Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Implementation Science Checklist Series

Criminal justice and behavioral health agencies are increasingly adopting evidence-based practices (EBPs) to advance behavior change among the people they serve. While EBPs can help reduce recidivism and improve public health and safety, their success is often hindered by lack of capacity to implement them properly. But as people who have behavioral health needs continue to encounter criminal justice and behavioral health systems across the country, there is a greater need to ensure that these EBPs are implemented with fidelity.

By taking a research-based approach to implementation, known as implementation science, agencies can improve or strengthen the EBPs they deliver for people in the criminal justice system who have behavioral health needs.

The implementation science checklist series is intended for professionals who direct and oversee programming in the fields of corrections, community corrections, behavioral health, and social service agencies. The collection of eight checklists will help you assess your agency’s evidence-based practice implementation efforts and use a research-based approach to ensure that investments in evidence-based practices yield desired outcomes.

It can be beneficial to follow the checklists sequentially, but your agency should start with the checklist step that reflects your current needs and progress. Then, determine whether your agency is following the numbered action items in each checklist by answering the items that accompany them. Revisit the checklists every 6 to 12 months to evaluate progress and identify continued areas of focus.

Step 1: Initiate or Strengthen Stakeholder Collaboration

This checklist assesses your agency’s efforts to build or maintain collaborative groups that identify, build support for, and oversee the implementation of EBPs.

Step 2: Identify the Problem and Select an Evidence-Based Practice

This checklist assesses your agency’s progress in identifying the problem, examining the need for the EBP(s), and ensuring several EBPs are considered before final selection.

Step 3: Prepare for Implementation

This checklist assesses your agency’s efforts to identify a target population for the EBP and ensure that the selected EBP(s) will address these individuals’ criminogenic risk factors and behavioral health needs.

Step 4: Measure Implementation Fidelity

This checklist assesses how well your agency is implementing EBPs, particularly in relation to original research-based models.

Step 5: Sustain the Evidence-Based Practice

This checklist assesses your agency’s efforts to sustain its implementation of EBPs over time.

Step 6: Master the Core Competencies

This checklist assesses how well your agency is preparing staff to implement the EBPs effectively.

Step 7: Implement Continuous Quality Improvement Processes

This checklist assesses your agency’s efforts to systematically monitor EBP success and work toward improved outcomes on an ongoing basis.

Step 8: Assess Organizational Readiness for Maintaining Evidence-Based Practices

This checklist assesses whether your agency can support and maintain the use of EBPs.

Supporting Research and Additional Information

For more information on implementation science, the research base supporting this science, and how the elements of implementation science apply to criminal justice and behavioral health systems, consider the following resources:

This project was produced in collaboration with the Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence at George Mason University and was supported by Grant No. 2019-MO-BX-K001 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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