Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $140,912)
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 Rhode Island SAC is located within the Public Safety Grant Administration Office (PSGAO). The PSGAO is comprised of a Criminal Justice Policy Board, a Steering Committee, and such permanent and ad hoc committees and task forces as the Policy Board deems necessary. The SAC functions are to plan, coordinate, collect data, perform statistical analyses, and administer/distribute grants for the adult criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Three years ago, Rhode Island launched a statewide initiative to modernize and reform the states criminal justice system. On July 7, 2015, the Governor issued an Executive Order establishing a Justice Reinvestment Working Group (the Working Group). The Working Group brought together 27 representatives from all three branches of state government, as well as critical stakeholders from across the criminal justice system and from the behavioral and mental health communities. Together with the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Working Group spent months analyzing local and statewide data to identify the most pressing issues plaguing the states criminal justice system, and to strategize both legislative and non-legislative solutions to these issues. The Working Groups research culminated in a report entitled Justice Reinvestment in Rhode Island: Analysis and Policy Framework. The Report made three principal findings. First, Rhode Islands antiquated probation laws and policies contribute significantly to the number of people incarcerated in the state. Second, the probation system is overwhelmed, and officers are unable to provide the meaningful supervision that reduces recidivism and upholds public safety. Third, judges are not given the information they need to make pretrial release decisions, identify appropriate pretrial diversion options, and connect people to treatment.
In direct response to this report, the SAC is proposing the following special emphasis project
Under the FY 18 Special Emphasis area, the SAC will establish a data exchange to provide the SAC access to information such as admissions, exits, and stock populations for jail, probation, and/or parole and state court or prosecutor statistics including criminal case initiations, pre-trial activities, bail, bond, plea bargains, dispositions, and sentences. This data will help the SAC monitor the implementation of justice reinvestment policies as well as provide stock data from which the SAC or other researchers may perform targeted analyses of the states criminal history records.