Informed Justice

Using GIS to Build a More Data-Driven, Rehabilitative Criminal Justice System

Over 150 elected officials, law enforcers, and public health professionals from 67 communities across the country met in Washington, DC, last month to explore ways to keep low-risk offenders out of the criminal justice system and respond to the White House’s call for more informed justice.

The Numbers Speak

The urgency of the call is justified. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ most recent data, more than two-thirds of offenders return to prison after three years, while three quarters return within five years. That rate of recidivism costs society by failing to rehabilitate people in the criminal justice system when it’s possible—and ultimately cost effective—to do so.

With the desire to support law enforcement and these vulnerable populations, last month the White House and National Association of Counties (NACo) officially launched the White House Data-Driven Justice Initiative (DDJI). White House and NACo leaders kicked off the initiative with a policy workshop of community leaders and technologists. They discussed better ways to share data and integrate predictive analytics to keep people out of the criminal justice system altogether. Specific methods advocated at the workshop included creating pre-arrest diversion protocols, dispatching first responders to certain high-need populations, and exchanging data between health and law enforcement stakeholders.

Using data collected on “super-utilizers,” or people who frequently have contact with the criminal justice system, professionals can use GIS to connect them to treatment resources within the community, instead of jail or emergency rooms. In this way, a more detailed window into the data prevents continuous and unnecessary cycles of incarceration that have no rehabilitative effect.

True Community Investment

The communities that participated in the workshop engaged in robust conversation outlining the common challenges they face and collaboratively discussing best practices and mutual solutions.  Some communities were conducting hot spot analysis on 911 calls and had secure and effective data exchange figured out, but they were seeking additional technology and resources to maximize the use of that information. As part of the initiative, technologists offered software and services to support data-driven solutions developed with and for those participating communities.

This week, the Data-Driven Justice communities and technologists will convene again in Washington for the first DDJI Technology and Research Consortium to further collaborate on those technical and human solutions.

This last month’s efforts are just the beginning. Esri has pledged $500,000 in advanced GIS tools for the communities committed to Data-Driven Justice. To further this smart methodology, Esri and Amazon Web Services have partnered to build and provide access to many of the solutions demonstrated this week.

To learn more about the White House Data-Driven Justice Initiative, visit the White House Fact Sheet.

About Lauren Lipovic

Lauren has led Esri’s public policy practice since June 2015 with the intention of supporting data-driven policy making in government. Prior to joining Esri, Lauren served as special advisor for economic affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce where she worked with a team of fellow open data enthusiasts to create the department’s first data strategic plan and establish the Commerce Data Advisory Council. Lauren holds degrees in economics from DePaul University, has published on the topic of international trade, and has experience working in campaigns and government. Follow Lauren at @LaurenLipovic.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply