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Maine DOC to better harness correctional data to improve outcomes

Tracking the success of rehabilitative programs is about to get a lot easier in the state of Maine’s correctional facilities

Randall Liberty

Department of Corrections Commissioner Randy Liberty speaks at a news conference in the State House, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Augusta, Maine.

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

By Sarah Sinning

AUGUSTA, Maine — With a new focus on helping offenders more meaningfully engage with rehabilitative services, the Maine Department of Corrections has seen multiple successes in recent months.

But while initiatives like its system-wide MAT program and newly opened transitional living residence are clearly helping the department improve outcomes, MDOC officials are confident that a recently announced partnership will help them take this progress even further.

Working with the tech nonprofit Recidiviz, which uses cloud-computing based data platforms to turn criminal justice system data into easy-to-interpret dashboard visualizations, MDOC staff will soon be able to identify trends, track outcomes and identify when interventions are needed in real-time. The platform will combine national criminal justice data with MDOC’s own internal data across various services.

“This marks another turning point for Maine’s model of rehabilitative, person-first correctional services,” said DOC Commissioner Randy Liberty.

“With Recidiviz we’ll be able to determine if a certain policy change has a positive impact on the residents of a specific living unit. We’ll know if residents have better outcomes if their case managers have a specific type of training, and we’ll be able to quickly look at how we compare to other states on important justice reform issues like revocations and pre-release programming,” he said.

The two-year contract also includes a public-facing dashboard that will appear on the MDOC website and will help legislators and other interested parties likewise track metrics like population rates, program completions and return to custody rates.

“By improving how we interact with data, we’re improving services, ensuring better outcomes,” Liberty said.