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Webinar Transcript: FY23 Research and Evaluation on Jails

On March 27, 2023, NIJ hosted a webinar discussing this solicitation FY23 Research and Evaluation of Jails. Following is the transcript of that webinar.


STACY LEE: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the National Institute of Justice Fiscal Year 2023 Research and Evaluation on Jails Solicitation Webinar. At this time, it's my pleasure to introduce Dr. Marie Garcia, Director of the Office of Criminal Justice Systems at the National Institute of Justice.

MARIE GARCIA: Great. Thank you so much, Stacy. And welcome everyone to today's webinar. As Stacy mentioned, my name is Dr. Marie Garcia, and I'm the Office Director for the Office of Criminal Justice Systems in the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Technology here at NIJ. And again, I want to thank you all for joining us today to hear more about our jails solicitation. Also joining me today is my colleague, Dr. Kyle Fox. He is the Science and Technology Research Advisor also in the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Technology. During today's webinar, I'll provide an overview of the solicitation and the focus areas, NIJ's application process, our review process as well, and give you some tips about how to submit a strong application, as well as provide links for support and resources during the application process. We'll also have some time allotted for Q&A. Before we get started, I'd like to introduce the NIJ Director, Dr. Nancy La Vigne. We are pleased to have her join us today to provide some opening remarks. Thank you for joining us, Nancy.

NANCY LA VIGNE: Thank you, Marie, and thank you, Kyle. And special thanks to Stacy Lee, our host for this webinar. Greetings, everybody. I am so excited about this solicitation because if I'm not mistaken, and Marie can correct me if she wants, this is the first time we've had a solicitation specifically on issues around jails, is that right? Or has it just been a really long time?

MARIE GARCIA: That's right.

NANCY LA VIGNE: Well, jails have been overlooked as a topic of research. And I think there's a lot of reasons for that. It's a lot easier to conduct research in prisons because they tend to be more likely to have research review boards, people are confined there longer, maybe the access to data is a lot easier. But we know that jails are distinctly different and they present both different challenges and different opportunities when it comes to preparing people for successful release, ensuring they maintain ties with their families and communities, looking at the issues around workforce in jails, which, I'm sure, have very unique challenges that are different from those that pertain to prisons. There's just a whole host of issues that we're really eager to learn more about. And so I won't steal Marie's thunder in terms of this specific content, and, of course,you can see it by reading it for yourself in the solicitation. But I did want to make note of this because it's really important to us.

And then I just wanted to share a little bit about my priorities as a director. I'm not quite at the year mark here at NIJ. I started in May of last year, and when I arrived, it was important to me to assert kind of what I think some priorities should be, and the research that NIJ sponsors. But also just the research in the justice space writ large because I think that there's a lot that's going well and a lot that we can improve upon. These priorities aren't topical in nature, they're more around how the research gets done. And the reason why I'm sharing this with you now is because they are embedded in this solicitation and in every other of our research solicitations. And we'll be giving priority to proposals that hit on as many of these priorities as possible. So, the first one is what we're calling inclusive research. And that means research that takes the time to engage with the people closest to the issue or problem that's being studied, and really engages them in the research partnership or practice, and that could be full-on community-based participatory research, but it may not be. It could be a highly quantitative study that still takes the time to bring findings back to, say, correctional officers in jail settings or people who had served time in a jail setting, or the family members of people who are incarcerated in a jail setting. That's including but not limited to. There's a lot of different ways in this topic and others. We can be more intentional about engaging with the people who are really the experts on the topic.

Another priority is to approach all our research through what we're calling a racial equity lens or an equity lens in general. We know that issues of racial disparities are baked into the system soup to nuts, and also affect the data we use. And we need to be more intentional about how we're thinking about those issues and the data, and even our methodology, that can also have biases baked into them and be more intentional about that. We also are promoting interdisciplinary research teams. We think it's really important that different expertise comes together in partnership, and we think that makes for stronger research. And for any evaluation proposals, we would like to see not just the impact evaluation, but also people spending time on the all-important implementation evaluation component. So whatever it is that you're evaluating, are you taking time to discern whether that thing was implemented with fidelity, and if not, how not? And we also welcome proposals that take an action research approach to evaluation where issues of fidelity are brought back to the program implementers in as close to real-time as possible so they can improve on that and increase the odds that, the program is yielding its intended consequences, and the research is documenting those outcomes.

And last but certainly not least is our evidence to action initiative. This acknowledges the importance of research and not just developing knowledge for the sake of developing knowledge, but rather to influence policy and practice and to improve safety and justice for all. And I think we've done a better job at NIJ in translating the research that we receive from our grantees and making it accessible, but we're also interested in making sure that it gets in the hands of the people who can make changes on the ground. And so we're inviting proposals that take time to be a little bit more intentional and dedicate more resources into their dissemination activity. So with that, I will turn it back to Marie. I'll be sitting in on the webinar and I'm interested to know your questions, and I hope you find this a valuable use of your time. Thank you very much.

MARIE GARCIA: Great. Thank you, Nancy. We appreciate you joining us today. I know how very busy you are, so your support is sincerely appreciated. Director La Vigne provided a lot of really great input. Again, this is the first solicitation that NIJ has posted in my tenure, specifically about jails. As Nancy mentioned, we have absolutely funded research in the jail space where the jurisdiction and the site of the study is in a jail, but this is incredibly focused on just this one particular area of corrections, so we welcome all of your ideas on how to improve our knowledge base of jails here in the US. Also importantly, we want to bolster the development of policy and practice to improve outcomes for not just the people that are serving time in a jail setting, but their community and the personnel that work in the facility.

There are three solicitation focus areas this year. The first is Improving Reentry Outcomes and Minimizing the Impact of Jail Incarceration on Justice-involved Individuals and Their Communities. Again, we understand that jails are a very unique situation for individuals. They can spend days there. They can spend weeks, even years in this custody setting. So, we want to understand what the practice of reentry looks like for them, given that it's very different from being in a prison setting. Given all of our research here at NIJ on reentry, we understand that the process of being in a custody setting affects the person, their families, and the community, so we're really interested in figuring that out a lot more. So improving reentry outcomes is our first focus area this year.

Secondly is Optimizing Workforce Development. We know, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, that jails and prisons are suffering from issues of staff retention, and just not having the staff necessary to run programs, and to just do basic requirements in this setting. So we're really interested in how we optimize the workforce development for the staff in these settings.

And third, we want to look at Enhancing Corrections Practices. Again, we understand that jails are constantly evolving and changing, the staff and the individuals in there, but we want to also improve practices, and what this means for the overall jail environment.

When you receive funding from NIJ, we do require several things. The first is, we have standard grant reporting requirements. So as a grantee, you're required to submit annual performance progress reports. Now, these reports provide NIJ with insight into how the projects are progressing, any issues that you might be having with your site, or with collecting data or enrolling enough individuals into your sample. This gives us an insight into what's going on with your project. Now, of course you can always contact NIJ about any issues that are coming up. The progress reports are submitted twice a year, and again, give us a high-level overview of what's going on with the project. And you're also required to submit Quarterly Financial Reports.

At the end of your project, you're also required to submit a Final Research Report. Now this is unlike a progress report, in that we want to understand exactly what happened with the overall project. What impact does it have for policy and practice, and where do we go from here? Our grantees are encouraged to publish other products with the Final Research Report. We would really love for this work to just be published and disseminated very, very widely. So, again, this is another requirement for any grants funded by NIJ.

Third, we require that all datasets and information collected on behalf of the project be archived with NACJD. This allows NIJ and the public to access all of the data that's collected from your projects so that the research can continue with the project. So it's really valuable for us to have the information available for anyone, especially graduate students who might be interested in this particular topic.

And fourth, we really encourage, as I mentioned, our grantees to publish. We want our work and your work to be made widely available, especially to the individuals and agencies that are impacted by your particular project, so jail administrators, jail personnel, and the individuals in the communities that has individuals in custody. We want to make sure that your work is provided and disseminated widely. It's a lot of deliverables, but it's important to get your really good work disseminated widely.

Now, with regard to the application submission process, there are three elements that are required when submitting a proposal to NIJ. The first is the Program Narrative. In the Program Narrative, we want you to explain the project. Justify the project, the methodology, the analysis, and the plans for getting the work done. Now, the Program Narrative is more detailed in the solicitation so you're encouraged to review that there. We also require a budget, both the details, the actual math behind the budget, as well as the narrative explaining the cost. And we also require CVs or resumes for key personnel. These are the critical elements. If one of these three is not submitted, unfortunately, the proposal cannot move forward in the process. Please be sure to include these three elements in your proposal. And we also have a number of additional required forms including the SF-424 and our lobbying form. So again, this is all included in the solicitation, but these included here are very important to include in your proposal.

We now have a two-step application submission protocol. The first is the submission to Grants.gov. Now, you'll notice that the deadlines are different. The Grants.gov deadline is May 4th, which is two weeks before the final deadline. So in Grants.gov, this is your submission of your intent to submit a proposal to NIJ. In order to be considered or if you want to be considered for funding and the review process, you must submit an application to Grants.gov on or before May 4th. And again, our second and final application submission protocol includes your submission of all application materials to JustGrants, and that deadline is May 18th. Please do keep that in mind if you're interested in submitting your proposal, that we do have two deadlines.

The application process here at NIJ is multilayered. As I mentioned, there are the critical elements, the Program Narrative, the Budget, the Budget Narrative, and the resume for key personnel. We will take an initial review of all applications that are submitted successfully to make sure that they include all of these basic minimum documentation. Should your application include all of these, you will move on to an external peer review process.

Now, depending on the solicitation, the composition of the panel might vary. However, given that we're focusing heavily on jails and practices, we like to include technical and practitioner reviewers in our solicitation review panels because we want to have both a rigorous, methodological expertise, and we want to know if the research that's being proposed will have an impact in the setting. Now, our external peer reviewers will score and provide written comments on all the applications that are under review. Now, once we have our external review process with our independent reviewers, NIJ will take a look at all of the recommendations, and all comments, and we review them ourselves. We have another independent lens from the reviewers, which speaks to having that multi-perspective review of the application. NIJ leadership, NIJ science staff, and other federal subject matter experts will take a look at our applications and provide feedback. Now, it's a very long process, but we want to make sure that we give each application a fair review and a multilayered, multifaceted review. And most importantly, all funding decisions are made at the discretion of the NIJ Director.

I wanted to provide a few critiques that have been raised during the peer review process over the years. Now, this is not specific to jails, however, these are just some helpful hints for you to keep in mind when drafting and submitting your proposal. Now, the Statement of the Problem is a core piece of the application process. This allows you as the writer to tell us why your idea is unique and important, and why we should support your research. However, some of the common critiques that we've heard from reviewers and others is that the writer fails to identify gaps in the current literature. Now, we certainly know that when submitting proposals, there's not a lot of space. But we do want you to make sure that you are very clear about why your proposal is fulfilling a certain gap or adds to the literature. That's really, really important, which is the second point as well, about the lit review being insufficient. Make sure that your review is succinct, but again, justifies and provides details about your proposed study. Another critique is that the scope of the proposed research is extremely limited or too ambitious. Now this is really a difficult balance. However, we have a certain amount of time and a certain amount of funding, so we want to make sure that your project is doable, essentially. So for the statement of the problem, make sure it identifies the gaps clearly, that it's sufficient, and that it just hits the mark on not being too ambitious or too limited.

Now with regard to the Research Design, it's very important to be clear about research questions, the design and methods, and the proposed analytic plan. You want to make sure that we understand exactly what you're proposing. It's really important to give us as many details as you think we need to know. Just be thoughtful about what questions we might be asking once we read your proposal. Make sure those questions are answered in your narrative. Now, again, similar to the Statement of the Problem, the project not being feasible is a really important issue. We don't necessarily want your ideas to be scaled down, but we need them to be feasible.

Now, with regard to Capabilities and Competencies, one critique that we hear time and again is that the proposed staff do not have familiarity with the methods that are proposed. And this is really important. Again, specifically with some of the more innovative statistical techniques, you want to make sure that you have staff on board whose CVs very clearly articulate that they have the skills necessary to support the work that's being proposed. And another critique that we hear time and again is that the project team does not include appropriate subject matter experts. Now, given that this is a jail solicitation, we certainly want to have the right experts on the team, in whatever role that you deem necessary. However, we want to make sure that you have experts, the appropriate ones, on this team.

Now, with regard to potential impact, the dissemination plan is often criticized for lacking specificity or not being innovative. This is really important, even though the dissemination plan does not have a lot of percentage points associated with it in the solicitation, this is critical because as the director mentioned, we want to make sure that the work that we support is getting to the practitioners and to the men and women who work in this space every day, the men and women who are impacted. We  want your proposals to have an innovative dissemination plan, and importantly, that you plan to reach non-academic audiences. Again, given that this is a specific solicitation on jails, the plan should be appropriate for the audience that this work could potentially impact. Please do keep these tips in mind as you draft your narrative.

Just some more helpful hints for those of you who are submitting a proposal this year, please be sure that your proposal is well-written. We might even encourage a copyedit of the narrative. This is really important. This is something that, again, is commented on during the review process, so just be sure that it's well-written, that it's innovative. Again, we are looking at, with this solicitation, three really important areas, and this is researcher-initiated. Give us your best and brightest ideas. We want to make sure that your research is timely. This is important because of the recent pandemic and the shifts in corrections. We want to make sure that the work that we fund is going to really help the current state of operations in jails across the U.S. Now importantly, make sure that your project is rigorous and well-designed. Again, this goes back to having a very clear research design and analytic plan. And make sure that it's feasible. We have, as I mentioned before, a finite amount of time that we can provide to grantees to complete their work. Please keep that in mind when building out your project and your timeline because this is really important.

And as the director mentioned, and as I just said here, we want to make sure that the research has impact. The individuals that we support at NIJ are the men and women in the field of criminal justice and for this particular solicitation, the individuals who are in custody, their families, their communities, as well as the men and women who work in these facilities. We want to make sure that what we support supports them. Also importantly, when submitting your narrative, we require several other additional documentations. One thing that's really important is your research and evaluation independence and integrity statement. This should not be overlooked. We want to make sure when you're creating the proposal that there are no conflicts, that you can have an independent lens when evaluating your particular project, whatever that might be. We want to make sure that we have those statements very detailed and included in your application. Very importantly, having letters of support from your criminal justice partners. Again, we understand that it's difficult sometimes to get these partnerships in place. However, having a letter of support really provides us with the understanding that you have a partnership with a jurisdiction or jail, or multiple jails to conduct this work. We want to make sure that these commitments are in place before funding is made available. So, please do take some time to gather your letters of support or intent before submitting your final narrative to NIJ.

Now, what will not be funded? Unresponsive applications. Again, this is a researcher-initiated solicitation and our categories are quite broad. So, please make sure that when developing your ideas that it fits into one or two of these areas. Just be clear about that when writing your proposal and letting us know what your topic area is. We will not fund research that we've already funded. Now, NIJ has a great website, nij.gov, and you can look at all of the research that we have funded in corrections. Again, this is the first jail solicitation, but we have funded research in jails. Please take a look at our website and the research that we have funded, what has closed, as well as the research that's currently ongoing. This will provide insight into what we have funded and what we will not fund moving forward.

We do not provide funding to purchase equipment, materials or supplies and we do not support funding for training or direct services. Please keep that in mind when developing your proposal, as well as your budget. Just a couple of FAQs about this solicitation. This year, we have $3,000,000 available for this solicitation. And we intend to make up to six awards. However, that does not mean you cannot request more funding. With regard to requesting funding, just make sure that the funding request matches the scope of the work, as well as your needs. Again, we have three focus areas this year. The individuals who are in jail custody who are returning, who will eventually release return to their communities, the individuals who work in the custody, and we're focusing as well on corrections practices.

Now, the timing of an award. Awards decisions will be made later this year. And awards will be announced on or around October 1st. And for those individuals or organizations who are not provided funding this year, they will receive notification shortly after the awards are announced publicly. Now, we do allow co-investigators and subcontractors and subrecipients to be included as part of the award. However, we cannot fund foreign entities as part of our funding stream. Please do keep that in mind when building your team for this particular solicitation.

And because we are research agency, IRB, Human Subject Protection is incredibly important to our work, so should you be funded, there are a number of requirements with regard to privacy, confidentiality, and institutional review boards. We will have a lot of engagement with you over time to get those settled before your work can begin. And, of course, importantly, we are always interested in funding new researchers who are young and have new ideas, and are interested in the work that we do here at NIJ. New investigators who have never received funding from NIJ are always encouraged to apply.

Here are some links, emails, and some information about our support. (Slide 15) This is also included in the solicitation. If you have any issues with the two-step proposal process, we have our Grants.gov support team, as well as our JustGrants support team that can help you with any tech or other issues that you might have when submitting your application. Again, this is in the solicitation if you're not able to write it all down here.

And here are some recommended resources for you. (Slide 16) Our Office of Justice Programs Funding Resource Center provides all you need to know about how we make awards here at NIJ and OJP. As a grantee, you must follow all the rules and regulations of the DOJ Grants Financial Guide. This is really critical to know especially when looking for information about what's an allowable expense and what's not. This financial guide will be really helpful for you. NIJ has its own Funding FAQ page. You can look for answers to many questions on the website and if you have any questions specific to this solicitation, you can ask them today or send them to the [email protected] email that's included in the solicitation.

Also, as I mentioned, we have funded research in this space before. Please take a look at our Corrections Portfolios here, or again, you can look at our funding page to see what we have funded in the past. And one thing I will also, just as a tip that I did not mention earlier, is on behalf of Grants Funding page, we also have examples of sample proposals that have been successful in the past. If you want to review an application that has been funded by NIJ, there are a few available to you.

That concludes my remarks for this afternoon. So, we are happy to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you again for your time and we look forward to hearing your questions.

KYLE FOX: Hi, Marie. "For this grant, must interventions or programs be strictly jail-based, i.e. services delivered in jails to people during periods of incarceration or can post-release community-based reentry interventions and programming focused on improving reentry outcomes be considered?"

MARIE GARCIA: Ideally, again, because we are focusing on the jail space, we would like to see a connection between the jail environment and the post-release experience. However, that's not to say that you could not submit a proposal that's looking at an intervention that's only in the community, but again, please be sure to tie it back to the jail setting. As long as the intervention is appropriate for this population and the settings, we will absolutely consider an intervention either in the jail or in the community. Thank you for your question.

KYLE FOX: Another question. "Can you share the timeline on which data can be archived and publicly available? For example, can we build in a year or two post-grant completion to publish our papers based on the project before the data are publicly available?"

MARIE GARCIA: That's a great question. Data and all information that's collected on behalf of the project is typically due 90 days after the award has closed which gives you an extra three months to prepare and archive all of the data. However, I do understand that you'd want to be the first to publish on the data. But one thing I can tell you is that we fund a lot of research and everyone is required to submit their data so it takes time to actually archive and make the data available. Now, I don't want to say it takes six months or a year, but it does take some time. However, should you be funded and you do want to take some time to publish, NIJ can certainly work with you and make sure that you have some time before the archiving processed is complete. However, we can't necessarily hold onto the data for you. But we will certainly work with you, because as I mentioned, we want to get your research out there. We wanted to get it to jail personnel and administrators.

KYLE FOX: Another question, "Is there a place for pure or theoretical research in this solicitation?"

MARIE GARCIA: I'm not going to say no. But as I mentioned throughout the discussion, and as with Director La Vigne’s opening comments, we are really focused on practice and evidence to action. We want to make sure that our work has an impact on this setting. Theory is incredibly important and we understand that. As long as I your theory has implications for policy and practice, we would absolutely consider your proposal responsive so you're encouraged to submit it.

KYLE FOX: One more question. "If we want to be part of a research team, for example, as a labor and employment attorney, is there a way to coordinate joining a proposal?"

MARIE GARCIA: Yes, absolutely. You are encouraged to find partners, whomever they might be, either academic or other practitioners. A great way to move forward with any solicitation or any proposal is to have a diverse team. If you have partners that would like to submit, you are encouraged to join their team.

NANCY LA VIGNE: Marie, there's also a few questions in the chat.

NANCY LA VIGNE: ..."Are juvenile justice jail interventions being considered?" My understanding is no, that that would fall under a different solicitation, correct?

MARIE GARCIA: That's correct. We do have solicitations this year that are specific to the juvenile population so you're encouraged to go to our website and review those solicitations. This [solicitation] is focused specifically on adults. But thank you for that question because that helps clarify for others who may have had a similar question.

NANCY LA VIGNE: Yeah, I think there were two related to that. And then a question about whether an application would be eligible if it focused on improving data that jails used so that jail administrators can make better policy decisions." My sense on that is that that is fully aligned with the solicitation, is that right?

MARIE GARCIA: Absolutely. As we know working in the justice system, if you don't have good data, it's very hard to make good policy and to have good practice and good research so absolutely, that would be responsive to the solicitation.

NANCY LA VIGNE: We are tag teaming here. I'm doing chat and Kyle's doing the Q&A. We've got two ways that people can put in questions. The last one I see in the chat is, "If some data for this project will also be made available to another government agency, does it still need to be archived separately through NIJ?" And the answer to that is a definitive yes.

MARIE GARCIA: Yes, any data that are used for the purposes of the project will be archived. Now it depends if you use their data and there’s an agreement in place that does not allow archiving, ,  we are not going violate the conditions of those agreements. However, if the data are publicly available, we will not archive it but we will link to it, so that individuals who are interested can see all of the data that you used.

KYLE FOX: Marie, a couple more questions. "Are we allowed to submit a single proposal that addresses multiple topics listed in the solicitation?"

MARIE GARCIA: You can, absolutely. Again, just be clear which topics you're addressing as these are not separate competitions. All of the topics are just going into one big bucket, so absolutely, if your idea is going to be responsive to one or more, that's great.

KYLE FOX: Question. "If an intervention proposal includes funding to hire staff towards delivery, does that count as a prohibited direct service?

MARIE GARCIA: Not necessarily. It could vary.

NANCY LA VIGNE: I don't think we allow direct service.

MARIE GARCIA: In some instances, we do allow support to, for example, collect data and other types of necessary programmatic matters but direct services would be outside scope. (See Pg. 11: https://nij.ojp.gov/media/29961/download)

KYLE FOX: One more question. "Will interventions where the treatment is applied to families and children of people in jails be considered? A primary outcome would still be to improve reentry outcomes."

MARIE GARCIA: Absolutely. As I mentioned, we understand that when people are in custody, they're not there alone. So if the intervention that you're looking to evaluate is specifically for the family to improve jail outcomes, we absolutely would be interested.

NANCY LA VIGNE: There's some more questions in the chat. So here we go, toggling back and forth. One is an easy one. No, the proposals don't have to be five years long. That five years is the maximum period of performance that you should be proposing. I would say our average proposals probably run around three or two and a half to three years. That sound right, Marie?

MARIE GARCIA: COVID really threw us off, but typically I would say that...

NANCY LA VIGNE: Yeah. Well, that was after the no cost extensions.


NANCY LA VIGNE: There's a question about educational level for the applicants. —It is “Are viable applicants only PhDs or graduate students or can they be other individuals?" We have no hard and fast rules on that that I'm aware of, but you need to demonstrate that the people who are not on the proposal have the necessary expertise to conduct the research. Did I get that right, Marie?

MARIE GARCIA: Absolutely. If you are a graduate student, we do have funding available for our graduate student population. We need to make sure that the Capabilities and Competencies support the work so a PhD isn't required as long as you have the requisite expertise to do the work.

NANCY LA VIGNE: Then I think this is the last one that came through the chat function. This is an interesting and good question because we make reference to innovation. And so the question is, "Do you have examples of how reviewers evaluate innovation?” What are we looking for in an application to qualify as innovative? I'm not quite sure how to answer that. I'm going to just punt to Marie, let her answer that hard question.

MARIE GARCIA: In the solicitation, we do outline the specific elements that you might consider including in your narrative as well as your Capabilities and Competencies, your project design and that is in that design section where you want to explicate how your project is innovative, how it's going to add to the literature and add to the field of criminal justice. So that is one of the core areas and I'm going to look at the solicitation myself.

NANCY LA VIGNE: I think that innovation is a very loose term. And so I understand the point. I think that we're using the term innovation to mean that you're proposing something that hasn't been done before and that gets back to Marie's earlier point about making sure that you do enough of a lit review that you can demonstrate that what you're proposing will be additive, right, rather than duplicative of past studies.

KYLE FOX: Marie, another question. "Are letters of support required if the work only involves retrospective analysis of already existing data or does this apply more for prospective analyses that require cooperation with jail authorities?"

MARIE GARCIA: Great question. If data are publicly available, you don't need a letter of support because it's already available, so it would be more for the latter, which is developing new relationships and that prospective data collection. However, we want to encourage that the work be disseminated widely so if you have a local jail that might be interested in your findings, perhaps engage with them and let them know what you're up to in case you want to disseminate and work with them later but no, you don't need support letters for data that are already available.

KYLE FOX: Another question that came up in chat. "Would paying jail management system vendors for implementations of a screening tool be an allowable expense if the research is related to standardized screener use?

MARIE GARCIA: This is tricky because we're essentially paying the vendor and evaluating the vendor's tool which could be a potential conflict of interest to consider. When developing a budget for a project like this, you want to consider that perspective. And, again, as we talked about before with that research and evaluation independence and integrity statement, there needs to be an independence there. So, if they're potentially consulting on a project when their tool is being used, that's different from them being paid directly by the grant. Just consider that when developing your idea and if you're going to include a vendor in the budget, be careful and aware of what the limitations and the conflicts might be.

NANCY LA VIGNE: I might add to that, Marie, because another facet of this question is around what are allowable expenditures and I'm just looking at this one and thinking well, if they're already using the screening tool then you can't use the grant to supplant the cost of administration. What I discern from this question is this would be a proposal to institute a new tool and the evaluation would be looking at the implementation and impact which I think makes it an okay expense, but I'll defer to you.

MARIE GARCIA: Yeah. In that case, it would be. —I’m pleased to say that you’re right, Nancy, about their particular idea, all of our applications that are funded by NIJ will go through a very extensive budget review. If any issues do come up, we will certainly let you know ahead of time before the project gets on the ground. So, again, if our financial office deems it not to be an allowable expense, we will work with you to make necessary changes, but Nancy's correct. If it's the example that she provided, it would be allowable. But, again, I would encourage everyone who is going to submit an application, be very conscious of our financial rules. There's a lot of them.

KYLE FOX: A question came up in chat. "Texas utilizes state jail facilities where individuals can be held up to two years for crimes more severe than those warranting a traditional jail sentence. Are evaluations at these facilities eligible for this proposal?"

MARIE GARCIA: They're jails for all intents and purposes. So yes, they would be considered responsive.

NANCY LA VIGNE: Well, they're called jails but they're in the TDCJ system, so it is a very interesting question. They are also located in communities more similar to jails than our prisons. But I think that we would err on including that.

MARIE GARCIA: Aside from Texas, we do have integrated systems of corrections here in the US as well, where you have that jail and prison system. So, as long as you can explicate they are a jail for the purposes of this project and how they're housing their individuals, then absolutely, we would encourage you to submit that proposal.

KYLE FOX: "Does the sample proposal have budget information? The local jail is in an extremely rural community and such research would not be done for this target group before."

MARIE GARCIA: I have a sample open right now and, no, it does not. They only include the narrative. We do not have that particular information for the proposal. However, you can see there are examples of budget worksheets on the website and again, I believe there might be some issues around actually providing that specific application information, however, there are budget materials that you can review that might be helpful to you on the website.

KYLE FOX: The next question is "Would a pre-arrest diversion program with an in-reach component be of interest given that the population is jail bound?

MARIE GARCIA: That's a great one. It says very clearly that jails, that we're looking for people that are in custody. But these individuals are jail-bound. So I would say...

NANCY LA VIGNE: They could try to make the case.

MARIE GARCIA: Yes, they could make a justification for why it should be considered and absolutely, if it is responsive and can fit into, again, the higher-level areas, practices, personnel, and reentry. Make the case. We'd be happy to see it.

KYLE FOX: “The rate of jails--American Indians in jail is disproportionate compared to non-Indians. Is there any research available in the archives?"

MARIE GARCIA: Not that has been funded by NIJ but NACJD has a wealth of information and there are archives that could speak to this particular issue. I would encourage you to look at their website to see if they might have any specific research on this topic. Just so we're on the same page, NACJD is the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. They have a host of information on many different areas that impact the justice system, so that would be a great place to start.

NANCY LA VIGNE: I put a link in the chat. https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/web/pages/NACJD/index.html

KYLE FOX: "Is measuring long run outcomes, for example, careers for people who served in jails a covered topic?"

MARIE GARCIA: We're talking about, like, the systems related to long-term post-release outcome? I would, again, encourage you to look at what we included in terms of what we're looking for. We don't define the post-release experience. We are open to what happens when an individual is released from custody, from the jail setting. So, again, as long as the lit review and the justification for why it's in there, I would encourage you to apply. We have just a few more minutes before we wrap up. But, again, if you have questions after today, you can always email [email protected] that's on the solicitation. And they are incredibly responsive and will get back to you as soon as they can. Again, just a reminder, we have two deadlines. So please do keep those in mind when preparing your application.

NANCY LA VIGNE: One last question came in and I'm going to address it, which is "Do we anticipate the solicitation that will be offered next year as well?" Unlikely. Not because we don't care but because we have limited resources, so we usually do every other year for some of these. I don't want to call it a niche topic because it's essential topic. We could surprise you, but I wouldn't count on it. So if you have a good idea, now is your opportunity.

MARIE GARCIA: Yes. Thank you for that, Nancy. Okay. Thank you all for coming. And if you have any questions after today, please do be in touch with the OJP Response Center. Thank you very much for attending. We're happy to have you here. We're very thankful to the director for making this a priority for NIJ this year and we look forward to seeing all of your great proposals. Thank you again and have a wonderful afternoon.

STACY LEE: This will end today's presentation. Thank you.

Date Published: April 20, 2023