Data to Support the Program
Funding for the WIDOC pilot program was provided by our state budget process. However, we needed to provide a detailed plan for implementing the program to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance before they would authorize the funding. To begin this process, we needed to determine what our program was going to be, how we were going to spend the money, who we were going to serve, and how we were going to define success.
The first step was to put together our oversight committee which would lay out the framework for the program including developing a workload, timeline, and most important, our program design. The program design needed to include:
- Who we were going to serve?
- How we were going to identify participants?
- What services were going to be provided?
- How will we measure program success?
Our next step was to develop a logic model. Logic models can assist with program evaluation by providing a picture of how your program is intended to work. It identifies your programs main components and how they should relate to one another. Logic models include process and outcome components.
We also needed to know what data we had available on the correctional population as it relates to opioid or heroin use and incarceration. Fortunately some of this information was already being tracked.
- Inmates released for opioid offenses: This data described inmates released from a Wisconsin prison who were incarcerated for any active offense directly related to opioids. One issue we had was that there are some offenses where the specific drug is not known. We chose to only use opioid-specific offense data.
- Inmates incarcerated for opioid offenses, by gender: This data uses offense-specific information to determine who is incarcerated in a Wisconsin prison, by gender, for an opioid-specific offense. The data was able to be sorted by time left to serve and thereby identified individuals who were releasing from prison in the next year who could be approached about the program.
- Inmates released to DCC Region 4 (pilot geographic area) for opioid offenses, by gender: For the pilot program, we were targeting individuals who were going to be residing in a specific geographic area of the state.
In addition to this internal data, we used statistics from trend data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Wisconsin Department of Justice heroin arrest data, and evidence-based research published in The Prison Journal, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, and the American Medical Association.
Finding and analyzing data to support your program could start with reaching out to your organization’s research and policy office, your local college or university statistics program, your state health or public health organization, or law enforcement contacts to start the process of figuring out what data is available to use to justify resources for your program.