Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $120,295)
This core-capacity project will build upon the successes of the Washington State Statistical Analysis Center’s (SAC) past State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program projects to the SAC proposes to establish new indicator variables to indicator the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the criminal justice database housed in the Washington SAC. The Washington SAC will improve the criminal justice database to include indicators of various COVID-era policies which created a substantial impact on criminal justice populations. These indicators will help inform future work in research and data analysis in justice programs involving reentry and release as well as offer recommendations to institutional and community corrections agencies on best practices going forward in data collection. The presence of permanent indicators further ensures that future research can easily account for COVID disruptions using the same standard, without risk of applying different methodologies each time a study includes the pandemic time period. The added variables will add to the ability to develop objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge. This project will improve the uniformity and completeness of efforts to account for COVID in criminal justice data sets which, in turn, will enhance the usability of the data for analyses and research. This work will expand the utilization of the valuable state asset that is the SAC’s criminal justice database, as the new indicators will be used to assess evidence-based statutes and policies in the state and the overall impacts of COVID-19. This project continues to support the Office of Justice Programs’ goal for delivering ‘outcome-driven services, capabilities, and programs’ through increasing the availability of high-quality, multi-sector data resources. While all criminal justice data has year-to-year differences in policy, law, and trends, the COVID era is wholly unique in the scope and depth of its aberration. Forward-thinking data stewards must consider the methods available to flag and catalogue COVID-era disruptions if the fidelity of future research is to be protected. The SAC is uniquely positioned to fill that role in Washington as the only entity that maintains an identity-linked criminal justice database. With the deliverables included in this project, the SAC is poised to protect the quality of contemporary and future studies that involve Washington’s criminal justice data, while laying the groundwork for state and federal partners to quickly identify records pertaining to specific COVID-era events for future research.