LRADAC’s Pam Imm, Ph.D. contributes to The Practice of Evaluation, a graduate textbook on evaluation processes

Imm and her fellow authors profiled an empowerment evaluation model, demonstrating its application and effectiveness in a re-entry initiative for male prisoners returning to their communities.

Contributing to the practical use of evaluation data is one of the values that Dr. Pam Imm learned during her training in clinical/community psychology at USC. “This lesson is one that I really took to heart,” said Dr. Imm. “I’m all about the use of practical models and tools that organizations can use as they work in communities and do evaluation work.” Dr. Imm, who has worked with LRADAC’s prevention department for over two decades, routinely participates in a variety of evaluation projects both inside and outside of South Carolina, including a new graduate textbook, The Practice of Evaluation, recently published by Sage. In the book, Dr. Imm and her co-authors describe the use of the empowerment evaluation model and demonstrate its application in a re-entry initiative for male prisoners returning to their communities. 

The project, done in collaboration with The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, Brandeis University, criminal justice agencies, and community health partners, showed that providing comprehensive wrap-around services for males re-entering the community showed significant decreases in reincarceration rates and reduced economic and social costs due to crime. The reduction in recidivism yielded a 59% return on investment based on one-year incarceration costs in Massachusetts. 

Dr. Imm was asked to write the chapter to show how evaluators can facilitate more complicated evaluation processes in communities. Throughout her career, she has contributed to literature on empowerment evaluation, and she and her colleagues have won national awards for the empowerment evaluation models known as Getting to Outcomes and the Strategic Prevention Framework. “It’s been great to see local, state, and national agencies adopt these models to increase evaluation capacities in various settings,” said Dr. Imm. 

In the chapter, the authors describe how the use of empowerment evaluation strategies was able to increase the evaluation capacities of the Massachusetts coalition to track important evaluation measures such as fidelity, process data, and longer-term outcomes. They used their data to secure $7 million from the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to replicate the service model in Worcester and Middlesex Counties through 2021. “The coalition already has an initial plan for statewide adoption if the outcomes in this test period are positive. The foundation’s focus has always been on facilitating systems-level change and using data to ensure effective programming through policy change,” said Dr. Imm.

The Practice of Evaluation textbook will be used in university settings where graduate-level evaluation classes are taught. The editors present a vast array of evaluation models and strategies that can be useful to those working in the areas of local, state, and national evaluation projects. For more information about the textbook, visit https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/the-practice-of-evaluation/book254842

LRADAC is the designated alcohol abuse and drug abuse authority for Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. The public, not-for-profit agency offers a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties. The agency has a budget of approximately $10 million and serves more than 5,000 clients per year.