A little while back, I got a question from a commenter in response to my claim that there wasn't really a corrections research organization. He wanted to know what I thought the National Institute of Corrections was. I was guilty of being too vague in my haste to post (ask other bloggers how easy that is to do). My point was never that NIC didn't do and disseminate valuable research on corrections. I'm frequently linking to great posts by its terrific blog, Corrections Community and have it listed in our blog buddies on the right. My point was really that NIC covered such a breadth of material that I just didn't think of it as an organization focused on the people whose job (like mine now) is to do the institutional research for corrections departments. NIC is an example of a premier research organization for any professional group.
Now it's rubbing it in. A few days ago, my department director passed along a notice that NIC is in the process of forming something of the kind of group I was talking about--the Institutional Corrections Research Network. According to the notice, this body "would be a group of correctional administrators and institutional researchers that would meet regularly to discuss research in the field of corrections. More specifically, the group would discuss the types of issues and areas around which research is either currently being doen or should be done, thus helping NIC to ensure that the projects that they fund are meeting the needs of the field." Ultimately, NIC wants from this to "(1) create a cumulative body of knowledge about corrections, (2) determine how to contextualize that knowledge, and (3) create the structures and approaches that will push that knowledge out and into the field as a whole."
Since nowhere in the notice was the word "kegger," I'm not sure if this will get at everything I'm actually thinking of when I think of a strictly correctional researcher organization, but this sounds like a really terrific start. With the push for evidence-based practice now, many corrections departments are becoming less protective of their data and information and more aggressive about incorporating research and best practice into their operations. This organization will be greatly appreciated and used, I'm sure. I'm really looking forward to how it develops.