Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $167,137)
The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.
The Vermont Department of Public Safety (DPS) is the State Administering Agency (SAA) for Vermont. On November 4, 2014, Governor Peter Shumlin signed Executive Order #06-14 designating DPS the Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) for the State of Vermont. Crime Research Group (CRG) is the research partner for DPS and will provide SAC services through a contract with DPS. Crime Research Group was contracted and selected for their expertise and prior experience with criminal justice efforts within the state under the now defunct Vermont Center for Justice Research (VCJR). Their efforts are to accomplish the following goals: 1) to collect and analyze criminal justice information; 2) to produce general information and statistical reports on crime, criminal offenders, and the administration of criminal justice; 3) to provide and coordinate technical assistance to the legislature and to state and local law enforcement agencies, the courts and corrections and 4) to create an evidence-based criminal justice system. The Deputy Commissioner of DPS oversees SAC services (including the CRG contract) and Criminal Justice Services Division, whose primary purpose is to provide administrative, information and technology support services.
Under this award, the VT SAC proposes three separate but related projects. The first project falls under the special emphasis program area and proposes to conduct an audit of the States criminal history records. Since an audit has not been conducted in 20 years and has incurred upgrades and automation, the SAC proposes to audit its records to ensure that the criminal history records used in their research are complete and accurate. They anticipate that this audit will identify weaknesses and strengths in the current system as well as create a more robust process to improve efficiencies.
The two other projects proposed by the VT SAC are under the core capacity program area.
The Law Enforcement Data Access and Dissemination project main goal is to address the challenge that criminal justice researchers in Vermont have in relying on and improving the availability of valid and timely statewide crime data. Despite the fact that there are several automated police records/data systems in the state, all of these systems and analytical tools have serious limitations. The combination of valid and timely data with a limitation plagued system negates the ability of criminal justice researchers to collect and analyze statewide crime data. The process for sharing law enforcement data creates another challenge. The VIBRS and Valcour Advisory Boards act as the conduits for requests for law enforcement data. For statewide data, researchers need releases from all 70 law enforcement agencies granting permission which is a cumbersome and lengthy process. This proposal seeks to engage justice partners in a collaborative process that reflects and produces a standardized process for information sharing. The Results First cost benefit project is proposing to address the challenge that most states face which projects and programs do you invest funding to supporting criminal justice efforts. The VT SAC believes that the use of the Pew Approach (which has been in use since 2011) will improve the availability and enhance the reliability of the Vermont First Model. The improvement is all efforts to ensure that legislators and others have program information on program and cost effectiveness and ultimately, result in better decision making. (CA/NCF)