Intro and EBDM definition

In June 2008, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) awarded the Center for Effective Public Policy, in partnership with the Pretrial Justice Institute, the Justice Management Institute, and The Carey Group, a cooperative agreement to address “Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems.”

The goal of this initiative is to build a systemwide framework (arrest through final disposition and discharge) that will result in more collaborative evidence-based decision making and practices in local criminal justice systems. This effort is grounded in two decades of research on the factors that contribute to criminal reoffending and the methods the justice system can employ to interrupt the cycle of reoffense.

The initiative seeks to equip criminal justice policymakers in local communities with the information, processes, and tools that will result in measurable reductions of pretrial misconduct, post-conviction reoffending, and other forms of community harm resulting from crime.

Defining EBDM

“Evidence-based decision making” (EBDM) is the practice of using research findings to inform or guide decisions across the justice system.

Some examples of EBDM include:

  • Law enforcement uses objective data to inform the cite/release decision.
  • Prosecutors, defenders, and judges use defendant risk information to determine if pretrial release supervision is appropriate and use offender need assessment data to establish post-conviction release conditions.
  • Jailers assign offenders to skill-building programs and community corrections officials assign offenders to supervision levels based upon risk and needs assessments.
  • County commissioners and executives fund programs that research demonstrates to be effective in reducing offender risk—and eliminate programs that research has proven to be ineffective.