U.S. Department of Justice

Evidence-Based Decision Making

A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems

About this Initiative

In June 2008, NIC partnered with the Center for Effective Public Policy to build a systemwide framework (arrest through final disposition and discharge) that when implemented will result in more collaborative, evidence-based decision making and practices in local criminal justice systems.

The purpose of this initiative is to equip criminal justice policymakers in local communities with the information, processes, and tools that will result in measurable reductions of pretrial misconduct and post-conviction reoffending. The initiative is grounded in two decades of research on the factors that contribute to criminal reoffending and the methods the justice system can employ to interrupt the cycle of reoffense.

Project Phases

Phase I culminated in the development of the framework outlined in A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems ("the Framework"). The Framework describes key criminal justice decision points and evidence-based knowledge about effective justice practices. It defines risk and harm reduction as key goals of the criminal justice system and begins to lay out practical local level strategies for applying these principles and techniques. (See Framework under "Read the Report" section.)

In the second phase of this initiative, NIC – and its collaborating partner the Office of Justice Programs(OJP) – selected seven seed sites that were interested in and well positioned to pilot the Framework. These sites are:

  • Grant County, Indiana
  • Mesa County, Colorado
  • Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
  • Ramsey County, Minnesota
  • Eau Claire County, Wisconsin
  • Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Yamhill County, Oregon

Fifty key representatives from the selected seed site teams attended a 2-day initiative kickoff workshop October 5th and 6th 2010 in Bethesda, Maryland. The purpose of the workshop was to lay the groundwork for the sites’ work; establish clear expectations for Phase II; provide opportunities for intensive, foundational team work and establish a working network among the selected sites as well as between those from the same discipline (i.e., prosecutors, judges, etc.).

While no direct funding was provided to jurisdictions selected to participate in the initiative, seed sites received the benefit of technical assistance from a team of providers with expertise in evidence-based decision making, management, and operations in all facets of the criminal justice system (i.e., NIC, OJP, and its consortium of providers and others as may be needed).

Seed sites participated in an initiative evaluation, administered by The Urban Institute, and designed to document and evaluate the effectiveness of the TA delivery methods and assess each site’s readiness to implement the full framework in Phase III.

The National Institute of Corrections is pleased to announce that it will continue its technical assistance support to all seven “seed site” jurisdictions in the implementation phase of the Evidence Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems (EBDM) Initiative (Phase III, 18 months). The decision to proceed with all seven sites is the result of the leadership commitment and the impressive change strategies proposed by the sites in their Phase III implementation plans (the results of the 10-month Phase II planning efforts).

NIC will provide a tiered approach to the technical assistance support. Three jurisdictions will receive a higher level of technical assistance as Tier I sites: Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, Mesa County, Colorado, and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Assistance to the other four sites, while more limited, also will focus on the successful implementation of critical change strategies. All sites will receive coaching assistance from a technical assistance provider and specific technical expertise in critical content areas; all will continue to participate in collaborative learning opportunities, through workshops and web-based communications.

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Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
Document 025172
Measuring What Matters: Outcome and Performance Measures for the Pretrial Services Field
National Institute of Corrections. Pretrial Executives Network (Washington, DC).
“This monograph presents recommended outcome and performance measures and mission-critical data … [that] will enable pretrial service agencies to gauge more accurately their programs’ effectiveness in meeting agency and justice system goals” (p. v). Sections of this publication include introduction, outcome measures, performance measures, mission-critical data, setting targets, and examples of pretrial release program measures.... Read More
24 pages
Document 024372
A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Center for Effective Public Policy (Silver Spring, MD); Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) (Washington, DC); Justice Management Institute (JMI) (Denver, CO); The Carey Group (Viera, FL).
This report is essential reading for individuals wanting to achieve "measurable reductions of pretrial misconduct and post-conviction reoffending" (p.6). Eight sections follow an introduction (a new paradigm for the justice system): underlying premises; the key decision points, decision makers, and stakeholders in the criminal justice system; examining justice system decision making through the lens of harm reduction; the principles underlying the framework; applying evidence-based principles to... Read More
68 p.
Document 025475
Return on Investment: Evidence-Based Options to Improve Statewide Outcomes--July 2011 Update
By Aos, Steve; Lee, Stephanie; Drake, Elizabeth; Pennucci, Annie; Klima, Tali; Miller, Marna; Anderson, Laurie; Mayfield, Jim; Burley, Mason. Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Olympia, WA).
An overview is presented of findings (as of July 2011) regarding “a comprehensive list of programs and policies that improve … outcomes for children and adults in Washington and result in more cost-efficient use of public resources” (p. 1). Sections comprising this report are: summary; background; the four-step research approach that assesses what works, calculates costs and benefits and ranks options, measures the risks associated with the analysis, and estimates the impact of various option co... Read More
8 pages
Document 028469
Toward Evidence-Based Decision Making in Community Corrections: Research and Strategies for Successful Implementation
By Haas, Stephen M., editor. Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA) (Washington, DC).
This publication "contains invited articles on community corrections, with special emphasis on successful implementation strategies. A common thread that runs through these articles relates to what is needed to better ensure fidelity to evidence-based practices in community supervision and treatment. The research and implementation strategies shared by the authors should provide greater guidance to agency and program administrators working to assimilate evidence-based practices into their organi... Read More

17 pages

Available Training Opportunities

  • Available Online - Evidence-Based Practices for Supervisors
    This e-course is intended for first-line supervisors responsible for either line staff or line officers whose daily responsibilities require direct interaction with offenders and whose agencies have made a commitment to implement evidence-based practices. However, other position levels may find value in this e-course.
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