Pretrial Justice Projects

Sponsors: Arnold Ventures

With support from Arnold Ventures, the Center is leading the Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research (APPR) initiative, a collaboration of more than a dozen organizations and individuals with diverse expertise in justice system improvement, collaborative policy development, research, implementation science, communication, professional education and leadership, and the use of cutting-edge technologies. Over a five-year period, APPR will support knowledge development, skill training, research, and implementation assistance to jurisdictions throughout the nation interested in enhancing their pretrial practices. The APPR team will: provide direct, onsite assistance; offsite and remote support; conduct presentations at national professional convenings; and develop and disseminate resources that will support communities throughout the country to advance fair, just, and effective pretrial outcomes that simultaneously prioritize public safety, equity, and harm reduction.

Sponsors: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance

The Encouraging Innovation: Field-Initiated (Fl) Program is funded under the Edward Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program and a carve out from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program that is aimed at combating extraordinary or precipitous increases in crime. The FI Program furthers the Department’s mission by trying new approaches, addressing gaps in responses, building or translating research knowledge, or building capacity to address the issues that bring fresh perspectives and ideas to enhance practices and prevent crime in the field.

The Center for Effective Public Policy, in partnership with the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA), will utilize grant funds to develop a national “Diversion Repository.” The Repository will serve as a “one stop shop” for information about diversionary options, national practices, existing resources and new resources developed through this project. The goals of the project include (I) developing and field-testing new diversion resources to fill the gap between those currently available and those that are needed to guide future diversionary efforts; (2) building an online “Diversion Repository” to efficiently disseminate information on evidence-based diversion, including both existing and newly developed resources; and (3) conducting awareness building, discipline-specific, diversion-focused workshops at national conferences.

Sponsors: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance through a subcontract with the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies

A Center staff member will participate in the planning and execution of a Diversion Symposium for the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies.  This will include identifying organizations to participate, assisting with finalizing the Diversion Symposium goals and objectives, aiding with Symposium logistics, helping to develop the final agenda, serving as faculty during the event, assisting with developing the Diversion Symposium curriculum and selecting faculty, and developing and writing a White Paper to inform the diversion field of the major issues and points Diversion Symposium and describe next steps to advance pretrial diversion as an evidence-based decision point.

Sponsors: National Institute of Corrections

Since 2008, the Center has engaged in a multi-phase, multi-year project to establish and test the application of research findings to key decisions across the justice system in an effort to achieve measurable reductions in pretrial misconduct and post-conviction risk of re-offending. The initiative is now beginning its seventh phase.

Phase I: During Phase I, the Center—along with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and the Center’s collaborative partners, The Pretrial Justice Institute, the Justice Management Institute, and The Carey Group—authored the EBDM initiative’s central document: A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in State and Local Criminal Justice Systems (“the Framework”). The Framework was built upon a variety of inputs, including an extensive literature review; a series of substantive discussions among the project team members and NIC (“the project team”), as well as an active, multidisciplinary Advisory Committee; a national public opinion survey designed and administered by the project team; a series of focus group discussions with policymakers and practitioners; and a series of meetings with a group of non-criminal justice, evidence-based management experts (the “Innovators Group”).

During Phase I, the project team also drafted a communications strategy, with the tagline: “One Less _____. A Strategy for Safer Communities.” The campaign was designed to convey the message that every individual can contribute to safer communities. Other Phase I activities included the development of selection criteria and a solicitation request for “seed sites” for Phase II of the initiative, as well as a process and outcome evaluation plan that served as the basis of a solicitation to competitively select an evaluator to assess the impacts and outcomes of Phases II and III.

Phase II: During Phase II, seven jurisdictions from across the country were competitively selected to implement the EBDM Framework: Mesa County, Colorado; Grant County, Indiana; Ramsey County, Minnesota; Yamhill County, Oregon; City of Charlottesville/County of Albemarle, Virginia; Eau Claire County, Wisconsin; and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. The Center and the project team provided technical assistance to guide the sites through a series of steps in preparation for implementation. “Roadmap steps” included assessing current policies and practices, determining methods to more effectively integrate research at key decision points, and developing work plans for the implementation of EBDM, among others.

Phase III: During Phase III, the Center and the project team provided support to EBDM sites in the successful implementation of critical change strategies, development of communication strategies, and measurement of data to track progress toward meeting systemwide goals. Examples of change strategies implemented in the local sites include:

  • employing and validating local pretrial risk assessment tools;
  • implementing universal screening of pretrial defendants;
  • adding or redesigning diversionary policies and practices and basing selection for diversion on risk reduction research and outcome-driven decisions;
  • aligning interventions with individuals based upon their level of risk and criminogenic needs;
  • implementing evidence-based approaches to specific offender populations (e.g., domestic violence, female offenders) throughout the criminal justice process; and
  • implementing decision making guidelines to respond to violations of pretrial and post-sentence release conditions.

Prior to launching Phase IV of the EBDM Initiative, the Center partnered with NIC to pilot test a protocol to expand the EBDM effort in the seven selected sites to a broader group of criminal justice system stakeholders. The Center developed the protocol for engaging state level teams in the process of applying EBDM to decision points at the state level, and pilot tested it through the conduct of a statewide summit on EBDM in the State of Wisconsin.

Phase IV: Starting in 2013, the initiative shifted its focus to replicating the EBDM Framework on a statewide level in order to demonstrate the value of its expansion beyond single, local jurisdictions. The Center and project staff worked closely with planning teams in five states—Colorado, Indiana, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin—to consider whether and how to expand their EBDM efforts beyond the original local teams to include additional local jurisdictions and state-level teams. Planning teams in these states conducted exploratory analyses of their policies, practices, and data capacity; took steps to gauge the level of interest in and understanding of EBDM across their state; and conducted EBDM awareness-building activities. As a result of these activities, each state identified the most strategic alignment of state and local partners to support the advancement of EBDM within their state.

Phase V: In November 2014, Indiana, Virginia, and Wisconsin were selected, on a competitive basis, to work in partnership with NIC on Phase V of the initiative. The goal of Phase V was to advance criminal justice system outcomes throughout communities in the selected states. As in the previous phases, these jurisdictions received technical assistance from the Center and the project team to conduct a series of planning activities, with the goal of implementing systemwide change strategies to align local and state jurisdictions with one another and with the principles of EBDM.

The following 21 teams participated in Phase V of the EBDM initiative:

  • Indiana: State EBDM policy team, Bartholomew County, Hamilton County, Hendricks County, Jefferson County, Porter County, Tipton County.
  • Virginia: State EBDM policy team, Chesterfield/Colonial Heights, Norfolk, Petersburg, Prince William County/Manassas/Manassas Park, Richmond, Staunton/Augusta County/Waynesboro.
  • Wisconsin: State EBDM policy team, Chippewa County, La Crosse County, Marathon County, Outagamie County, Rock County, Waukesha County.

Phase VI: In September 2016, the Center received an award to continue to provide support to each of the three Phase V states as they moved to Phase VI and implemented their action plans in accordance with the Phase VI Roadmap. In Indiana, the technical assistance provided included a special focus on developing a high functioning pretrial justice system at the state and local levels.

Phase VII: In Phase VII, launched in 2018 the Center received an award to continue to provide assistance to the established Indiana and Wisconsin EBDM state and local policy teams to support and expand their EBDM efforts, including assistance to develop implementation strategies that will allow for sustainability and “scaling up.” The initiative will develop and publish a model (the “Scaling Up Monograph”) for bringing this and other similar efforts to scale, thereby providing resources to a national audience. The Center will also provide technical assistance to the state policy teams to implement their scaling up plans to additional counties in their respective states, and prepare for and conduct a national conference presentation on the sustainability and scaling efforts of NIC’s EBDM state and local teams.


In addition to the achievements described above under the various phases of the EBDM initiative, over the course of the initiative the Center developed a library of publications that support replication of EBDM in jurisdictions across the country. These products include:

  • the 4th Edition of the EBDM Framework;
  • the Evidence-Based Decision Making (EBDM) Primer;
  • the Starter Kit, which provides guidance to jurisdictions that seek to implement justice practices that are based on evidence-based decisions. The Starter Kit is intended to assist local, collaborative criminal justice teams in building their capacity to engage in EBDM by providing a roadmap to, and the critical planning steps necessary for, successful implementation of EBDM;
  • a curriculum on evidence-based decision making and the EBDM initiative;
  • a series of case studies on each of the seven EBDM sites highlighting their key activities and lessons learned;
  • a set of discipline-specific user guides; and
  • a set of discipline-specific overview of the EBDM initiative highlighting the benefits and challenges of participating in an EBDM effort, including an overview for Victim Service Providers.

A full list of publications under the EBDM initiative can be found here.

Sponsors: Starke County Criminal Justice Planning Board

Center staff led a team that collected information on and assess the extent to which current pretrial and sentencing options align with evidence-based practices. The Center explored the interests of Starke County stakeholders in pursuing Evidence Based Decision Making (EBDM) strategies for addressing harm reduction goals. To this end, the Center and partners conducted an analysis of the trends in jail, probation and community corrections populations; including exploration of the charge types and risk/needs’ characteristics of defendant and offender populations. The team prepared written recommendations for promising strategies to improve the array and effectiveness of sentencing options and action steps to initiate an EBDM approach; and conducted onsite visits to collect information, reviewed the draft recommendations, and conducted a half-day, strategic planning session with Starke County stakeholders to develop initial change goals or targets and action steps.

Sponsors: Luminosity, Inc.

Under this project, pretrial services agencies in Virginia engaged in identifying, testing, and implementing Pretrial Legal and Evidence-Based Practices (LEBP). Pretrial LEBP are interventions and practices that are consistent with the legal and constitutional rights afforded to accused persons awaiting trial and methods research have proven to be effective in reducing unnecessary detention while assuring court appearance and the safety of the community during the pretrial stage. The Center assisted Luminosity, Inc., in a project designed to test the use of release recommendation and supervision guidelines and evidence-based supervision techniques. The research study examined the effect of these guidelines on judicial decision making and release rates, as well as their effect on pretrial outcomes (court appearance and community safety rates, and release conditions compliance). The Center’s role was to provide assistance to pretrial services staff and their local external stakeholders around the implementation of these strategies.

Sponsors: Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office

Through this project, the Center provided facilitation for a meeting of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Council as it explored measures to address the conditions leading to jail overcrowding.

Sponsors: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections

This project provided intensive technical assistance to teams of criminal justice policy officials, corrections and human service managers, and community members from three local jurisdictions to assist in the development and implementation of policies and practices designed to increase the likelihood of successful completion of community supervision for women who are pretrial defendants and sentenced offenders. The project integrated research and practice from diverse areas, including women’s pathways to crime, gender responsive supervision and intervention strategies, offender risk and needs assessment, system analysis, and policy development. Technical assistance activities included a training seminar for policy team members from each selected site, the provision of monthly site coordination and technical guidance, and documentation of project accomplishments. The project received supplemental awards to continue the provision of intensive technical assistance to participating sites, and ultimately produced a series of articles that captured the learnings from these and earlier project sites.

Sponsors: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections

This project was designed to provide selected jurisdictions with technical assistance in order to allow each of them to develop outcome-based decision making and policy statements that will be implemented for the pretrial phase of their criminal justice system. The project offered selected jurisdictions an opportunity to develop an analytic, system-based approach to understanding the operation of their criminal justice system, beginning with the agencies and decision makers who participate in the pretrial portion of that system. The project drew on the lessons of a number of earlier efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections that demonstrated the critical role of the development of clear system policy to an accountable, public safety minded, and effective criminal justice system. The project operated from the assumption that decisions made at the pretrial stage, from arrest through adjudication, are critical to the entire criminal justice system, the offender, and to the community.

Sponsors: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections

This initiative was designed to assist state and local policymakers in eight jurisdictions to develop and implement more purposeful, cost effective, and coordinated policies on the design, use, capacity, and cost of their system of correctional options for pretrial and sentenced offenders. The criminal justice system assessment, a primary component of the project, was a systemic information gathering process that participating jurisdictions used to comprehensively assess their criminal justice systems. The final stages of the project focused on the completion of a handbook to guide criminal justice system planning. The handbook (Getting it Right: Collaborative Problem Solving for Criminal Justice) provides a framework for envisioning a desired future for the criminal justice system, assessing current policies and practices, and planning and implementing strategies to achieve the desired future.

Sponsor: Cuyahoga County Commission

The Center was engaged to work with the Justice Management Institute to complete an assessment of the data and information assembled by the County, the Corrections Board, and the Common Pleas Court and to assist the Board in completing a comprehensive plan.

Sponsors: Stark County Criminal Justice Planning Board

The Center was contracted to work with the local criminal justice planning board in Stark County, Ohio, to assist the County in developing an understanding of their offender population, their use of sanctions to respond to that population, and the potential for identifying target populations for diversion from the state prison system. Over a six-month period, the Center, working closely with Justice Research Associates, conducted a detailed pipeline study of the misdemeanor and felony offender populations, as well as a snapshot of the jail population. Project staff were able to describe in detail patterns of disposition that emerged from the data analysis, describe the characteristics (offense, criminal history, history of violence, and personal characteristics) of the offender population, and identify target populations for potential diversion.

Sponsors: Joint Community Corrections Act Planning Board of Eastern Ohio

The Joint Community Corrections Act Planning Board of Eastern Ohio, representing six counties, contracted with the Center to conduct a comprehensive criminal justice system assessment in each of these six Ohio counties. Over a four-month period, Center staff, in collaboration with Justice Research Associates, assisted in the formation of local policy teams, and conducted an on-site system assessment over the course of several site visits. From these visits, project staff: developed criminal justice system flowcharts; diagramed each county’s continuum of sanctions; collected and described the profiles of the local offender population; collected arrest and crime data; and conducted a community resource inventory. A full-day workshop with policymakers from all six counties was conducted to review in detail the analyses of data collected, and assist local policy teams as they made judgments about their current sanctioning system. A community meeting was designed and facilitated by Center staff at the request of one of the counties. The project culminated with a final assessment report.

Sponsors: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

The National Jail and Prison Overcrowding Project was created to assist states in managing the flow of offenders through their criminal justice systems in order to alleviate institutional crowding and to prevent future crowding. The National Project provided assistance to participating states in developing policies appropriate to the particular economic, political, and cultural environment within each. Center staff worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to devise the criteria, review the proposals, conduct on-site assessments, and select the states that would participate in the project. The focus of the project’s work was the policy group in each state, composed of key policymakers representing the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government, as well as ranking officials from corrections agencies, local law enforcement, prosecution, and local government. Center staff worked with state staff and the policy group to produce the information needed to analyze the source of population pressures, select appropriate policy options, and implement and monitor the options chosen. In addition, Center staff provided a range of direct services to the state projects, including facilitation assistance and training.
The project was conducted in two parts: four states participated between 1982 and 1984; five states from 1984 to 1987. Center staff worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation to devise the criteria, review the proposals, conduct on-site assessments, and select the states that would participate in each phase of the project.

The focus of the project’s work was the policy group in each state, composed of key policymakers representing the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government, as well as ranking officials from corrections agencies, local law enforcement, prosecution, and local government. The project provided financial support to hire local staff in each site to support daily operations.

Staff from the Center worked with state project staff and the policy group to produce the information and data needed to identify and analyze the source of population pressures, select appropriate policy options, and implement and monitor the options chosen. In addition, Center staff provided a range of direct services to the state projects. Because of the value-laden as well as technical nature of the issues under consideration, national staff offered facilitation assistance and training to support consensus-building among policy group members as they moved toward policy adoption and implementation.