From Evidence-Based Practices to a Comprehensive Intervention Model for High-Risk Young Men: The Story of Roca

New Thinking in Community Corrections

September 27, 2017
Authors: Molly Baldwin and Yotam Zeira

The Executive Session on Community Corrections released a new paper in the New Thinking in Community Corrections series, entitled From Evidence-Based Practices to a Comprehensive Intervention Model for High-Risk Young Men: The Story of Roca.

In this new report co-authored by Molly Baldwin and Yotam Zeira, the authors discuss how Roca, an almost 30-year-old community-based organization with 3 locations in Massachusetts, has embraced evidence-based practices to ensure the success of high-risk young people in community corrections.

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  • “As justice systems increasingly grapple with how to create a developmentally appropriate response to offending by young adults, this report shows that the Roca model of relentless follow up and meticulous attention to data are a winning combination for policy makers to pay attention to.” – Vincent Schiraldi, Senior Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice, and former NYC Probation Commissioner

After close study of community corrections’ evidence-based research, Roca identified eight evidence-based practices that were relevant for their target population. With these eight principles as the foundation, Roca developed a four-year intervention model that is a behavioral change and skill development intervention that focuses on high-risk young men in a non-mandated program.

The implementation of evidence-based practices at Roca has spanned more than a decade, and the program continues to develop. Roca has learned important lessons about evidence-based practices that may be relevant for other community corrections agencies as well:

  1. The combination of evidence-based practices matters as much as the specific practices adopted, and requires special attention.
  2. Clear definition of the target population is critical.
  3. Long-term implementation of evidence-based practices requires intentional sustaining efforts.
  4. Fidelity is critical to replication but should not prevent adaptions.

Praise for The Story of Roca:

  • “As America moves away from its failed experiment with mass incarceration which has produced so much human carnage, it is vital that successful community-based crime prevention programs like Roca be recognized, supported, and replicated.  The Story of Roca is an important contribution to a growing body of literature that proves that even the people considered most at risk can turn their lives around if given the supports and opportunities they deserve.  This paper is a must read for criminal justice policy makers at all levels--federal, state and local.” – Glenn Martin, Founder and President, JustLeadershipUSA

Molly Baldwin is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Roca; Yotam Zeira is the Director of External Affairs at Roca.

The Executive Session on Community Corrections is a project of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), the Malcolm Wiener Center, and the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management (PCJ) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).

Findings and conclusions in these publications are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.

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Download this report

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