NIC's Norval Morris project progresses.

Author:Innes, Christopher A.
Position:NIC Update - National Institute of Corrections

"How can we transform correctional leadership and the workforce in ways that empower staff in reducing recidivism?"

"How can we safely and systematically reduce the correctional population by half in eight years?"

These two provocative questions were posed as part of the Norval Morris Project, a unique National Institute of Corrections' project dedicated to the memory of Norval Morris, Ph.D., who was instrumental in founding NIC and remained a guiding influence as a charter member of the NIC Advisory Board until he passed away in 2004. The project is being carried out through cooperative agreements between NIC and Justice System Assessment & Training (JSAT), led by Brad Bogue and based in Boulder, Colo. The NIC Advisotry Board established the Project to continue the spirit of Morris' work.

Morris believed the corrections field did not make effective use of research, and among his keenest interests was the effective dissemination of research findings to inform the field. At its heart, the Norval Morris Project is about designing and developing what might be called an "innovation pump" for expediting the circulation of evidence and skill-based innovations, knowledge and ideas throughout the field of corrections. The project functions through a structure that brings together people both inside and outside the field to develop inter-disciplinary approaches and draw on professional networks that cut across academic, private sector and public sector boundaries. Such an expansive vision requires a steering group to guide development and engages many disciplines, agencies and businesses. Because this group's responsibility is essential for creating and maintaining the Project's overarching vision, it is called the Keystone Group.

The first Keystone Group meeting took place in September 2008 during a weekend retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It involved 19 thought leaders--half of them corrections practitioners--plus NIC senior staff and JSAT project staff. The retreat was designed to be emergent, without preset limits on the group's scope of work, design, or strategy. It used the Open Space method, which is a way to quickly develop innovative ideas by allowing a group of participants to propose, sort through and immediately begin work on topics they develop on the spot, without any prior agenda. One of the technique's best known facilitators, Peggy Holman, facilitated the event. The Keystone Group will continue to meet and generate new ideas for...

To continue reading