White House Launches New Data-Driven Justice Initiative

The White House has launched a new initiative that requires participating jurisdictions to use data to reduce their jail populations.

The initiative strives to divert low-risk and mentally ill individuals that do not need to be incarcerated out of the criminal justice system and into community support.

As announced by the Office of the Press Secretary:

On any given day, across the country more than 450,000 people are held in jail before trial, nearly 63 percent of the local jail population, even though they have not been convicted of a crime. A 2014 study of New York’s Riker’s Island jail found more than 86 percent of detained individuals were held on a bond of $500 or less. To tackle the challenges of bail, in 2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina began using a data-based risk assessment tool to identify low-risk people in jail and find ways to release them safely. Since Charlotte-Mecklenburg began using the tool, significantly more low-risk individuals have been released from jail, the total county jail population has dropped by 40 percent, and there has been no increase in reported crime.

To break the cycle of incarceration, the Administration is launching the Data-Driven Justice Initiative (DDJ) with a bipartisan coalition of 67 city, county, and state governments who have committed to using data-driven strategies to divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and change approaches to pre-trial incarceration, so that low-risk offenders no longer stay in jail simply because they cannot afford a bond. These innovative strategies, which have measurably reduced jail populations in several communities, help stabilize individuals and families, better serve communities, and often save money in the process.

Maryland is one of the 67 states, cities, and counties who have committed to joining the DDJ Initiative.

The fact sheet notes that DDJ communities will use data to identify and proactively break the cycle of incarceration; equip law enforcement and first responders with the tools they need to respond and divert; and use data-driven, validated, pre-trial risk assessment tools to inform pre-trial release decisions.

The Administration will support these communities by leveraging a community resources tool-kit; improving outcomes for Veterans through mental health services; and addressing individual needs through evidence-based interventions.

A related article on Route Fifty provides examples from jurisdictions that have used data-driven initiatives to reduce their jail populations:

Jarrett cited Charlotte-Mecklenburg County in North Carolina as a success story of reducing jail populations while connecting inmates to services and saving money. In 2014, the jurisdiction started a pre-trial release program for those deemed not a risk to the community—witnessing a 40 percent drop in the jail population and no increase in reported crimes.

Often, inmates are now diverted to community-based care in Salt Lake County. And DDJ aims to bolster such efforts by recruiting major tech companies like Amazon and Palantir to the cause.

In some cases, partners will co-build tools, platforms, approaches and services with the jurisdictions themselves. RapidSOS, with its mobile-enabled 911 helping law enforcement more quickly locate callers, is offering its service to five participating communities for up to 10 years. Nonprofit RTI International created an open-source, calls for service tool that can track mental health hotspots over time to improve intervention.

That article notes that the White House hopes to have 100 jurisdictions on board with the initiative before the end of the year.

For more information read the fact sheet on the White House’s Data-Driven Justice Initiative and  article on Route Fifty.

Attend MACo’s Summer Conference to learn more about this initiative:

Data-Driven Justice: Using Data to Lead to Better Outcomes in Criminal Justice

Description: Earlier this summer, Governor Larry Hogan led Maryland in signing on to the White House Data-Driven Justice Initiative, a bipartisan coalition of sixty-seven city, county, and state governments who have committed to using data-driven strategies to divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system. These innovative strategies, which have measurably reduced jail populations in several communities, help stabilize individuals and families, better serve communities, and often save money in the process. Come learn how your jurisdiction can join the effort.

Speakers:

  • V. Glenn Fueston, Jr, Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention
  • Sam Malhotra, Secretary, Department of Human Resources
  • Robert Green, Director, Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation

Moderator: The Honorable Jan Gardner, County Executive, Frederick County

Date/Time: Thursday, August 18, 2016; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

 

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