National Criminal Justice Reform Project

The NCJA advocates for effective criminal justice policy and funding for justice assistance programs.

National Criminal Justice Reform Project

The National Criminal Justice Reform Project (NCJRP)  is a long-term technical assistance opportunity to reform criminal justice systems. A joint initiative between the National Criminal Justice Association and the National Governors Association, and funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the NCJRP is intended to support planning and implementation of data-driven, evidence-based system wide criminal justice reform in one or more of the following areas:

  • Reforming pretrial release and bail;
  • Improving the reentry process and reducing offender recidivism;
  • Addressing mental health and substance use disorders in justice-involved populations;
  • Safely reducing prison and/or jail populations; and
  • Implementing evidence-based practices, including improving access to data, and strengthening information sharing practices, adopting performance metrics and integrating evaluation.

The overarching goals of the project are to move all states toward wider adoption of evidence-based practices within criminal justice policy-making and to improve public safety by making criminal justice systems smarter, fairer and more cost-effective.

State Strategic Planning and Leadership Summit (October, 2016)

To kick off the National Criminal Justice Reform Project, a State Strategic Planning and Leadership Summit was held in Denver Colorado in October, 2016. It featured interactive sessions on the state of criminal justice reform; the definition of evidence-based practice; the concepts and principles of statewide comprehensive strategic planning; the importance of data collection and analysis and requirements for sustainability. Subject matter experts engaged participants in a dialogue about what states can accomplish in these five areas of policy and what the current research says. The agenda also include multiple opportunities for states to meet as teams to discuss and begin planning efforts in their own state.

The agenda and presentations from this event are available on our NCJP website.

State Selection for Training and Technical Assistance (December, 2016)

In December, 2016, the National Criminal Justice Reform Project selected the first three states to receive specialized technical assistance in the aforementioned policy areas: Arizona, Illinois and Oregon. Through the project, each state’s criminal justice policy advisor and criminal justice administering agency will lead teams of policymakers and key stakeholders to embed a strategic planning process for advancing and sustaining reforms within the state’s executive branch. That process will enable executive branch agencies to address priorities, enhance decision-making and achieve system-wide improvements in areas where governors can drive change.

Two additional states - Delaware and Vermont - were selected in March, 2017 following a second-round RFA to participate in the NCJRP. Both states will address mental health and substance use disorders for justice involved individuals and implement evidence-based practices. The Delaware initiative will focus on the reentry process and reducing offender recidivism. Vermont will focus on reforming pretrial release and the bail system.

Teams of policymakers and key stakeholders led by the state’s criminal justice policy advisor and the state’s criminal justice administering agency will work to embed a strategic planning process for advancing and sustaining reforms within the state’s executive branch. This process will enable executive branch agencies to address priorities, enhance decision-making and achieve system-wide improvements in areas where governors can drive change.

All-State Convening (November, 2017)

Download the agendaparticipants list, and slideshow presentations from this event.

On November 15, 2017, representatives from the five states involved in the National Criminal Justice Reform Project (NCJRP) met in Washington, DC to share an overview of the work underway in their state and their progress toward addressing the areas of reform. 

During the all-state convening, leaders from Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Oregon and Vermont, including the State Agency Administrators (SAAs) and Governor’s Criminal Justice Policy Advisors (CJPAs), discussed the strategic planning process undertaken in each state, their desired area of reform, the structure of their project and how they are overcoming existing challenges.

In addition to the SAAs and CJPAs, members of the NCJRP Advisory Group provided feedback to the states and highlighted potential issues that that states should be aware of as they continue to move forward. The states were given opportunities to share ideas and discuss the types of technical assistance they would find helpful as they move forward into the implementation phase of the project.

In preparation for the next phase of NCJRP, states will will provide a list of specific implementation recommendations to their governors.

Presenting Strategic Plans to the Governor (Phase II)

Earlier this month Delaware presented its strategic plan to improve the prisoner reentry process to Governor John Carney. The remaining states participating in the NCJRP are required to complete Phase II by the end of January, 2018.

The Delaware plan was the result of eight months of intensive work as part of the National Criminal Justice Reform Project (NCJRP). Delaware was the first, of the five NCJRP states to complete and submit their strategic plan to the Governor. Christian Kervick, executive director of the Delaware Criminal Justice Council and NCJA vice-president, presented the report at the Governors Cabinet Retreat on December 14, 2017.

“We received 100 percent support and buy in moving forward.” Kervick said. “To a Secretary, each pledged whatever staff, collaboration and/or available resources they had available as we proceed. All had words of encouragement.”

Delaware’s Strategic Plan for Prisoner Reentry included input from over 70 stakeholders dedicated to increasing public safety by improving the state’s prisoner reentry process. The Vision and Mission for Delaware’s NCJRP project are as follows:

VISION: Delaware’s Strategic Plan for Prisoner Reentry is a collaborative, system-wide effort developed as part of the state’s Recidivism Reduction System Blueprint. This effort reduces recidivism through the use of data-driven and evidence-based practices, resulting in fewer violations and crimes committed by formerly incarcerated persons, fairer approaches, and increased cost effectiveness, and increased public safety in Delaware communities.

MISSION: In order to achieve this vision, Delaware engages in a continuous evidence-based, policy-driven, data-informed, strategic planning process that: (1) acknowledges the complex dynamics associated with justice involved populations; (2) emphasizes collaboration, partnerships and data sharing across agencies and institutions to reduce barriers to reentry; (3) addresses the risks and needs of justice-involved individuals through a seamless case planning and implementation process for supervision and services; and (4) underscores the nexus between recidivism and programs targeting crime producing risk and need factors along with effective services for housing, employment, health care, mental health, substance abuse, and education.

As part of the NCJRP project, Delaware focused on improving reentry processes and reducing offender recidivism. 

As part of the project Delaware convened the Delaware Committee on Criminal Justice Reform and developed the Delaware Strategic Plan for Prisoner Reentry, Reducing Recidivism of Former Prisoners. The results thus far also include the development of the Delaware Recidivism Reduction System Blueprint, the Delaware Prisoner Reentry Initiative Framework, the Charge of the Evidence Based Practices Workgroup, the Preliminary Policy Recommendations for Recidivism Reduction from the Committee and five workgroups: Housing, Education, Employment, Behavioral Health and Data and Evaluation Workgroups. The Data and Evaluation workgroup also developed a Success Rate Analysis that will allow them to monitor the intermediate performance of reforms that are implemented.

We fully expect that the deliverables and lessons learned from this initiative will not only advance the implementation of data driven and evidence based reentry policies and practices in Delaware but in other states as well. We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Christian Kervick and Valarie Tickle, planning coordinator and the entire Delaware NCJRP team, as well as our consultants Dennis Schrantz, director for the Center for Justice Innovation, and Roger Przybylski, president from RKC Group for their dedication to this work.

NCJRP Advisory Group

The Advisory Group will provide guidance and expertise throughout the duration of the project, and include:

  • Tom Corbett, former governor of Pennsylvania;
  • Michael Jacobson, executive director, City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance;
  • Nancy La Vigne, director of the Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute;
  • Marc Levin, policy director, Right on Crime;
  • Judge Jonathan Lippman, Latham & Watkins LLP;
  • Laurie Robinson, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University;
  • Clay Yeager, senior vice-president, Evidence Based Associates; and 
  • Ed Chung, Vice President of Criminal Justice Reform, Center for American Progress.