Evidence-based decision making

Every year, billions of dollars are allocated for our criminal justice system, and yet the success rate for the system is quite low at roughly 33% nationally. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67% of offenders released from prison are rearrested within 3 years after discharge and approximately 30% of offenders on probation are reconvicted for a new crime. For the practitioners and policymakers in the system, these results are a source of constant frustration, despite all their hard work to address recidivism, and there is a growing sentiment that the criminal justice system is need of repair. Reliance on incarceration as the primary form of punishment, the growing costs of operating the system, and the failure to significantly reduce the recidivism rates are among the most significant issues facing the justice system today.

Over the past several decades, a substantial body of knowledge, which has become known as Evidence-Based Practices (EBP), has emerged about what works to reduce the risk of re-offending, and more recently, to help formerly incarcerated persons re-enter the community as productive citizens.

JMI works with justice practitioners and policymakers to understand and make use of EBPs in their efforts to increase public safety, reduce recidivism, and make the most effective use of public dollars possible.

Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems

With funding from the National Institute of Corrections, and in partnership with the Center for Effective Public Policy, the Pretrial Justice Institute, and the Carey Group, JMI is working to develop and implement a framework for local criminal justice systems on evidence-based decision making. The framework is designed to foster the use of state-of-the-art research at all decision points in the criminal justice system—at the systemic level for policy decisions; within individual agencies; and at the case level, for individual offenders.

Click here to view the framework document.

Smarter Sentencing to Reduce Recidivism

The Smarter Sentencing Project is a training and technical assistance program for local criminal justice systems, and courts in particular, to help them incorporate evidence-based practices into their sentencing decisions. Designed for local teams of prosecutors, judges, defense counsel, and community corrections officials, the training focuses on developing a basic understanding of the research about what works in reducing offender recidivism; learning how to apply the research in plea negotiations, sentencing recommendations, sentencing, and probation revocations; and designing local plans for implementing smarter sentencing practices. In addition, JMI and its partner for the project, the Carey Group, are available to provide on-site and electronic technical assistance to jurisdictions interested in developing smarter sentencing initiatives. Available technical assistance includes:

  • Practitioner workshops and trainings
  • Strategic planning meetings with policy makers
  • Local data reviews and assessments
  • Provision of research, documentation, and other tools in support of smarter sentencing


Available materials include: