Project

Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) at the Local Level

Overview

Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) at the Local Level provided technical assistance and financial support to counties and/or cities engaged in justice reinvestment. The goal of this data-driven approach was to reduce corrections’ and related justice system costs and reinvest savings in strategies designed to increase community well-being and safety. Under this initiative, CEPP delivered technical assistance to eight local JRI jurisdictions as part of a two-phase effort. 

Our Approach

CEPP, with support from the Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, partnered with Applied Research Services (ARS) to provide intensive technical and data assistance to eight local JRI sites (Grant County (IN), Charlotte/Mecklenburg (NC), Delaware County (OH), Yamhill County (OR), Travis County (TX), Charlottesville (VA), Eau Claire County (WI), and Milwaukee County (WI)) over a five-year period. 

In Phase I, sites received technical assistance to help engage leaders and key stakeholders, analyze justice system data, and identify strategies to reduce costs and increase community well-being and safety. Phase II sites received both targeted technical assistance and funding to support the implementation of justice reinvestment strategies.

Central to the JRI approach at the local level is the use of data and information to:

 Understand the current operations of the justice system, including the drivers of cost and population

  • Analyze various policy change options and their potential impact on cost, population, and community well-being and safety
  • Strengthen implementation efforts designed to improve the justice system and its outcomes
  • Measure the performance of implementation strategy efforts, enabling readjustment and improvement over time

CEPP and ARS provided each site with intensive technical assistance, guiding them through the process of understanding the significant cost and population drivers in their local systems, and coaching sites through measuring the impact of their selected changes and developing a plan to reinvest the savings in strategies designed to increase community well-being and public safety.

The Impact

All sites designed initiatives to address jail drivers and gathered data to assess impact.  

  • In Grant County, pretrial detainees and probation violators were major drivers. A caseload reallocation and sanctions grid reduced the active probation population by 23% and jail bookings by 17%. 
  • Charlotte/Mecklenburg County identified their drivers as arrests of returning citizens, people driving without a license, and people with mental illness, as well as “citizen-initiated” warrants. They implemented a reentry program, a citizen’s warrant court docket, a driver’s license restoration clinic, and Crisis Intervention Team training. 
  • Delaware County found that people jailed for DUI offenses, as well as slow court processing, were major drivers. They created a DUI Court in response. 
  • In Yamhill County, pretrial detainees, particularly those jailed for failure to appear, and probation violators were significant jail drivers. An automated pretrial case management system was implemented.
  • Travis County launched a housing and supportive services pilot project in response to the number of jail bookings involving people with mental illness who were experiencing chronic homelessness. This led to lower recidivism among those housed. 
  • In Charlottesville, probation cases were the largest driver of jail resources, and violators received longer jail sentences. A probation behavior response system and probation management tool were implemented in response. 
  • Eau Claire County learned that pretrial detainees and those jailed for DUI were significant drivers. They implemented a pretrial release program for low/medium risk defendants held in jail on a cash bond, as well as a DUI program for repeat misdemeanors. DUI offenders accounted for 23% of jail bed days before launch and only 10% five years later.  
  • Milwaukee County developed a very successful and comprehensive “Early Intervention (EI) Strategy” to provide services to pretrial detainees and to reduce pretrial detention rates.