Evidence-Based Practices

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 to help formerly incarcerated persons re-enter the community as productive citizens.  JMI has been a key partner in the field to identify the core principles and action strategies that reduce the harm to communities caused by crime. EBPs offer criminal justice systems tested approaches built on decades of creative experience and experimentation by policymakers and practitioners alike and rigorous research.

Emerging Topics and Trends

EBPs first found their stronghold in community corrections, now the application of evidence-based approaches is being increasingly adopted throughout the case processing continuum to not only inform the decision making process but also to improve public safety outcomes and return on investment for justice dollars.

  • Many jurisdictions are exploring and implementing the use of validated risk and needs tools earlier in the adjudication process—for diversion and deferred prosecution decisions, to inform plea negotiations, and at sentencing.
  • Proxy tools, based on a small number of readily available details, are increasingly being used to quickly identify which individuals are low-risk very early in the process so that their cases can be resolved quickly and often without further penetration into the system, reserving limited resources for medium- and high-risk offenders.
  • Pre-charge diversion, either by law enforcement or prosecutors, is emerging as a means for identifying individuals that require intervention from a behavioral health or social service agency rather than the criminal justice system, or as a means for holding very low-risk offenders accountable without the collateral consequences of a conviction.

Project Highlights

A Framework for 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 developed and implemented 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. Read more . . .

Smarter Sentencing to Reduce Recidivism: A Training for Criminal Justice Stakeholders

Smarter Sentencing to Reduce Recidivism: A Training for Criminal Justice Stakeholders is a training and technical assistance program for local criminal justice systems 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 provides on-site and electronic technical assistance to jurisdictions interested in developing smarter sentencing initiatives. Read more . . .

Franklin CruzEvidence-Based Practices