This study used Palmer's Global Approach (GA) to compare two moderately successful intensive supervision programs, so as to determine what programmatic and nonprogrammatic features the programs had in common and likely contributed to program success.
The Palmer GA is a systematic, analytical approach that considers the effects of various programmatic and nonprogrammatic factors to be used when examining the effectiveness of correctional innovations. The Palmer GA suggests that to identify programmatic and nonprogrammatic characteristics associated with success, researchers must identify the main target of study (i.e., program type or category of offender); include only programs in which experimental groups outperformed their control group counterparts by 25 percent on recidivism and other success measures; compile as much information as possible about the operations, staff, offenders, and program setting; and compare the programmatic and nonprogrammatic features across the programs. Once completed, the common features or combinations of features identified can be used as a basis for creating new programs or refining existing ones. The Palmer GA approach was applied in a comparison of California's Contra Costa and Ventura County intensive supervision programs (ISPs). Common characteristics of the programs were found to be the targeting of high-risk offenders; at least 9 months in length; worked with small caseloads; offered life skills, education, and employment training; and used assessment scales. Also, both programs used team approaches in their supervision activities, were balanced in their supervision orientation, and had clear missions and goals. Both used cognitive-behavioral and multimodal approaches to treatment, used behavioral contracts, had frequent contact with their clients, and appeared to have high program integrity. The evidence suggests that ISPs can be effective, but they must be carefully designed and meticulously implemented. 30 references