Criminal justice systems across the country are coming to realize that in order to be most effective, they must rely on practices that are grounded in evidence-based research about the factors that contribute to criminal reoffending and the methods the justice system can employ to interrupt the cycle of reoffense.
Research has documented with convincing evidence a number of clear differences between male and female offenders, including notable distinctions in offending patterns, rates of victimization and abuse, presence of mental illness, rates of substance abuse, and poverty and economic marginalization. As a result, there exists a significant need to enhance the knowledge base of practitioners and policymakers working with women in the criminal justice system regarding gender-responsive and evidence-based principles with justice involved women.
The impact sexual victimization can have on victims and families, the fear these crimes generate in members of the public, and the unique risks and needs posed by sex offenders have led to more concerted efforts to develop specialized and research-supported interventions to most effectively manage known offenders in an effort to prevent additional sexual victimization.
Parole and probation agencies play a critical role in the release of offenders from our nation’s jails and prisons, in the successful transition of those offenders to the community, and in helping to promote offender success in the community. These boards and agencies make substantial decisions on a daily basis about issues including, but not limited to: assessing offenders for release, setting terms and conditions of release, effectively supervising this population of offenders, and responding appropriately to violations. Given the incredible array of challenges facing parole and probation agencies, there is a clear need for training and policy development support for these agencies, who are working to manage a rapidly increasing population of offenders serving their sentences in the community.
Even as offenders transition to the community, a significant proportion of them return from the community to prison in fairly short order for new crimes or for violations of parole. As a result, in recent years, the correctional community has begun to focus on the challenge of helping a growing number of offenders make a safe transition from prison to the community.
Criminal justice practitioners increasingly appreciate the need for collaboration in addressing problems that cross traditional boundaries of organizations and levels of government, and reach into the private sector and the community.
Justice reinvestment is defined as a data-driven approach to reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest savings in strategies designed to increase public safety. The purpose of justice reinvestment is to manage and allocate criminal justice populations more cost effectively, generating savings that can be reinvested in evidence-based strategies that increase public safety while holding offenders accountable. States and localities engaging in justice reinvestment collect and analyze data on drivers of criminal justice populations and costs, identify and implement changes to increase efficiencies, and measure both the fiscal and public safety impacts of those changes (from Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2011).
For more than 25 years, the Center has assisted justice systems in every state, as well as hundreds of counties, regions, U.S. territories, and tribal communities, to mobilize for informed change through a wide range of strategic planning, assessment, and implementation services.
In addition to longstanding experience in the other categories identified, the Center has worked extensively on a variety of other criminal justice issues, including, but not limited to: court innovations, jail and prison overcrowding, violence against women, the use of intermediate sanctions, criminal justice system assessment and planning, and a host of other specialized criminal and juvenile justice topics.