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  About: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)  
What does ACE! stand for?
ACE! is the Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence!

Where is ACE! located?
ACE! is part of George Mason University’s Department of Criminology, Law, & Society and is located on the Fairfax campus.

Our mailing address is:
Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence (ACE!)
George Mason University Criminology, Law and Society
4087 University Drive
Suite 4100
Mail Stop 6D3
Fairfax, VA 22032

Do you only deal with corrections?
No. While adult and juvenile corrections are among our primary areas of expertise, ACE! researchers also have extensive experience with public health issues and with organizational change in different types of organizations, not just correctional agencies.

Where does your funding come from?
ACE! is supported by both George Mason University and by outside funding. We have a number of grants from federal and other funding sources to develop research projects. Some of the agencies that support and benefit from ACE!’s work include the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the National Institute of Justice, and the State of Maryland.

I am interested in learning more about an ACE! project. How do I do that?
To learn more about an ACE! project, please visit our research pages. For further information, please contact the project manager or director listed. If inquiring about a past project, or if no manager is listed, please email

I am interested in working with ACE! on a project or a grant application? How do I do that?
We are always interested in finding new research opportunities and new research partners! Please contact Dr. Faye Taxman and Dr. Danielle Rudes to discuss a research idea.

Do I have to be a university professor or student to work with ACE!?
No. ACE! has research partners from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit companies, as well as universities.

I would like to have Dr. Faye Taxman or Dr. Danielle Rudes speak at an upcoming conference. How do I get in touch with them?
Please contact Dr. Faye Taxman and Dr. Danielle Rudes if you are interested in having them speak to your group.

Frequently Asked Questions about CJ-TRAK/RNR


CJ-TRAK Homepage

How long does it take to complete the tool?

The Assess an Individual (AAI) tool takes about 10-15 minutes to complete if you have the needed information and/or can ask the client the questions on the tool. The RNR Program Tool for Adults takes approximately 60-90 minutes to complete, and the user will generally need to gather some program information beforehand. The Assess Jurisdiction Capacity (AJC) tool takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Who has the tool been designed for? Is it generally corrections or both corrections and treatment providers using the tool?
The suite is designed for collaboration between treatment and corrections. Ideally, a corrections agency initiates use of the suite and meets with community or facility-based treatment providers to disseminate the Program Tool for Adults, which is then completed by the programs, and the corrections agency is able to see the results. The corrections agency is responsible for completing the AJC tool. For the AAI tool, line officers from the corrections agency enter the data (or the jurisdiction provides data on individuals involved in the criminal justice system to GMU, and the officers can skip this step) and/or community providers can access the AAI tool and use it to determine whether an individual would benefit from their program.

Can the RNR tool be used with clients who are not in the criminal justice system?
For example in a medication assisted program, the client might not be in the justice system but has high criminal thinking and fits most of the characteristics of a high risk criminal justice client. The AAI is designed for criminal justice-involved clients, but it can also be used for non-criminal justice-involved clients. When asked about risk level, select "no risk tool is used" or use the built in risk level screener to determine the clients risk level. In the case of a non-criminal justice-involved client, users would ignore the recidivism risk output and look only at the strengths and needs as well as the treatment recommendations. The Program Tool for Adults can also be used by treatment providers whose clients are not all involved in the criminal justice system.

While effective programs can produce positive results for individuals involved in the criminal justice system, has there been research to actually test the theory that systems using the RNR framework for their entire organization produce cost-effective results?
The RNR tools are relatively new (launched in January 2013), so long-term results are not yet available. As we test the tools with different jurisdictions, we are developing case studies to determine how they are using the tools and what results they produce.

Can the RNR Simulation Tool be easily modified as different special populations emerge (e.g., Veterans courts)?
The specialized court portion of the Program Tool for Adults is designed to adhere to guiding principles that apply to any problem-solving court, not only drug courts. As we see new populations emerge that require specialized treatment, we are working to develop enhancements to the tools that reflect the needs of those special populations.

How does the tool score the free text fields?
The free text fields are not scored. They allow users to record additional relevant program information and provide valuable information to the GMU team so we can continue to update and improve the tool to accurately reflect programs.

Who completes the tools and how do they gather all the necessary information?
Please see the instructions for completing the tool, provided at:,, and

The most appropriate person to complete the Program Tool for Adults is the staff member or members who is most knowledgeable about the program, such as a program manager. The AAI tool should be completed by line officers or front-line treatment staff, and the AJC tool should be completed by an agency staff member who knows the jurisdictions aggregate or system-level data very well.

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  Definition List  

Behavioral contracting: a reinforcement tool that is used to reward positive behavior. In behavioral contracting, the teacher, clinician, probation officer, or other professional works with the client to develop explicit goals and expectations and informs the client of potential positive and negative consequences.


Buprenorphine: a derivative of the morphine alkaloid thebaine and a strong pain reliever with marked narcotic antagonist activity used in medication-assisted treatment of opioid dependence. To learn more about buprenorphine, please see Heel et al. (1979).


CJ-DATS: a cooperative research program to explore the issues related to the complex system of offender treatment services. The vision of the CJ-DATS research program is to improve outcomes for offenders with substance use disorders by improving the integration of drug abuse treatment with public safety and public health systems. For more information, please visit the CJ-DATS website.


Compulsory treatment: activities that increase the likelihood that drug abusers will enter and remain in treatment, change their behavior in a socially desirable way, and sustain that change. To read more about compulsory treatment, see the article by Leukefeld and Tims (1988).


Contingency management: a type of intervention that utilizes systematic reinforcement with rewards (or punishment) to alter problem behaviors in offenders. To learn more about contingency management, see research by Prendergast, Petry, and Stitzer.

Continuum of care models: models that emphasize integration of treatments and systems in order to improve the standard of care for clients. This model is used in a number of settings, particularly in healthcare.

Correctional health: the field of work on healthcare for those involved in the corrections systems, including those in jail or prison as well as those on supervised release in the community. These populations have greater risk for certain conditions than the general population, and each setting brings with it unique challenges.


Evidence-based practices (EBPs): the integration of best research evidence, clinical expertise, and individual needs and choices. EBPs are identified and used in numerous fields, ranging from medicine to plumbing to corrections.


Experimental design: a specific plan for a research study which includes methods of selecting and assigning subjects as well as number and types of treatment variables. Experimental designs must also contain at least two comparison groups with at least one group receiving a treatment.


Implementation research: research that supports the movement of evidence-based interventions and approaches from an experimental, controlled environment into the actual delivery contexts where the programs, tools and guidelines will be utilized, promoted, and integrated into the existing operational culture. To learn more about implementation research, see this Rubenstein and Pugh (2006) article.


Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): treatment for substance abuse that involves the use of medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine to prevent withdrawal, decrease craving, and diminish the effects of the addictive substance. To learn more about medication-assisted treatment, please see this article by Bruce and Schleifer (2008).


Motivational Interviewing: a directive, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients explore and resolve ambivalence. To learn more about motivational interviewing, see this Rollnick & Miller (1995) article.


Naturalistic study: a type of study in which the researcher carefully observes and records behaviors or phenomena in their natural settings, while interfering as little as possible.


Organizational surveys: surveys tailored to organizations that are used as a tool to obtain feedback and information to help improve organizational effectiveness.

Patient Navigators: health care professionals who assist patients, caregivers and families by overcoming barriers to the timely reception of health care by utilizing resources. To learn more about patient navigators, see this Dohan & Schrag (2005) article.

Randomized experiment: an experiment in which research subjects are randomly assigned to the treatment and comparison groups.

Randomized block experiment: a type of experiment that uses a nonrandom procedure first to assign subjects to groups based on a similarity factor and then uses a random procedure to assign the groups to the treatment and comparison groups.


Readiness for change: a shared resolve among members of an organization to implement a change and shared beliefs in their collective capability to do so. To learn more about readiness to change, see this article by Weiner (2009).


Risk-need-responsivity (RNR) principle: developed by Andrews and Bonta in 1990. It integrates the psychology of criminal conduct into an understanding of how to reduce recidivism. Using this concept, they identify three principles to guide the assessment and treatment of offenders to advance rehabilitative goals as well as reduce risk to society: risk principle, need principle, and responsivity principle. To learn more about the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) principle, read this article by Taxman, Thanner, and Weisburd (2006).


Seamless systems of care: A seamless system of care is a model that incorporates treatment within the criminal justice system. Its main objective is to redefine the relationship between the criminal justice and treatment systems into a boundaryless system. The four key components of a seamless system include: (1) continuum of care, (2) supervision, (3) urinalysis testing, and (4) compliance measures and graduated sanctions.

Systemic case management: a form of case management that integrates system features that are critical to effectively treat offender populations within the criminal justice and treatment systems as part of the ongoing processes for handling offenders. The systemic approach focuses on resource development, social action plans, policy formation, data collection, information management, program evaluation, and quality assurance and integrates traditional case management functions within the roles and responsibilities of the appropriate treatment and criminal justice staff.

Technology transfer: the movement of know-how, technical knowledge, or technology from one organizational setting to another. To learn more about technology transfer, see this Bozeman (2000) article.

Utilization enhancers: elements of programs that contribute to their effectiveness, such as organizational culture and quality improvement. Utilization enhancer studies identify how an intervention works: factors that aid (or undermine) implementation or maintenance.


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