Hispanic father and daughter hugging at park

What Does it Mean to be “Evidence-Based”?

Real Solutions Backed by Research

Evidence-based practices, increasingly essential in corrections, refer to programs that have undergone rigorous evaluation research, demonstrating that their results are directly due to the program itself. These programs are critically peer-reviewed and recognized as effective by a federal agency or respected research organization, often appearing on their registries or lists of approved programs.

Read the Original Study

Read the 2022 Study on Post-Release Outcomes


reduction in post-release arrests


reduction in self-reported criminal behavior


less likely to report substance use

increased optimism and family contact

Outcome Study

The Parent Child Study, a longitudinal randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of the Parenting Inside Out (PIO) program, was conducted beginning in the mid-2000s. The study was funded through a $2.1 million grant awarded to the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and is the largest ever conducted on a parenting program for this population of incarcerated individuals. The principal investigator of the study was Dr. J. Mark Eddy, and the primary co-investigators were Dr. Charles R. Martinez, Jr., Dr. Rex Newton, Dr. Bert Burraston, and Dr. John B. Reid.

The study followed 359 incarcerated parents and their families. A variety of outcomes were measured in the study, from the quality of parent-child relationships and parent-caregiver relationships during prison to re-arrest and substance use rates following release into the community. The results of the Parent Child Study demonstrated that Parenting Inside Out has measurable positive impacts on key outcomes. The study followed parents during their final year of incarceration and for one year after they were released from prison. Parenting Inside Out is the only parenting program for justice-involved parents that has been the subject of a longitudinal randomized controlled trial with a relatively large sample size and a diverse sample. The study contrasted outcomes of parents assigned to receive PIO or to a services-as-usual control group and yielded the following results:


  • At one year post-release, the PIO participants had a 34% reduction in post-release arrests compared to control group participants (men, 41%, women, 32%)
  • At one year post release, PIO participants had a 29% reduction in self-reported criminal behavior when compared to controls. PIO participants were 1.5 times more likely to report no crimes post-release than did the controls.
  • After release from prison, PIO fathers reported using significantly more positive reinforcement with their children than did the fathers in the control group. Furthermore, PIO participants reported less use of poor/inconsistent discipline practice than did control group participants.
  • At six months post release, PIO participants were 1.6 times more likely to report no substance use problems than controls.
  • PIO participants had significantly lower depression scores (on the CES-D) and higher positive prison attitude adjustment scores following their PIO class, than did the control group.
  • During incarceration, PIO participants reported significantly more positive parent-child contact, had a higher score on the Parent Ease of Relationship with Caregiver measurement at the end of their PIO class, and received more total family visits than did controls.

Study Participants

Incarcerated parents throughout the state of Oregon were invited to participate in the study; 453 were eligible for the intervention, and 80% of them (N=359) were eligible for the study. Participants residing in Oregon Department of Corrections institutions:

  • Parents of children ages 3 to 11
  • Had some role in parenting their children in the past; expected such a role in the future
  • Of the participants, 50% were men and 41% were racial and/or ethnic minorities.

Study Design

Participants were randomly assigned to Parenting Inside Out or services as usual control condition.  The program was delivered by trained and supervised coaches from an established, community-based nonprofit service agency, Pathfinders of Oregon, now The Pathfinder Network.

Participants were assessed before, during, and after the intervention period, and then followed up to one year after release from prison. Data were collected from:
Incarcerated parents

  • Children
  • Caregivers
  • Teachers of incarcerated parents children
  • Official school, court, and Department of Corrections records

Trained parenting coaches delivered Parenting Inside Out with high fidelity. Participation in the program was high, as was parent satisfaction.

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