Participate in Justice Counts
Becoming a Justice Counts state demonstrates state leaders’ commitment to making accessible, usable criminal justice data a permanent reality across the criminal justice spectrum, from law enforcement and prosecutors to courts and prisons. Better criminal justice policy requires better data, and better data requires a sensible, flexible, and robust approach to gathering, sharing, and using these data. This includes clear metrics for agencies to share, support for agencies to adopt and share those metrics, infrastructure to make that sharing easy (and, when possible, automated), and support for policymakers to effectively use the metrics to drive policy and funding decisions impacting their criminal justice system and agencies.
There are a variety of ways to become a Justice Counts state, including 1. Independent State/Agency Adoptions, 2. the Founding States Program, and 3. the Implementation Grant Program.
Independent State/Agency Adoptions
Individual agencies, or a coalition of criminal justice agencies, can leverage resources available on the Justice Counts website to assess their readiness to share, build interest, and begin sharing Justice Counts metrics. Resources available to support these efforts include the following:
- Justice Counts self-assessment
- Metrics and technical guide to produce them
- Resources to use the metrics in decision-making (forthcoming)
- Legislative briefings
- Presentations to states, associations, and membership groups
- Support to join the Founding States Program
Founding States Program
Up to 10 states will receive training and technical assistance from the CSG Justice Center and partners, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). These founding states will receive a technical assistance package that includes the following:
- Intensive, short term state engagement
- Participation in the design of the digital infrastructure to ensure it meets agency needs and enables easy sharing of Justice Counts metrics
- Hands-on technical assistance to onboard at least one agency from each of the seven Justice Counts sectors into the digital infrastructure
- Direct support for policymakers to understand and effectively use the metrics to drive policy and budget decisions
Justice Counts has created multiple pathways to become a founding state and will seek to make each of those pathways as easy as possible for state leaders. Download the Be a Justice Counts Founding State Toolkit for a range of resources, from initiative talking points to coalition building.
Implementation Grant Program
Up to 15 states will also be selected to receive funding and training and technical assistance from BJA that includes the following:
- Longer term state engagement
- Support in coordinating a state-specific plan to leverage local resources to implement Justice Counts
- Onboarding into an established digital infrastructure and help perfecting ways to easily share Justice Counts metrics
You can also visit the BJA Funding & Awards page to learn more about grant opportunities to support your Justice Counts work. These opportunities for states are not mutually exclusive; states are invited to leverage the full range of tools to help successfully implement Justice Counts.
Justice Counts Events
How to Make Justice Count: Introducing Consensus-Driven Metrics for Criminal Justice Data
Justice Counts empowers data-driven decision-making today while planning for better criminal justice data tomorrow. On May 4, 2022, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), The Council of State Governments Justice Center, and an unprecedented coalition of partner organizations held an event to build a stronger information infrastructure for the justice system by learning how to mobilize these metrics in your own states.
Justice Counts National Launch
Held on January 26, 2022, the Justice Counts National Launch event explored the significant shortcomings of data in the criminal justice system and introduced a bold solution: Justice Counts. If you missed the event, you can:
Read a Department of Justice press release to learn more about the launch event.
Safety and Justice Deserve Better Data
New scan of criminal justice data shows what information policymakers are working with
Policymakers are often forced to make critical decisions using limited or stale criminal justice data. Over the past year, every trend from crime to revocations has shifted quickly and dramatically. Facing significant challenges, state leaders need up-to-date information from across the justice system, presented in a digestible way. A new 50-state scan of what jails, prisons, and supervision agencies report publicly shows how much—and how little—state policymakers have to work with.
As part of BJA’s Justice Counts initiative, researchers conducted a 50-state scan of publicly available, aggregate-level corrections and jails data. The scan looked at the availability of eight core corrections indicators—new prison admissions, prison population, new probation admissions, probation population, probation revocations, post-release supervision population, post-release supervision revocations, and releases to post-release supervision—scattered across hundreds of agency reports, as well as a review of statewide and county jail confinement rates across all 50 states.
The scan found that elected leaders in several states, including Colorado, Connecticut, and North Carolina, are operating with up-to-date criminal justice information. The most widely reported corrections indicator is prison population, allowing policymakers in 38 states to see the degree to which their prison population has changed each month. As state and local criminal justice practices adjust to the pandemic, the 19 states that report monthly prison admissions data have been able to see that their admissions are starting to climb after historic declines in 2020—demonstrating why it’s important for states to continue to monitor this data.
However, it’s clear that states still have a long way to go. While key criminal justice data is collected, too often, that data is inaccessible or reported irregularly, forcing policymakers to make critical decisions about the safety of their constituents using limited or stale information. Supervision revocations are a driver of prison populations and costs across the country, yet the data scan found that only 12 states have reported monthly probation or post-release supervision revocations since January 2020. And most people under correctional control are on community supervision, yet only 13 states report new probation admissions.
With this baseline understanding of current data reporting, the Justice Counts initiative will go on to develop a set of criminal justice metrics that can significantly increase the data made available to help leaders make informed budgetary and policy decisions. Once the metrics are developed, selected state and local agencies and policymakers will receive assistance in using the data gleaned from the metrics to inform their decision-making.
Justice Counts is a national initiative designed to help policymakers make better-informed decisions with criminal justice data. Launched in 2020 by BJA, the initiative brings together an unprecedented coalition of state and local leaders who are working to enhance policymaking by ensuring that criminal justice data is more timely, less disjointed, and as useful as possible.