Report 2010-124 Recommendation 2 Responses

Report 2010-124: Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: The Benefits of Its Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions Program Are Uncertain (Release Date: September 2011)

Recommendation #2 To: Corrections and Rehabilitation, Department of

To ensure that the State does not spend additional resources on COMPAS while its usefulness is uncertain, Corrections should suspend its use of the COMPAS core and reentry assessments until it has demonstrated to the Legislature that it has a plan to measure and report COMPAS's effect on reducing recidivism. Such a plan could consider whether inmates enrolled in a rehabilitative program based on a COMPAS assessment had lower recidivism rates than those provided rehabilitative programming as a result of non-COMPAS factors.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2016

Research conducted by CDCR indicates offenders who participate in Substance Abuse Treatment (SAT) and complete aftercare have a substantially lower return-to-prison rate (15.3%) than offenders who do not participate in SAT or receive aftercare (46.5%). Interventions such as SAT, are shown to be effective in lowering rates of return among substance abusers, who are shown through empirical research to return to prison at higher rates. Offenders that were assessed with COMPAS that were shown to have an SAT need, and completed SAT, returned to prison at a rate of 17.6%. Offenders who were not assessed with COMPAS and received SAT, returned to prison at a rate of 31.2%. Offenders that were assessed with COMPAS and shown to have an SAT need, but did not receive SAT, returned to prison at a rate of 51.5%. Offenders who were shown to have a treatment need through COMPAS, but did not receive treatment, have a substantially higher rate than those who did receive treatment. The use of COMPAS to assess offenders most in need of SAT has largely attributed to lowering recidivism rates. It is clear that participation in SAT is an important component in reducing recidivism and COMPAS is needed to identify those most in need of treatment.

CDCR has maintained since the implementation of the COMPAS automated and needs assessment tool, that COMPAS is not capable of reducing recidivism in a vacuum. It is a tool for determining the most effective rehabilitative programming to address an offender's criminogenic needs. CDCR is also investigating commissioning a study by UCI comparing the COMPAS assessment against a new assessment tool developed by Dr. Farabee at UCLA.

(See provided proof of practice documentation.)

  • Completion Date: December 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented

Although Corrections does not indicate that it suspended the use of COMPASS for any period of time, Corrections does appear to have conducted the type of COMPASS assessment we envisioned when we first made this recommendation.


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2015

Offenders participating in substance abuse treatment (SAT) consistently have lower return to prison rates than offenders who do not participate in SAT. Offenders that were determined to have a substance abuse need by the COMPAS tool and participated in SAT had a return to prison rate of 43.3% while offenders who did not receive a COMPAS assessment and did not participate in SAT had a rate of 52.1%. The return to prison rate for offenders that were identified as having a substance abuse need by COMPAS but did not participate in SAT is the highest among all categories. Offenders assessed with the COMPAS tool with a substance abuse need, but did not receive SAT, had a return to prison rate of 59.4%, which is 5.1% points higher than the state-wide return to prison rate of 54.3% and 16.1 percentage points higher than the rate of offenders who had an identified substance abuse need and received SAT, indicating that SAT participation is effective in reducing the recidivism.

Due to character limitations, please see CDCR's submitted proof of practice for additional information.

  • Completion Date: December 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Will Not Implement

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Corrections) could not provide any evidence that it is monitoring COMPAS' effectiveness as a screening tool when compared to other potential methods for identifying inmates who have rehabilitative needs. Although Correction's 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report had a section devoted to COMPAS, the analysis in that section only concluded that inmates who receive treatment are less likely to return to prison.


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2014

The 2012 Outcome Evaluation Report noted that offenders with a substance abuse need, as identified by the COMPAS assessment, who participated in in-prison SAP and completed aftercare had a lower recidivism rate than offenders with a substance abuse need who only completed aftercare or in-prison SAP, or offenders without a substance abuse need identified.

Offenders who participated in in-prison substance abuse programming, regardless of COMPAS identified need showed a 62.2% recidivism rate, while those who did not participate had a 63.9% recidivism rate.

It is very important to emphasize that the COMPAS assessment is not capable of reducing recidivism by itself. COMPAS is a tool that provides CDCR with information on an offender's individual needs. This information can then be used to place the offender into a program that can meet the offender's specific criminogenic needs. It is the combination of the COMPAS assessment with appropriate and well-implemented evidence based programming that can reduce recidivism.

The 2014 Outcome Evaluation plans to add a comparison of recidivism rates for individuals with a COMPAS need who received substance abuse treatment vs. those who received treatment but did not have a COMPAS need to the recidivism report, which is compiled after we transition our data to SOMS.

  • Completion Date: December 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented

Although Corrections compared the recidivism rates of certain inmates who had received a COMPAS assessment to those who had not, Corrections has yet to define a performance standard to evaluate the tool's effectiveness at placing the right inmate in the right rehabilitative program to reduce recidivism. We also noted that the recidivism rates for those inmates receiving a COMPAS assessment were not significantly different than the rates for those that did not.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2013

In the 2012 Outcome Evaluation Report, CDCR reported recidivism rates for the following groups: 1) those who received substance abuse treatment in prison, 2) those who received substance abuse treatment in aftercare, 3) those who received both in-prison and aftercare substance abuse treatment, 4) those who did not receive substance abuse treatment, 5) those who had a COMPAS substance abuse need and received substance abuse treatment in prison, 6) those who had a COMPAS substance abuse need and received substance abuse treatment in aftercare, 7) those who had a COMPAS substance abuse need and received substance abuse treatment in prison and aftercare, 8) those who had a COMPAS substance abuse need and did not receive substance abuse treatment, and 9) those who did not have a COMPAS substance abuse need or were not assessed.

CDCR plans to add a comparison of recidivism rates for individuals with a COMPAS need who received substance abuse treatment vs. those who received treatment but did not have a COMPAS need to the recidivism report which is compiled after we transition our data to SOMS.

  • Completion Date: December 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented

Although Corrections compared the recidivisim rates of certain inmates who had received a COMPAS assessment to those who had not, Corrections has yet to define a performance standard to evaluate the tool's effectiveness at placing the right inmate in the right rehabilitative program to reduce recidivism. Finally, we note that the recidivism rates for those inmates receiving a COMPAS assessment were not significantly different than those that did not.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From November 2012

CDCR's 2012 Outcome Evaluation Report included recidivism rates by COMPAS needs categories (pp. 52-54).

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

All Recommendations in 2010-124

Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.


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