Gralapp, S., Agner, J., Pruitt, A. S., & Barile, J. P.
American Evaluation Association Annual Conference, Washington D.C.
Publication year: 2017

Corrections is an infamously locked and broken system. Participatory evaluation is a tool for paving the road to reparation. However, the primary stakeholders – the inmates – are a protected, vulnerable, and inaccessible to evaluators. Without access to primary stakeholders, evaluators often rely heavily on employees/service providers. Unfortunately, gaining buy-in from these employees/service providers is challenging; they feel overworked, underappreciated, and underpaid, assuming an outsider wouldn’t understand. To gain buy-in, the evaluator must morph from outsider to insider, requiring time and trust. An unintended consequence of the evaluator’s metamorphosis is becoming vulnerable to issues associated with working in locked settings that employees/service providers face like vicarious traumatization resulting from regular proximity to trauma. Employees/service providers are also a vulnerable population, but an unprotected one. This presentation will identify systematic roadblocks to conducting participatory evaluations with a ridged, hierarchical institution, and review the potential for trauma to the participants and evaluators.