At the Center for Justice Innovation, we are committed to bridging the worlds of research and practice and spreading programs that have been determined to be effective.
This includes spreading evidence-based practices that have been documented by rigorous evaluation to have a positive impact.
When implemented with care, evidence-based practices are likely to make a difference, reducing crime and incarceration. No matter how strong the research supporting a particular intervention, success is dependent on the quality and consistency of implementation. The use of evidence-based practices should be guided by modesty, an appreciation of local factors, and a healthy dose of skepticism. There are no magic solutions to complicated problems. This balance of rigorous study and a strong connection to on-the-ground practice is at the core of the Center’s research-practice approach.
Rethinking Rikers Island
By providing support to the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, we're aiding in the effort to reduce New York City’s jail population and close Rikers Island.
In 2019, the Center for Court Innovation received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to assist five states in the development and implementation of statewide strategic plans for their Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC). The selected states were California, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Each state participated in a needs assessment process that included a document analysis and stakeholder interviews.
This study examines 16 programs seeking to divert cases out of the criminal justice system finding significant reductions in the probability of a conviction, jail sentence, and future re-arrest, along with sizable savings in costs and resources.
Community safety is multidimensional. Yet efforts to build community safety outside of the criminal legal system are often evaluated only using data generated by that same system. This means effective strategies of crime and violence prevention can be overlooked by policymakers and funders. We make an urgent case for a new paradigm.
Center executive director Courtney Bryan joined CBS News to talk about the growing backlog of court cases since the onset of COVID-19 is slowing the progress of hundreds of thousands of cases and people across the country.
"These are not just cases or case files. These are people. Most who are sitting in jails around the country haven't yet been convicted of a crime. Because of this crisis, [they’re waiting] for much longer than they were prior to COVID. And in New York City, that means folks are sitting in Rikers Island, a place renowned for violence and horrible conditions."
She also shared outcomes from a 2019 pilot program by the Center and New York Office of Court Administration that succeeded in reducing felony case backlogs in Brooklyn Superior Court.
Philadelphia is one of five major cities receiving national funding to study the factors driving youth gun violence. The research model involves hiring people with lived experience to ask questions in their own neighborhoods. Our Elise White and Basaime Spate, who are leading the study, share how having credible people ask the questions will improve turnout and the quality of responses. "The folks who live the experience also end up controlling the data at the end, so they control the narrative. And that’s an extremely important thing when you look at the way that gun violence gets talked about,” says Dr. White, research director.
Eric Lach for the New Yorker spends time in the courtroom at arraignment to understand some of the factors fueling the current crisis on Rikers Island. The article cites our research that identified a 2020 spike in judges setting bail and explores the alternatives that judges have to bail--like someone being released on their own recognizance or supervised release.