Data Analysis Interagency Collaboration Jail Populations May 8, 2020
Improving the criminal justice system is about changing behavior—but not just changing the behavior of offenders through discrete interventions proven to reduce an individual’s likelihood of committing crime, which is often the focus. No intervention program exists in isolation, no agency operates alone, and relevant political, social, and financial forces are constantly shifting. To be truly effective, most interventions need to take place within a framework that supports ongoing excellence, even under varying circumstances.
System actors must be willing to examine their own behavior and the behavior of their organizations in order to do business in a new way. To this end, we wrote Ten Steps to System Change, a brief for leaders in criminal justice systems who are committed to a systemic approach to change and ready to take a critical look at their own practices.
With the broad goal of reducing over-incarceration and changing the way America thinks about and uses jails, the Safety and Justice Challenge requires participating jurisdictions to do just what the brief suggests—examine practices, policies, and data throughout the system with a deep dive at each decision point to assess performance and results. To be successful, jurisdictions need to be informed by the research, but also take steps to innovation.
Justice System Partners (JSP) is proud to be a partner on this important, groundbreaking initiative. “Follow the evidence—change the system” is JSP’s approach to technical assistance, both in support of the Safety and Justice Challenge and in all of the work we do. Fortunately, the staff at JSP have decades of experience with local system change—both as practitioners in local agencies, and as technical assistance providers in multi-jurisdictional initiatives such as the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice Reinvestment and Smart Pretrial initiatives, and the development of the now widely used Integrated Model for Evidence-based Practices in Community Corrections with the National Institute of Corrections. This combined experience has allowed us to distill key strategies for measurable change. Ten Steps to System Change is a quick reference guide to those strategies and a worthwhile read for local leaders.
Changing systems is hard work, and it’s a long-term commitment. However, the only way to realize the desired results—less repeat offending, fewer victims, increased public safety, better use of taxpayer dollars—is to look in the mirror and examine what we see.