Through its EBDM initiative, which posits risk and harm reduction as fundamental goals of the justice system, NIC has supported the implementation of its EBDM Framework in multiple jurisdictions across the country since 2010. Pilot sites participating in the EBDM initiative made great progress in aligning key decisions, policies, and practices with the research evidence and the specific goals they articulated for their criminal justice systems. They successfully sustained multidisciplinary collaborative teams and removed structural barriers that typically inhibit the effectiveness of cross-system efforts. The collaborative process has resulted in a greater degree of systemwide evidence-based decision making and more consistent application of evidence-based practices across multiple agencies and stakeholders. As reflected through these case studies, key areas of advancement among the EBDM pilot sites include:

  • expanding universal screening of pretrial defendants;
  • expanding or implementing diversion and/or deferred prosecution/early intervention programs;
  • increasing the use of risk and/or need assessment information across various decision points (e.g., diversion from the justice system, booking, pretrial release and supervision, sentencing, jail programming);
  • utilizing structured processes and tools to ensure that actuarial risk assessment data informs pretrial release decisions (e.g., bond, level of pretrial supervision);
  • designing methods to use research evidence to inform plea negotiations and sentencing;
  • increasing the use of evidence‐based programming in jails and community settings;
  • reducing community supervision caseloads and enhancing the use of risk reduction supervision strategies; and
  • developing structured responses to prosocial and noncompliant behavior throughout the justice system.

In addition, the EBDM sites designed and implemented methods to capture and analyze performance measurement data, and created dashboards and other mechanisms to track progress towards meeting their systemwide goals.

Evidence-based decision making holds great promise for achieving improved criminal justice outcomes, including reducing pretrial misconduct and post-conviction offending, and reducing victimization. Local and state leaders are successfully engaging in deliberate, collaborative policymaking informed by social science research, and demonstrating that it is possible to collaboratively implement significant policy changes that reduce crime and victimization while, at the same time, holding those who perpetrate crime accountable for their behavior.