Abstract: An Examination of Fidelity to Day Reporting Center Eligibility Criteria Among a Statewide Sample (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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287P An Examination of Fidelity to Day Reporting Center Eligibility Criteria Among a Statewide Sample

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Mariam Faheti, Doctoral Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Orion Mowbray, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Michael Robinson, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Ed Risler, PhD
Jeff Skinner, MSSW, ., University of Georgia, GA
Lindsey Disney, PhD, LCSW, Doctoral Candidate, University of Georgia
Background: Day reporting centers (DRCs) are highly structured programs intended to reduce recidivism and offender incarceration by providing monitoring for offenders within the community. DRCs are a popular sentencing option, as they are lower in cost compared to incarceration and allow participants to remain active where they live. Individuals are eligible for DRC participation if they experience high risk for future criminal behavior, high need for substance use counseling, high motivation for change, and have no history of violent crime. While eligibility criteria for participation in DRCs is well documented, it is unclear whether there is fidelity to these guidelines in practice. To address this gap, we examine a statewide sample of individuals on probation/parole and compare eligibility criteria between DRC and non-DRC participants.

Methods: The data in this study were from an administrative database provided by the State Department of Corrections including all persons on probation/parole from 2018-2019. From this total population, a propensity score matched sample was established, resulting in 637 DRC participants and 638 individuals who were under traditional probation or parole community supervision (non-DRC participants) (N=1,275). Criminal risk, mental health needs, and motivation to change were assessed through three scales based on Bonta and Andrews’ (2007) risk/needs/responsivity (RNR) model. Also measured were a dichotomous indicator of prior prison/incarceration, prior convictions, and a categorical measure of the top charge which an individual was convicted (substance use-related, non-violent offense, sex crime, or violent crime). Data also included sociodemographic measures. This study was reviewed and approved by the lead author’s university IRB.

Results: Bivariate analyses showed non-significant differences between DRC and non-DRC participants among the indicators used for propensity score matching (age, gender, race/ethnicity, prior conviction and prior prison sentences). The matched sample was mostly male (67.4%), White (65.4%), and with an average age of about 34 years. Comparing the two groups, DRC participants showed significantly higher criminal risk, t(1,273) = 4.69, p < .05, higher substance use needs, t(1,273) = 53.9, p < .01, and higher motivation to change t(1,273) = 26.89, p < .01. DRC participants (57%) were also more likely to have a substance use related conviction compared to non-DRC participants (55%), X2 (3, 1,273) = 15.7, p < .01.

Conclusions: Our results show that by a significant margin, DRC participants are selected according to established criteria. When individuals are admitted for DRC participation in this way, evidence suggests they have a higher likelihood of success while in the program to abstain from substance use and eventually complete community supervision sentencing. These results assist social workers in criminal justice settings by offering evidence that DRC selection processes are done with general fidelity to established criteria and re-affirms that selection for DRC participation should be made based on eligibility assessment in the areas of criminal risk, substance use and motivation. Additional research should examine the validity of eligibility measures used for DRC participation, as well as examine DRC outcomes based on initial eligibility screening measures associated with criminal risk, substance use, and motivation.