Iowa Department of Corrections

The Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC) has long used data and evaluation to reduce recidivism. In an effort to improve their results and the information they were gathering, in 2011, the Iowa DOC partnered with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. Together, they created a state-specific cost-benefit analysis model that allows policy makers and program administrators to compare different programs based on effectiveness, cost and expected benefits.

“Results First gave us the missing piece. We followed evidence-based principles, and we evaluated fidelity to program models. But now we can put dollars and cents to the costs and benefits. The governor and legislature have maintained their commitment to us, even in a time of cutbacks, because they have data showing we are producing results.” – John Baldwin, Director, Iowa Department of Corrections

Through this focus on data and evaluation, the Iowa Department of Corrections was able to make better policy and budget decisions. Specifically, they have been able to compare and contrast long-term benefits across programs, and shift funding to programs with better results, discouraging recidivism. Additionally, they were able to determine what programs can be cut altogether due to insufficient or less than desirable results. By allowing policy makers to consider the range of costs and benefits when making decisions, the state of Iowa has been able to create a more cost effective program with better overall outcomes.