Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Prison from the Outside: Evaluating the Pain of the Prison System Program

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 10:55 AM
Johnson I (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

B. Danielle Williams, University of Southern California
The dramatic increase in incarceration in the United States has resulted in a growing number of children who experience parental incarceration and an increased need for families and schools to deal with incarceration’s impact on children. However, few evaluations of programs that specifically aim to assist these children have been performed. This study contributes to the nascent literature by evaluating the Pain of the Prison System (P.O.P.S.) program, an innovative program established at a Los Angeles high school in 2013 to help adolescents facing the challenges associated with engagement with the prison system. The P.O.P.S. club was formed with the intention of providing support to students who have personally dealt with the criminal justice system or who have incarcerated family members. The club offers students a venue to safely discuss personal issues related to incarceration and the opportunity to express themselves creatively through writing and other means. This study evaluates the impact of participation in P.O.P.S. by using longitudinal data provided by the Los Angeles Unified School District and a pre-test/post-test methodology with a non-randomized comparison group to estimate the impact of P.O.P.S. participation on students’ academic performance and behavior. The evaluation is intended to be broadly applicable to school administrators beyond Los Angeles and to provide them with valuable information that will guide resource allocation and determine the potential for P.O.P.S., or a similar program, to play an important role in a larger strategy to improve the performance of at-risk students.