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Iowa Statistical Analysis Center's Research on Indigent Defense and the Implementation of the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2017, $152,146)

The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.

The Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (CJJP) will use SJS funds for a core capacity project (Expanding the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP)) and a special emphasis project (State Public Defender (SPD) Assessment for Indigent Defenses).

CJJP will continue to expand the use of the SPEP, a diagnostic tool developed to assess the effectiveness of service delivery for system involved youth in an effort to reduce recidivism. The project will build on prior SJS funded projects with continuing expansion and implementation of the SPEP diagnostic tool into additional judicial districts in Iowa; reassess juvenile justice services within existing sites to determine advancements made by previously assessed programs; produce data analyses through program improvement plans to inform service providers and effectively improve service delivery to become more evidence-based; continue to work with system officials, including the courts, to establish a set of policy for standardization of practice and use of the SPEP tool; streamline the process for allocation of funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and other federal agencies to direct resources toward assessed services, demonstrating evidence-based practice resulting in reduced recidivism; and continued collaboration through the process on a national level with other states. The goal of the project is to continue with the expansion of the Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative through continued delivery and execution of the SPEP. Deliverables for the project include a final report describing the completion of expansion efforts into additional districts which will be provided to BJS and published on CJJP’s website.

CJJP will work with the SPD to continue to assess current data systems and develop key indicators to study indigent defense outcomes since it is a challenge to use the information regarding effective, high quality representation and convert that to measurable performance indicators. The SPD plans to implement a process by which indigent offenders are able to select their attorney as opposed to random appointment of counsel. CJJP will serve as evaluator of this project. An overall assessment prior to beginning the study is needed to determine the enhancements needed to the data, and examine and define key indicators that are most likely to produce the outcomes. This is a 3-phase study with Phase I being funded by 2016 SJS funds which focused on data availability and defining key indicators essential to determining whether case outcomes improve for indigent offenders who are afforded client choice. Phase II calls for a reassessment of client satisfaction and determination of outcomes that are based on the disposition cases represented by contracted attorneys only. The goals of the project are to establish baseline SPD data prior to implementation of the client choice process; identify specific outcomes through analysis of key indicators; determine data sources and availability and perform a gap analysis; establish a tracking mechanism for key indicator information; and provide additional national research into key indicators that correlate to improved outcomes. Deliverables for the project include producing an analysis and report for each stage and a final report with findings and results that will be submitted to BJS. (CA/NCF)

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component as defined in applicable law.

Date Created: September 19, 2017