Peggy Ritchie and I are both veterans of the National Institute of Corrections in Colorado—Peggy was at both NIC’s Academy and the NIC Information Center. We collaborated on national assessments and surveys to identify trends in state corrections and elicit practitioners’ knowledge, with the aim of developing and improving NIC training programs.
Peggy’s areas of expertise included health services, substance abuse and sex offender programs, quality assurance, budgeting, leadership, and management of death row inmates. Before coming to NIC, Peggy was a warden in the Arizona Department of Corrections and held deputy director positions in the California and Ohio state corrections systems.
Today Peggy operates Ritchie Consulting Services. As a registered lobbyist in Colorado, her goal is to influence policies around the conditions of parole and probation release, with an emphasis on success under supervision. She says that to support successful re-entry to society, justice system solutions need to be both humane and trauma-informed—as shown by data and evidence.
Peggy says, “The research shows that recidivism can be reduced when targeted interventions focus on RNR factors—each individual offender’s assessed risk factors, needs, and responsivity to evidence-based programs.” She adds, “The general public, politicians, and legislators need to know that we have the tools to reduce recidivism through evidence-based assessment instruments and programming. Funding needs to be focused on treatment for the highest-risk offenders.”
Peggy’s career path emerged during an internship in juvenile probation while she was earning her master’s degree. She observed that the court system was making placement decisions before cases came before a judge and without the input of the youth or their parents. She saw a clear need for stronger advocacy on behalf of offenders and their families. Also at that time, no one from the court, the prosecution, or probation was visiting the state’s program placements to assure facility safety and other conditions. “This was not justice for the offender, in my mind,” Peggy notes.
In addition to her other contributions, Peggy is a consultant with the National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resource Center. In that capacity, she assists agencies in becoming PREA-compliant through coaching, training, and policy reviews.
Peggy’s career exemplifies the importance of blending the pragmatic and humanitarian perspectives to create safe, fair, and effective justice system outcomes.