One issue that we struggled with was data collection – how to collect, what to collect, when to collect, and what reports do we want to be able to generate from the data that is collected. We didn’t want the data collection piece to be overwhelming for our probation and parole agents and so we decided to centralize the data collection into a SharePoint site. Each month the agent submits a program participant data sheet to a staff member who enters the information into SharePoint and follows up on any missing data.
For offenders in the community, the following information is tracked:
- DOC number – basic identifier for the agency
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Risk assessment score – generated from our risk/needs actuarial software
- Volunteered for program
- If the individual decided not to participate in the program, capture why
- Complete/Pass medical screening
- Probation and Parole Agent information
- Community supervision start date
- County of supervision
- Pilot program start date
- Monthly injection dates
- Treatment dates
- Pilot program end date
- Pilot program end date reason
For inmates who will be releasing from prison and participating in the program, the following additional information is tracked:
- Treatment program completed
- Earned Release Program start date
- Earned Release Program end date
- Facility releasing from
- Date of injection while in institution
All of this information is entered and tracked in a SharePoint site and charts/graphs can be generated. See the links for examples of the data collection spreadsheet and graphics that we create and distribute on a monthly basis to department leadership, stakeholders, and division staff involved in the program.
Data and Analysis Best Practices:
- Utilize or create a data tracking platform with a detailed data dictionary to explain each tracked data element.
- Track all offenders who were eligible to participate in the program. Offenders who qualified for the program but did not enroll or complete can be used as a control group.
- Mandate which data elements providers are required to supply and how often. This is true for both internal staff report and to include in contracts with vendors. Contracts should use consistent language between all providers.
- Record and verify every injection date and every treatment date.
- Define a program completion. Completions may be based on the number of injections or the opinion of a credentialed treatment provider, but should be consistent throughout the program.
- Develop a list of clear end reasons that agents can select from a dropdown menu when an offender choses to stop program participation.
- Select and track endpoints to be analyzed for program effectiveness. For example, endpoints may include relapses, violations, positive urinalysis results, arrests, reincarceration, etc.
- Pick a reasonable follow-up period for each endpoint as some may be short-term and others long-term.
- Establish data collection policies and practices early
- Lean on data experts to establish methodology
- Assign data collection and tracking to one individual to ensure accuracy and completeness
- Define program entrance criteria in conjunction with defining the target population