Prison Research and Innovation Initiative and Network

An Evidence-Based Approach to Prison Reform

We are pursuing a new evidence-based approach to prison reform. This effort aims to advance a national movement of thought leaders committed to redefining the corrections profession and supporting ongoing prison reform efforts.

Key components of the Initiative include the following:

  • The Prison Research and Innovation Network: A consortium of five states, each working to establish a model of transparency, accountability, and innovation in one prison with the support of a research partner to enhance research and data capacity.
  • Cross-site data collection and assessment: We will launch a climate survey of the people confined and working in each facility, designed in partnership with both, to measure the experience of living and working in prison.
  • Policy landscape analysis: Review existing and potential state legislative and administrative measures to identify reforms that promote improved prison environments and enhance transparency.
  • Strategic outreach and engagement: We will enlist the input and expertise of state and national stakeholders, including people who have experienced incarceration, and by promoting awareness of the challenges of current prison operations and the importance of new, more robust accountability measures. We established a national advisory board to inform our efforts and convened a roundtable to establish a research agenda on prisons.

Key components of the Network include the following:

The Network serves as a community of practice for states interested in leveraging research, data, and evidence to inspire improvements in prison environments.

Goals of the Network include the following:

  • develop a better understanding of prison environments and their relationship to the safety and well-being of those who live and work there
  • enhance state prisons’ capacities for collecting data on prison environments, with the goal of promoting transparency and accountability
  • design, implement, and evaluate data-driven, evidence-based operational and programmatic innovations to improve basic conditions, including those that support rehabilitation and self-betterment for incarcerated people

The states participating in Phase 1 of the Network:

  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Vermont

Questions?

Please view our informational Webinar HERE. Email us at TransformPrison@urban.org with any questions.