Justice Information Sharing

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

Gathering, Sharing and Using Data to Support Decision Making

Today’s technology solutions require strategies that improve how the justice enterprise collects, shares, and uses information to support justice and public safety decision making. Strong state level leadership and planning, and collaboration with local practitioners, is critical to implementing and improving justice information sharing strategies across the country. State criminal justice administering agencies (SAAs) spend nearly one-fifth (currently $70.M) of Byrne JAG funds on information sharing initiatives including criminal records, cyber-crime, identity theft, fusion centers, and other information sharing projects, they are becoming more knowledgeable about national standards and their leadership role in these efforts. Many of the planning and policy issues relating to privacy, the use of data, system governance, collaborative stakeholder involvement, and investment decisions to promote the adoption of national standards require the executive leadership. Working together, SAAs and practitioners can provide a collaborative environment to increase the adoption and implementation of national standards and tools for justice information sharing country.

Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative

The Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (Global) serves as a Federal Advisory Committee and advises the U.S. Attorney General on justice information sharing and integration initiatives. Global was created to support the broad scale exchange of pertinent justice and public safety information. Global promotes standards-based electronic information exchange to provide the justice community with timely, accurate, complete, and accessible information in a secure and trusted environment. 

Global is a ''group of groups,'' representing more than 30 independent organizations, spanning the spectrum of law enforcement, judicial, correctional, and related bodies. Member organizations participate in Global with a shared responsibility and shared belief that, together, they can bring about positive change by making recommendations and supporting the initiatives of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). To help steer and facilitate Global efforts, the U.S. Attorney General reached out to key personnel from local, state, tribal, federal, and international justice entities to form the Global Advisory Committee (GAC). The NCJA is a founding member of Global and NCJA staff and representatives serve on Global working groups including the Global Privacy and Information Quality and Outreach Working Groups. 

Led by Global, standards based justice information sharing technology and practice have advanced over the past decade. National standards have been promulgated for virtually every aspect of justice information sharing. The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) has standardized the format for the exchange of data. Global Reference Architecture (GRA) has standardized the configuration of the technical architecture for information exchange services. Global Federated Identity and Privilege Management (GFIPM)  has set standards for resolving credentialing and access restrictions. Standards have also been set for constructing a technical articulation of access limitations and privacy requirements.  A standardized set of policies and practices have also been developed to ensure privacy safeguards and information quality. These standardized tools have been designed to work in conjunction with one another and when implemented increase efficiency, enhance operations, and promote cost savings and reuse. These tools are often described as the Global Information Sharing Toolkit (GIST).

Privacy Guidelines

As criminal justice entities achieve information sharing, it is important that privacy, civil rights and civil liberties protections are implemented for information that is collected, stored, maintained, accessed, shared and disseminated. Such protections reduce privacy risks and legal liability and help to maintain credibility of public safety agencies and practitioners. 

Privacy policies are essential components of justice information sharing initiatives. While many state, tribal, or local jurisdictions and agencies have policies and procedures that address the issue of privacy within their regular operations, agencies should adhere to a comprehensive privacy policy specific to justice information sharing. States are strongly encouraged to take a leadership role in this effort by providing assistance to local and tribal agencies in the development of statewide model privacy policies or policy development templates consistent with Federal and State law. Comprehensive privacy policies serve as the lynchpin to developing a system of trust that allows agencies to share personally identifiable and other sensitive information. There needs to be trust not only within and between justice partners sharing information, but also by the public, whose information is being collected and used, that justice agencies are responsible stewards of personally identifiable information and operating with respect for individual privacy and the law.  Without this trust, information sharing initiatives will not thrive and are, ultimately, doomed to public condemnation and civil liability.

The Justice Information Privacy Guideline grew out of a collaboration between the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), the Office of the Ontario Privacy Commissioner and United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs who met with the goal of developing a series of documents for state, local, and tribal use in planning, developing, implementing, and testing privacy policy in justice information systems. The goal of the Guideline is to provide assistance to justice leaders and practitioners who seek to balance public safety, public access, and privacy when developing privacy policies for their agencies’ systems, whether already operating or being planned and whether independent of or integrated with those of other agencies.  Providing insights on difficult issues faced by justice leaders in developing privacy policy, the Guideline was prepared through a national and international collaboration of nearly 100 state, local and tribal justice leaders, as well as academia, elected officials, the media and the commercial sector.

Training and Technical Assistance

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The NCJA provides training and technical assistance (TTA) to enhance public safety and maximize justice information sharing (JIS) investments at the state, local and tribal levels. With a focus on promoting and strengthening state level leadership and replicating best practices, NCJA works to promote the implementation of policies, practices, and technology solutions that leverage JIS national standards Global Standards Package. SAAs must now require compliance with GSP whenever making grants that involve information sharing. Contact Tammy Woodhams, NCJA Senior Staff Associate, at twoodhams@ncja.org for information about JIS TTA. See examples of recent JIS activities.

Justice Information Sharing Practitioners Network

The Justice Information Sharing Practitioners Network (JISP) is a national network of state and local justice and public safety integration practitioners committed to increasing the local, regional and national sharing of justice information through peer collaboration and facilitation. JISP provides a forum for centralizing and standardizing issues and solutions for integrated justice information systems embracing an enterprise-wide and national view. Blending the information, experience, and resources across many sources, agencies, disciplines, and backgrounds, JISP communicates a pragmatic and holistic approach to criminal justice information sharing. The JISP Network is open to state, local or tribal government practitioners who have responsibility for managing, implementing, and overseeing the justice information sharing systems. Membership is free. Contact Tammy Woodhams, NCJA Senior Staff Associate, at twoodhams@ncja.org for more information.