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.
Illustrations of Pilot Sites’ Contributions to Statewide EBDM Efforts
An important step on the EBDM Phase III roadmap is sharing information about the benefits of the EBDM approach with in-state colleagues. The following highlights some of the ways EBDM pilot sites engaged their colleagues and catalyzed expansion of EBDM to additional counties within their states, and at the state level.
- EBDM team members from Eau Claire and Milwaukee counties laid the groundwork for EBDM expansion in Wisconsin in a variety of ways. For example, representatives from Eau Claire County have presented on EBDM to 45 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties in various forums. Representatives from Milwaukee County have hosted numerous colleagues interested in learning from their EBDM experiences. Both Wisconsin pilot sites played a critical role in Wisconsin’s participation in Phase IV, and ultimately the expansion of EBDM in the state through Phase V. They also serve as members of the Wisconsin State EBDM Phase V and VI Policy Team and on the state team’s work groups.
- The interest of Grant County, Indiana, in a data dashboard led to their engagement with the Indiana Supreme Court’s Office of Technology for assistance with its development. Using Grant County’s dashboard as a prototype, the Supreme Court has since implemented a version for all Indiana judges to help them manage case processing times for civil and criminal cases. Similarly, identification of concerns by Grant County team members with pretrial assessment resulted in a dialogue between local officials and state-level partners, particularly the Indiana Supreme Court which, in December 2013, established a committee (which includes Grant County representatives) tasked with exploring the need for and avenues to improve pretrial practices in Indiana. Grant County’s involvement in EBDM led to the state’s participation in Phase IV, the formation of the Indiana State EBDM Policy Team, and the expansion of EBDM to six additional counties in Indiana in Phase V. Indiana’s Phase VI EBDM work will focus in large part on statewide pretrial reform.
- EBDM policy team members from Charlottesville/Albemarle County, Virginia, provided multiple presentations on EBDM to state officials and other local stakeholders and at professional association meetings throughout the state. Policy team members met with state officials to encourage Virginia’s participation in Phase IV and provided valuable information and assistance in the development of the state’s application. The team continues with their work of actively implementing the EBDM principles and serves as a model for communities across Virginia. Some of its representatives also serve as capacity builders to facilitate understanding of EBDM and have assisted other Virginia-based teams in roadmap activities. Two of their policy team members are part of the Virginia State EBDM Policy Team and have taken a leadership role in working on two of the state’s key change targets (responses to probation noncompliance and the alignment of pretrial policies with research evidence).
Starting in 2013, NIC shifted its focus to expanding the use of the EBDM Framework beyond single, local jurisdictions. The goal of Phase IV of the EBDM initiative was to equip and build capacity within interested, participating EBDM states to expand their EBDM efforts to include additional local jurisdictions and state-level colleagues. In Phase IV, NIC and its EBDM partners worked closely with state-level planning teams in five states—Colorado, Indiana, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin. These teams conducted exploratory analyses of their policies, practices, and capacity to collect and analyze data; took steps to gauge the level of interest in and understanding of EBDM across their respective states; and conducted EBDM awareness-building activities. As a result of these activities, each state-level planning team identified a strategic alignment of state and local partners to support the advancement of EBDM within their state.
In November 2014, Indiana, Virginia, and Wisconsin were selected, on a competitive basis, to work in partnership with NIC on Phase V of the initiative. The goal of Phase V was to advance criminal justice system outcomes throughout communities in their states. As in the previous phases, jurisdictions received technical assistance from NIC and its partners to conduct a series of planning activities, with the goal of implementing systemwide change strategies to align local and state jurisdictions with one another and with the principles of EBDM. The following 21 teams participated in Phase V of the EBDM initiative:
- Indiana: State EBDM policy team, Bartholomew County, Hamilton County, Hendricks County, Jefferson County, Porter County, Tipton County;
- Virginia: State EBDM policy team, Chesterfield/Colonial Heights, Norfolk, Petersburg, Prince William County/Manassas/Manassas Park, Richmond, Staunton/Augusta County/Waynesboro; and
- Wisconsin: State EBDM policy team, Chippewa County, La Crosse County, Marathon County, Outagamie County, Rock County, Waukesha County.
In September 2016, NIC announced that it would continue to provide some level of support to each of the three states as they move to Phase VI and implement their action plans in accordance with the Phase VI roadmap. In Indiana, NIC technical assistance will include a special focus on developing a high functioning pretrial justice system at the state and local levels.
In September 2010, NIC selected the Urban Institute to evaluate the quality, relevance, and content of the technical assistance provided during Phase II of the EBDM initiative. Results indicate that the TA enhanced site capacity in critical areas, including:
- strengthened collaboration;
- increased EBDM and system knowledge;
- increased support for EBDM principles and practices;
- identification of change targets; and
- facilitation of strategic planning.
Furthermore, EBDM pilot site stakeholders generally rated the TA positively, giving it high marks on relevance, quality, responsiveness, and utility. The assistance of the sites’ TA providers was noted as the most essential component of Phase II.
For more information on the Urban Institute’s report, visit the NIC Evaluation Brief.
As a result of their participation in EBDM, the pilot sites from Phases II and III of the initiative have all benefited from the more consistent application of evidence-based decision making across multiple agencies and stakeholders. They have sustained multidisciplinary collaborative teams over the course of three years (or more) and have removed structural barriers that are common inhibiters to complex, cross-system policy development. As highlighted in the earlier chapters, some of the areas in which EBDM sites made policy and practice changes to align their activities with research included:
- using a proxy tool at the cite/release, booking, charging, and/or plea negotiation stages;
- implementing objective risk/needs tools at pretrial;
- conducting universal screening of pretrial defendants;
- developing a praxis to guide pretrial release conditions;
- expanding or implementing diversion and/or deferred prosecution/early intervention programs;
- increasing the use of risk/need information at sentencing;
- aligning specialty courts with evidence‐based research;
- increasing the use of evidence‐based programming in jails and community settings;
- establishing Preferred Provider Networks; and
- developing evidence‐based responses to pretrial and post‐conviction supervision.
Yamhill County, Oregon, encompasses 718 square miles and is home to more than 102,000 residents (2015 U.S. Census Bureau). It is approximately 40 miles southwest of the heart of Portland. The county’s population is 90.9% white, 15.9% Hispanic or Latino, 2.0% American Indian or Alaskan native, and 1.1% black or African American (2015 U.S. Census Bureau). The median household income is $53,864 (2015 U.S. Census Bureau). Just over 15% of the population lives below the poverty level (2015 U.S. Census Bureau).
The Yamhill County Jail can house 259 inmates but most often operates well under capacity, with an average daily population typically under 200. Yamhill County Department of Community Justice supervises just over 1,000 adult offenders on misdemeanor and felony probation, and on post-prison supervision. The county also has a Day Management Center, where medium and high risk Community Justice clients receive employment support services.
Yamhill County has four circuit court judges who operate problem solving courts, including an adult drug court, a mental health court (Court Coordinated Services), a restitution court, and a family drug court (Women’s Recovery Court).
|Profile of Yamhill County’s Justice System||
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Prior to joining the EBDM initiative, Yamhill County benefitted from an active Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) composed of county leadership, justice system stakeholders, other county service agencies, and citizens. The multidisciplinary council and its associated policy team advise and make critical decisions on local public safety concerns. Another committee works in parallel to address concerns regarding the delivery of mental health and chemical dependency services, and to identify alternatives to incarceration for those suffering from mental illness.
Yamhill County’s interest in the EBDM initiative was fueled by their commitment to policy improvement through data-driven approaches and concerns about rapid population growth in the face of diminishing resources. County leadership identified EBDM as an opportunity to advance criminal justice policy and practice using a research-informed approach. In selecting Yamhill County to serve as an EBDM pilot site, NIC acknowledged the collaborative history among key stakeholders and their previous efforts to use data-driven management strategies to improve local justice system practices.
YAMHILL COUNTY’S EBDM VISION, MISSION, AND TEAM
The vision of the Yamhill County EBDM Policy Team is “a safer community where professionals work together utilizing data, research, and evidence-based practices in the criminal justice system.” Their mission speaks to the team’s steadfast commitment to harm reduction: “Yamhill County will experience enhanced public safety, a reduction in the number of victims, greater offender accountability, and a reduced threat of harm through the appropriate application of proven practices at all phases of the criminal justice process.” The team is comprised of:
- the presiding judge;
- a county commissioner;
- the district attorney;
- the sheriff;
- a defense attorney;
- a victim advocate;
- the director of Yamhill County Health and Human Services; and
- the director of community corrections.
YAMHILL COUNTY’S CHANGE TARGETS
The Yamhill County EBDM Policy Team, with assistance from their EBDM TA provider, started along the Phase II planning roadmap to assess the degree to which research evidence guided their decisions, and to identify strengths, challenges, and targets for future policy and practice. The team engaged in a comprehensive analysis and system mapping of the local justice system from arrest to discharge. As a result of this process, the team created work groups to focus on four areas: pretrial decision making, sentencing, correctional treatment programming, and policies and services for individuals with special needs. The policy team developed logic models and implementation strategies for each change target in Phase II; in Phase III, they put their implementation strategies in place. (For more information on these change targets, see Yamhill County’s Phase III implementation plan.) This case study offers a summary of Yamhill County’s work in two areas:
- implementation of an evidence-based pretrial justice system; and
- establishment of a “case analysis” process to inform sentencing decisions.
Yamhill County’s EBDM efforts have led to several significant developments:
- The county was accepted into the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative-Local (JRI) in 2011. The county’s participation in JRI has provided further support for the pretrial program. In July 2013, Oregon implemented their statewide Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which brought financial resources to Yamhill County to fund an automated data system and the hiring of two additional PSOs. The automated pretrial case management system, Pretrial Justice Information System (PJIS), went live in August 2016; it allows pretrial stakeholders remote access to real-time data about pretrial defendants and significant analytic and reporting features for purposes of continued performance measurement.
- Since the implementation of their pretrial program, Yamhill has received numerous requests from colleague counties for additional information. This resulted in the convening of a one-day “Pretrial Summit” in June 2016, which was attended by representatives from 15 counties, the state Criminal Justice Commission, and the State Judicial Department, and it has led to a statewide focus on pretrial reform through the governor’s Public Safety Task Force.
- Interest in Yamhill’s DAR process has led to its replication in nine additional Oregon counties.
Ramsey County, Minnesota, has a population of 538,133 (2015 U.S. Census Bureau). Its county seat is Saint Paul, which is also Minnesota’s state capital. Its racial makeup is 69.3% white, 11.9% black or African American, 14.4% Asian, and 7.4% Hispanic or Latino of any race (2015 U.S. Census Bureau). The median household income is $56,104, and 15.1% of the population lives at or below the poverty line (2015 U.S. Census Bureau).
Ramsey County has more than a dozen law enforcement agencies, including the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office (Minnesota’s first law enforcement agency) and Saint Paul Police Department. The Saint Paul Police Department, the county’s largest law enforcement agency, averages about 247,000 calls for service a year (City of Saint Paul Police Crime Report 2015). The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office runs the Adult Detention Center (ADC), a 500-bed facility that houses pretrial defendants and probation and parole violators. The sheriff’s office is also responsible for providing court services (court security, warrants, civil process, gun permits, and summons bookings), protecting the county’s waterways, and delivering community services. Ramsey County is a Community Corrections Act county; as such, the county is administratively responsible for providing misdemeanor and felony probation and parole supervision and correctional services. The community corrections department is responsible for operating the Ramsey County Correctional Facility, a 556-bed post-conviction institution, housing inmates serving sentences of one year or less.
The county attorney and the county sheriff are elected every four years, while judges are elected every six years. Appointed criminal justice leaders include the director of community corrections, the chief public defender, city attorneys, and city chiefs of police.
|Profile of Ramsey County’s Justice System||
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Ramsey County’s past experiences working on successful interagency initiatives, such as the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) and the St. Paul Blueprint for Safety, led to its selection as a pilot site.
RAMSEY COUNTY’S EBDM VISION, MISSION, AND TEAM
As an EBDM pilot site, Ramsey County’s criminal justice leaders agreed to work together to address broad systemic policy issues. The Ramsey County EBDM Policy Team included the following stakeholders:
- the county sheriff;
- the county attorney;
- a county commissioner;
- the chief judge of the Second Judicial District Court;
- the county community corrections director;
- the chief of the Saint Paul Police Department;
- the chief public defender of the Second Judicial District Court;
- the city attorney for the City of Saint Paul;
- the county pretrial services executive director;
- the county chief deputy sheriff;
- the first assistant county attorney;
- a deputy city attorney for the City of Saint Paul;
- the executive director of the state Office of Justice Programs; and
- representatives from victim services organizations.
Ramsey County’s vision for the EBDM initiative is: “One less crime. One less victim. One less offender. A strategy for safer communities.”
RAMSEY COUNTY’S CHANGE TARGETS
“The policy review, system mapping, and data analysis exercises required as part of this initiative were valuable. Each exercise served to foster teamwork and collaboration. Through these assessments, we were able to identify areas for improvement and establish performance metrics to ensure outcomes were consistent with community values.”
–Kyle Mestad, Director of Planning & Policy, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
As the Ramsey County Policy Team worked through the EBDM Phase II planning roadmap, they assessed their policies and practices at each of the EBDM decision points through a systemwide mapping exercise and considered the degree to which their decisions were informed by research. The result was the identification of a number of strengths, challenges, and targets for policy and practice change. The team created work groups to focus on three substantive areas: arrest and law enforcement, pretrial diversion, and pleas and sentencing. The individual work groups developed logic models and implementation plans, and advanced recommendations for policy and practice change to the EBDM policy team. Two of the efforts prioritized by the policy team in support of achieving their harm reduction goals are the focus of this case study:
- expanding eligibility for a misdemeanor diversion program; and
- developing structured responses to pretrial violations.
“The principles established during our EBDM journey created an ongoing mutual commitment to continuously improve our justice system. Specifically, we founded the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) and harnessed the momentum created through EBDM. As a result, we are continuing to improve our short-term and long-term criminal justice outcomes.”
–Matt Bostrom, Ramsey County Sheriff and First Chair of the CJCC
Through the EBDM process, members of the Ramsey County Policy Team recognized the importance of meeting regularly to discuss criminal justice system issues and practices. They also agreed to the importance of information and data to support problem solving and effective decision making. Using the EBDM policy team as a foundation, the county’s criminal justice leaders formed a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC); its membership includes multidisciplinary leadership from across the justice system. It serves as a permanent decision making body officially sanctioned by the Board of Commissioners and the Second Judicial District. The CJCC meets regularly. In 2015, priorities for the CJCC included reducing the number of active warrants in the county (including holding a Warrant Resolution Day), enhancing performance measures, improving data integration across the county’s justice agencies, and improving communication and community engagement.