How to Use the Information You Find on CrimeSolutions.gov
We created CrimeSolutions.gov to help criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victim
service professionals better understand crime and identify program and practice
solutions that address the unique needs of their communities. Here you will
find tips for practitioners, policy makers, and researchers to use this
information to advance justice. The tips are organized under five headings:
Do you run your own site or blog? You can provide your visitors with access to the program profiles and ratings most
recently posted to CrimeSolutions.gov. Add one of the available CrimeSolutions.gov program widgets to your site.
We also have a 1-page CrimeSolutions.gov flier that you can print and share with your colleagues.
Improving Program Effectiveness
CrimeSolutions.gov helps justice professionals who are not social scientists
improve the effectiveness of programs. The systematic, independent review
process and evidence ratings are intended to give practitioners access to
social science evidence that is otherwise difficult to obtain, and serve
as a basis for gauging the quality of evidence. In short, CrimeSolutions.gov
strives to help practitioners answer the questions Has it worked, and in
- Practitioner Tip 1: Familiarize yourself with evidence-based programs in your field.
- Justice practitioners at all levels may benefit from reviewing the CrimeSolutions.gov
program profiles related to their work, even if they are not in a position to
make decisions about replicating programs. Our profiles show which programs
have produced positive results and which have not. This information can be shared
within agencies and organizations and facilitate conversations with colleagues
and superiors to explore ways to modify existing practices to better align
them with evidence-based programs.
- Practitioner Tip 2: Replicate an evidence-based program.
- Programs rated as "Effective" and "Promising" on CrimeSolutions.gov have produced
positive results in the past. Replicating programs that have been shown to work,
and that fit a community's needs, can save valuable time and resources compared
to implementing untested programs that may not address the same problems as
effectively. The best way to get similar positive results from evidence-based
programs is to replicate them with fidelity to the original design.
Each program on CrimeSolutions.gov includes summary information and additional resources to
help you replicate the program. You should view CrimeSolutions.gov as a starting
point where you may be able to find resources such as dedicated websites, publications,
implementation manuals, training materials, live training, and certifications.
Developing New Strategies
Full replication of evidence-based programs is ideal, but may not always be
possible because well-tested programs do not exist for all circumstances and
populations. Even some programs identified as "Promising" or "Effective" do
not have detailed training materials that specify all the ways to implement them.
That does not mean that you have to start from scratch when it comes to research evidence.
The practice information on CrimeSolutions.gov can help you understand the types of
outcomes that have been achieved (or not achieved) by a general strategy or program type.
The practice profiles point toward the specific programs that have been evaluated.
The broad practice information can guide you to which types of interventions to consider.
- Practitioner Tip 3: Understand the outcome evidence for practices.
- If you are developing or enhancing a strategy for which there is not an evidence-based program,
familiarize yourself with the practices on CrimeSolutions.gov and the related programs listed
on the practice profiles. In the absence of evidence-based programs, this broader information
can help identify the types of programs that are more and less likely to work on the problems you are facing.
- Practitioner Tip 4: Adapt an evidence-based program and evaluate it.
- Rather than build a new program from scratch, practitioners may choose to use tested programs as a
foundation and make as few adjustments as possible to increase the chances that the modified program
will succeed. Such modifications can be very helpful to others in the field when they are carefully
documented and paired with rigorous evaluation. In these cases, adaptation and innovation help
generate new evidence about programs' and practices' effectiveness.
If you are in a position to influence funding, CrimeSolutions.gov can help you make informed decisions.
- Policy Maker Tip 1: Create incentives to use evidence-based programs and practices.
- Investing in programs and practices with demonstrated track records makes sense regardless
of whether funding comes from public or private sources. Similarly, it makes
sense to carefully review and possibly discontinue programs and practices when
evidence shows they have failed to produce their intended results. "Effective"
programs and practices are particularly suitable for replication, especially
when they come with strong training materials. However, policy makers with
funding responsibilities should take care not to oversimplify their task:
CrimeSolutions.gov may be used as one factor in determining worthy and unworthy
investments, but only as one factor among many.
- Policy Maker Tip 2: Create incentives for ongoing innovation and the generation of evidence-based
programs and practices.
- We encourage policy makers who find resources like CrimeSolutions.gov useful to
recognize the innovative practitioners who are striving to solve problems every
day and the social scientists who help produce the evidence. These innovators require
ongoing support so they can develop new evidence-based programs and practices.
Funders can contribute to the growing body of evidence-based programs by pairing
funding for innovative and untested approaches with rigorous evaluation.
CrimeSolutions.gov aims to create demand for programs and practices with proven results.
The profiles on this site provide basic information and resources, but these may
not be enough for practitioners to fully learn and replicate.
- Trainer Tip 1: Develop training materials for evidence-based programs and practices that
have been rated as "Effective."
- Training and technical assistance providers can provide benefits to the field by developing
materials such as logic models, implementation guides, and manuals for evidence-based programs.
Online, open-access materials, and training are particularly beneficial to practitioners in
public agencies and organizations who often work in tight budget environments.
Social scientists play an essential role in identifying evidence to inform practitioners
and policy makers about what is, and is not, effective.
- Researcher Tip 1: Consult CrimeSolutions.gov evidence standards to strengthen program
- CrimeSolutions.gov evidence standards are described in the
Program Scoring Instrument,
and may be useful points of reference during the program evaluation design phase. We developed
the evidence standards for CrimeSolutions.gov in consultation with a wide range of social
scientists in the justice field. We encourage program evaluators to implement the strongest
designs possible for producing causal evidence.
- Researcher Tip 2: Focus on evaluating "Promising" programs using rigorous
evaluation designs to build the body of evidence and increase confidence in
- Many programs we have deemed "Promising" are widely used in the field, and
improving the body of evidence on these programs is particularly helpful.
Social scientists highly committed to helping practitioners identify and use
evidence-based programs can make a valuable scientific contribution by
replicating a prior evaluation using stronger methods.
- Researcher Tip 3: Review this list of program evaluations that did not meet our criteria
for being rated on CrimeSolutions.gov to see gaps in the body of evaluation
research and potentially determine areas of future research.
General Tips for Users
- General Tip 1: Understand that the body of evidence provided varies across topics.
- The extent and quality of effective evidence varies considerably across topic areas within
criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victim services. The availability
of evidence in a topic area is not based on the importance or the extent of
activity in that area, but is more likely to be based on factors related to the
capacity to conduct social science evaluation in that area. The presence or absence of
evidence in a particular topic area does not indicate whether activities in that topic
area are more or less effective than those in another.
- General Tip 2: CrimeSolutions.gov is not yet comprehensive.
- Although CrimeSolutiongs.gov continues to review evidence and add profiles for programs
and practices, there remains social science evidence within criminal justice, juvenile
justice, and crime victim services that CrimeSolutions.gov has not yet reviewed.
Users of this resource should not view CrimeSolutions.gov as a complete body of
social science evidence within justice systems. A list of programs that have been
reviewed, but not rated can be found here. We also allow repeals of a given rating.
- General Tip 3: Understand and share what the term "evidence-based" means.
- A program or practice is considered "evidence-based" if it has been found to
produce its intended results based on rigorous social science evaluation. Many other
notable lines of activity associated with terms like "data-driven" or
"research-based" may sound the same, but programs and practices that have
not been subjected to rigorous evaluation cannot be called evidence-based. Become an
educated consumer and user of these terms to help advance the cause of truly evidence-based
programs and practices.