Frequently Asked Questions

Prison Research Innovation Manager requirement

Q: If a state already has a position similar in function to the Prison Research Innovation Manager, can that person be proposed for both Phase 1 and Phase 2, assuming the duties for that position can be expanded as needed to meet project requirements?

A: Yes, but in your application please explain how the person’s current role, experience, and responsibilities align with those of the Prison Research Innovation Manager, including what current responsibilities may need to be reallocated to other staff in order to devote the time and attention required to successfully execute the project.

Q: Could someone not located on site assume the role?

A: No. The Prison Research Innovation Manager is a full-time position that should be based within the selected pilot prison facility so that the manager can be fully immersed in – and supportive of – the project implementation on site.

Q: What are the ideal background and qualifications for the position?

A: The ideal candidate will have operational knowledge of the correctional environment, experience in successfully implementing changes in prison policies and practices, and a track record of working collaboratively with both correctional officers/staff and incarcerated populations. The manager should have an understanding of and appreciation for the research process and be committed to protecting the confidentiality of research participants and data collected for this effort. 

Research partner

Q: Have the states/prisons/research partners been selected already?

A: No, we have released a Request for Proposals which are due by October 1, 2019 at which point we will conduct a thorough review of applicants, and select the sites on or before November 30, 2019. 

 Q: May a research organization partner with more than one state?

A: We are hoping to enhance local capacity for data collection and evaluation, so preference will be given to applicants who partner with a local research organization.

Q: May a state-based research project partner work with a national researcher or research organization in order to strengthen their expertise and experience?

A: Our preference is that applicants engage with a local research partner in order to build capacity and cultivate an understanding of context within the facility and the state. If you believe engaging non-local researchers to work with the local research partner would be optimal, that is acceptable, but we ask that you explain why and how you will do so in your application.

Executive Committee requirement

Q: If a state already has a group like the Executive Committee required by the RFP, can that existing group expand its purpose and membership rather than having to form a completely new group for this effort?

A: Yes, if you have an executive group with similar membership that is able and willing to take on the functions required for the project you may use that group to fulfill the Executive Committee requirement. In your application, please describe the existing group and its membership, its capacity, and why you believe it would be a good fit for this project. 

Defining innovation

Q: What is envisioned in terms of “prison innovation”?

A: The table at the end of the RFP provides examples of innovations, both large and small. These innovations will vary from site to site based on baseline data analysis and survey results, and may pertain to: improving the prison culture and climate; addressing identified needs of correctional populations; making improvements to prison operations; altering the physical environment to be more conducive to safety and rehabilitation; and passing or promulgating state-wide policies that enhance transparency, accountability, and evidence-based practices.  

Data collection

Q: What will be included in the prison climate survey?

A: The climate survey will be developed collaboratively with individuals who are living and working in the selected prison. Survey questions for correctional staff will likely explore staff support for rehabilitation; perceptions of prison leadership, respect and communication; degree of coworker support; readiness for change; and optimism about the facility and organization’s ability to make improvements. Survey questions for incarcerated respondents will likely explore perceptions of safety; access to basic needs and programming; and views of transparency and equity in correctional policies and their application.

Miscellaneous

Q: Does the application allow for descriptive attachments?

A: In order to streamline our review process and ensure a level playing field among applicants, we will not be inviting any supplemental materials or attachments.

Q: What is the background of the Urban Institute project team? Does your team include people who have worked in prisons?

A: The Urban project team consists of researchers who have extensive experience conducting research in correctional facilities, including projects that measure and promote improvements in prison culture and climate and those that document and evaluate efforts to improve outcomes for incarcerated populations. While no members of our team have been employed in correctional institutions, the Advisory Board of our Prison Research and Innovation Initiative includes people with that experience. We also envision that our partnership with sites and the Prison Research Innovation Manager in particular will be critically important in ensuring this perspective is incorporated throughout the project.

 

Have additional questions? Please reach out to TransformPrison@urban.org and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.