, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 381-402

Bayesian analysis and the accumulation of evidence in crime and justice intervention studies

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In recent years a great deal of attention has turned to the need for policy-relevant research in criminology. Methodologically, attention has been trained on the use of randomized experimental designs and cumulative systematic reviews of evidence to accomplish this goal. Our work here reviews and demonstrates the utility of the Bayesian analytic framework, in the context of crime prevention and justice treatment studies, as a means of furthering the goals of research synthesis and creation of policy-relevant scientific statements. Evidence from various fields is used as a foundation for the discussion, and an empirical example illustrates how this approach might be useful in practical criminological research. It is concluded that Bayesian analysis offers a useful complement to existing approaches and warrants further inclusion in the ongoing discussion about how best to assess program effectiveness, synthesize evidence, and report findings from crime and justice evaluations in a way that is relevant to policy makers and practitioners.

Data utilized in this paper were drawn from Petersilia, Joan, Susan Turner, and Elizabeth Piper Deschenes. Intensive supervision for high-risk offenders in 14 sites in the United States, 1987–1990 (Computer file). ICPSR version. Santa Monica, CA, USA: The RAND Corporation (producer), 1994. Ann Arbor, MI, USA: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (distributor), 1999.