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How Four States Improved Inmate Re-Entry, Pretrial Systems

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Four states achieved "durable and transformational" reforms to their state justice systems through improvements to reentry processes, data access and information sharing, and their pretrial systems under a National Criminal Justice Reform Project.

Arizona, Delaware, Oregon and Vermont advanced criminal justice reform through a strategic planning process and the adoption of data-driven and evidence-based policies, practices, and programs.

Lessons learned that are described in an NCJRP Issue Brief stress the importance of gubernatorial leadership, enhanced relationships between Governor’s Criminal Justice Policy Advisors and State Administering Agency Directors, the value of data-driven planning, a focus on evidence-based practices and leveraging resources.

Supported by Arnold Ventures and administered by the National Criminal Justice Association and the National Governors Association for Best Practices, the approach builds capacity in states by leveraging existing knowledge, expertise, and resources.

By meeting states, “where they are” and providing guidance and support to both policymakers and program staff, the project aimed to achieve more effective and durable outcomes than those pursued through other reform models.

All four states undertook a data-driven strategic planning process designed to identify the state’s priorities for policy, practice, or programmatic reforms, underwent a process of analyzing how to address barriers and resource gaps, identifying key stakeholders for reform, and developing common goals for action.

Arizona pursued improving reentry outcomes and reducing recidivism. Oregon and Vermont focused on pretrial reform. Central to the process was establishing or strengthening institutional partnerships between the state and universities or other third-party research entities.

In an effort to address Arizona's three-year recidivism rate of approximately 40 percent, then-Arizona Governor Doug Ducey initiated a Recidivism Reduction Breakthrough Project in 2016. Through its work with NCJRP, Arizona is improving Second Chance Center operations and expanding reentry reform to county jails with state funding.

Delaware focused on improving reentry processes and reducing recidivism by convening the Delaware Committee on Criminal Justice Reform and developing the Delaware Strategic Plan for Prisoner Reentry and the Delaware Recidivism Reduction System Blueprint. Evidence-based practice implementation focused on expanded cognitive behavior therapy programming as well as job readiness skills among corrections department clients.

Oregon engaged in planning for pretrial justice reform in two core policy areas: expanding pretrial risk assessments statewide to inform release decision-making at the local level and increasing transparency and access to county jail and pretrial data.

Vermont sought to improve the state’s pretrial justice system through state and local collaboration and to improve data access by creating a formal infrastructure to collect, share, and analyze criminal justice data. \


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