The White House has announced the launch of a public-private initiative aimed at encouraging the use of data to reduce mass incarceration in the United States.
Through the Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative, a coalition of sixty-seven city, county, and state governments will work to adopt data-driven strategies aimed at diverting low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and then connect them with health and social services. DDJ also will work to equip law enforcement and first responders with protocols for de-escalating crisis situations and to reform pre-trial incarceration practices so that low-risk offenders don't remain in jail simply because they can't afford bond. The coalition includes the governments of Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah.
Private-sector support for the initiative will be focused on the areas of data, diversion and coordinated services, research on what works, and ongoing support and collaboration. Partners include the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which will join a Technology and Research Consortium convened by Amazon Web Services to help DDJ communities share and analyze data related to frequently incarcerated citizens, identify opportunities for early intervention, and assess program effectiveness. LJAF also will support pilot projects led by the Corporation for Supportive Housing to integrate housing, homelessness, and criminal justice data in support of strategic placement decisions with respect to individuals with multiple arrests.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which is supporting several DDJ projects aimed at reducing over-incarceration in jails through its $75 million Safety and Justice Challenge, will collaborate with communities and nonprofit participants to enable learning, accelerate the adoption of best practices, and catalyze innovation in the field. Among other things, the foundation has announced the creation of a $1.8 million Innovation Fund at the Urban Institute that will award grants and provide technical assistance to DDJ participants and other communities.