The Bureau of Justice Assistance's (BJA's) "Smart Suite" of programs re-examines every aspect of the criminal justice system to identify what is working in the field to reduce crime and recidivism and make our communities safer. The Smart Suite of programs represents a strategic approach that brings more "science" into criminal justice operations by leveraging innovative applications of analysis, technology, and evidence-based practices with the goal of improving performance and effectiveness while containing costs.
The heart of the Smart Suite is practitioner–researcher partnerships that use data, evidence, and innovation to create strategies and interventions that are effective and economical. This data-driven approach assists jurisdictions to understand the full nature and extent of the crime challenges they are facing and to target resources to the highest priorities.
It is a BJA priority to systemically use data-driven, research-based, and innovative approaches to enhance capacity and outcomes in community safety. BJA annually invests millions of dollars in grant funds and training and technical assistance resources in its Smart Suite of programs to identify, develop, and promote these approaches, which in turn help to build practitioner understanding and targeting of crime issues and needs. Together we reduce crime, improve community safety, reduce recidivism, and prevent unnecessary confinement.
The Smart Suite assists criminal justice practitioners in building their capacity to develop research-based strategies and focus on program fidelity to increase chances of success. This requires practitioner agencies to enhance collection and review of data, which can then serve as a strong foundation for outcome evaluations of program interventions. In most Smart Suite programs, the grantee is required to identify and fund a research partner to assist them in these activities. In the Smart Pretrial program, BJA is testing another approach by having the national training and technical assistance partner act as the research partner to provide services to the three Smart Pretrial sites.
The Department of Justice has a long history of supporting practitioner–researcher partnerships. This includes collaborations between BJA and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to rigorously field test criminal justice models in probation and parole (Demonstration Field Experiments), support innovative and emerging practices, and accelerate the adoption of research and evidence in the field. In the early 2000s, BJA led efforts with NIJ on the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program to promote the use of these partnerships in violence reduction planning and implementation. In 2009, BJA expanded this approach beyond PSN to partnerships with key leaders throughout the criminal justice system and focusing on a range of priority issues. These eventually became the BJA Smart Suite.
Current BJA Smart Suite Programs
The BCJI program supports data-driven, comprehensive and community-oriented strategies to reduce crime and spur revitalization.
Formerly the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program, COSSAP’s purpose is to provide financial and technical assistance to states, units of local government, and Indian tribal governments to develop, implement, or expand comprehensive efforts to identify, respond to, treat, and support those impacted by illicit opioids, stimulants and other drugs of abuse.
BJA also promotes the use of practitioner–researcher partnerships in the demonstration and replication of programs that identify, define, and respond to emerging or chronic crime problems and systemic issues. Through this initiative, BJA looks for strategies to address these issues, including trying new approaches, addressing gaps in responses, building or translating research knowledge, or building capacity.
ISI provides grants and assistance to states, units of local government, and federally recognized Indian tribes to develop, implement, and test innovative and evidence-based probation and parole practices.
The IPS model builds off lessons learned from BJA's former crime-fighting programs and is intended to assist prosecutors develop effective strategies and programs to address violent crime.
PSN is designed to create safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in crime associated with gang and gun violence. The program is based on the cooperation of local, state, and federal agencies engaged in a unified approach led by the U.S. Attorney (USA) in each district. The USA is responsible for establishing a collaborative PSN task force of law enforcement and other community members to implement gang and gun crime enforcement, intervention, and prevention initiatives within the district.
Second Chance Act Demonstration Program
The SCA Demonstration Program focuses on techniques to improve an offender's motivation to change and strategies to alter criminal thinking using a desistance approach. This multi-site demonstration program also provides a rigorous test of a specific reentry model intended to improve offender outcomes post-release.
SAKI provides funding through a competitive grant program to support the comprehensive reform of jurisdictions' approaches to sexual assault cases resulting from evidence found in sexual assault kits that have never been submitted to a crime laboratory.
SPI is a collaborative effort among BJA, national training and technical assistance partners, state and local law enforcement agencies, and researchers designed to assist agencies with identifying innovative and evidence-based solutions to effectively and efficiently tackle chronic crime problems in their jurisdictions.