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Section 3: Delivering In-Jail and Community Interventions through Evidence-Based Curriculum

This section explains the process of developing and delivering interventions through an evidence-based curriculum to selected people in the jail and upon release to the community. Interventions can include short courses, training sessions, formal services, and treatment programs. Whenever possible, the program and services offered in the jail should mirror or work in conjunction with community programs, ideally by the same provider in and out of the jail.

Course selection must consider

  • The individual's length of stay
  • The level and type of criminogenic risk and need that will be targeted and serviced
  •  Group space and staff who can deliver the curriculum
  • Training needs of staff to deliver the curriculum
  • Alignment with existing programs and services both in jail and the community.

Work done while in jail to begin treatment, develop relationships with service providers, and connect individuals to service appointments in the community will have less impact after release if there is no follow-up in the community. Community-based organizations and support networks must provide continuity of care—or in many cases, initiate care—through services, training, treatment, and case management when an individual is released.

There are five basic steps to developing and delivering interventions.

Step 1: Determine which individuals should receive which interventions.

The eligibility for participation in any in-jail and community-based intervention is based on a thorough risk/needs assessment, a completed transition plan, and the individual's length of jail stay. Secondary considerations include jail and community capacity, staff availability, staff training, financial resources, and receptivity of the incarcerated population.

Guided by evidence-based practices, low-risk individuals with few needs do not receive comprehensive interventions but still have access to less intensive referrals and services in the jail and the community.

High-risk individuals with many needs should receive the most comprehensive interventions available at the jail and upon release.

Click here for a table that outlines the type of in-jail and community interventions available to a person based on his or her risk and needs score and length of stay in the facility or program. As you see, the longer the length of stay, the more interventions are available in the jail setting.

Step 2: Select interventions.

After you identify your population needs, it's time to define the content and curriculum of evidence-based short courses, training sessions, formal services, and treatment programs designed to reduce recidivism.

Research shows that certain interventions have the greatest impact on recidivism rates for correctional populations. The following are five major areas of treatment:

  • Cognitive behavioral/life skills groups
  • Substance abuse groups/ CBT substance abuse treatment
  • Job readiness and employment
  • Educational programs
  • Housing and community reintegration planning

We recommend that you enlist programming experts, such as those listed below, to suggest evidenced-based interventions for your population:

  • Psychologists
  • Correctional researchers
  • Staff from institutes and government agencies
  • Consultants
  • Other jail facilities

These experts understand the importance of evidence-based interventions and will be helpful in discussing with you which interventions are backed by research proving their effectiveness. They should also be able to help you to understand the research and build capacity within your own organization to evaluate programs and services and ensure that you utilize only those programs or services that are proven to be effective. You can often locate them by contacting

Remember, regardless of whom you work with, make sure to have them show you why theirs is an evidenced-based intervention. Empirically based studies have provided evidence of the statistically significant effectiveness of the treatment or program.

Step 3: Pilot the new intervention.

Pilot testing your program on a small group before extending the intervention to all individuals who meet the criteria is necessary for the following reasons:

  • It allows you to identify which factors helped or hindered implementation of the intervention before you spend a large amount of time and money on the intervention.
  • It allows you to determine whether staff are adequately trained, and if not, gives you time to help them improve the delivery of the intervention.

Step 4: Implement the intervention.

High-quality implementation of the intervention is the next step. An evidenced-based curriculum alone does not guarantee successful implementation. Your organization has to be “ready” and have the capacity to meet the challenges of implementing a new program. The following factors influence high-quality implementation:1

  • Staff selection
  • Pre-service and in-service training
  • Ongoing consultation and coaching
  • Staff evaluation
  • Facilitative administration
  • System interventions

Step 5: Extend the new intervention to all individuals who meet the criteria.

Moving to a full-scale implementation of the intervention occurs once the pilot program has been determined to be successful. Of course, once you have fully implemented the program, your work to develop effective transitional services is not complete. Developing and delivering evidence-based interventions is an ongoing, iterative process. In Module 9: Self-Evaluation and Sustainability, you will learn methods for continually evaluating your progress and ensuring that you are delivering the most effective and valid interventions.

For more information and examples from the field

1. Finn, Peter. 1997. The Orange County, Florida, Educational and Vocational Programs, National Institute of Justice Program Focus. A recommended resource on how programs can be implemented in your jail.

2. Kent County, MI Sheriff's Office. Reentry Program Schedule of Classes.

3. La Crosse County, WI. Thinking for a Change Training. Training flyer for system stakeholders.

4. Orange County, CA Probation Department. Orange County Transitional Reentry Center Orientation Handbook.

5. Sullivan County, NH Department of Corrections. 2011. Community Corrections Program Schedule of Programs and Services.

6.Urban Institute. A table of different cognitive-behavioral, substance abuse, fatherhood, and staff curricula, including cost and number of classes required.

7. Urban Institute. A table of educational programming available through satellite TV and other distance learning techniques.

8. Urban Institute. 2011. TJC Intervention Inventory (LSI-R Version).

9. Fresno County, CA. Fresno County TJC Unit Sergeant and Correctional Officer Job Descriptions.

1 C. A. Denton, S. Vaughn, and J. M. Fletcher, “Bringing Research-Based Practice in Reading Intervention to Scale,” Learning Disabilities Research & Practice 18 (2003): 201–211.

Let's Review

Let's revisit what we have learned so far in the Tailored Transition Interventions module. Please answer the following questions.

1. The first step toward developing an intervention in your jail is
2. An evidence-based intervention is a treatment or program that has demonstrated statistically significant effectiveness in empirical studies.
3. An important factor influencing the high-quality implementation of interventions is


In this section, you learned the five basic but necessary steps to develop and deliver evidence-based interventions. You learned that it is important to receive advice from programming experts, as well as to pilot-test intended interventions.