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The Importance of Information Sharing for Justice Reform

"Policymakers at all levels of government in the United States are increasingly turning toward alternatives to incarceration and pretrial detention. The aim is to decrease the cost of the criminal justice system, while reducing recidivism and improving outcomes for people accused of and convicted of criminal behavior. There is great promise in “justice reinvestment”: that society can save money and improve public safety by detaining and incarcerating fewer people and redirecting a portion of the savings to more effective supervised treatment, training, and other programming in the community. Fulfilling this promise, though, requires that those who make policy for, and allocate funding to, justice reform initiatives recognize the importance of making timely, accurate information available to the front-line practitioners-probation and parole officers, treatment providers and healthcare professionals, and the organizations providing services and programs to people under supervision. Without this flow of information, justice reform will likely fall far short of policymakers’ and citizens’ expectations, and may in the end neither reduce expenditures nor improve public safety" (p. 1). The following sections of this report explain how information sharing positively impacts justice reform by: making better decisions; ensuring accountability; providing efficient services; understanding an investing in what works; and by building on what exists. Each section also includes experiences from the field that support the information sharing initiatives.