What is an Evidence-Based Program?

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) considers programs and practices to be evidence-based when their effectiveness has been positively demonstrated by causal evidence, generally obtained through one or more outcome evaluations. Causal evidence documents a relationship between an activity or intervention (including technology) and its intended outcome, including measuring the direction and size of a change and the extent to which a change may be attributed to the activity or intervention. Causal evidence depends on the use of scientific methods to rule out, to the extent possible, alternative explanations for the documented change. The strength of causal evidence, based on the factors described above, influences the degree to which OJP considers a program or practice to be evidence-based.

There are core activities that criminal justice, juvenile justice, and victim services community leaders can take to successfully adopt evidence-based programs and practices in their organizations and more broadly system-wide across a jurisdiction. The OJP Diagnostic Center provides assistance to government executives and community leaders on how to select and implement evidence-based programs according to these four sequential phases of program selection and implementation.

For more information on how the Diagnostic Center helps communities address public safety challenges, visit our Approach to Assisting Communities page.