Established by the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY), the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII) was designed to invest funds in impactful projects that will improve public safety, develop broad crime prevention efforts, and promote a fair and efficient justice system. The CJII is focusing on investments across several thematic areas: building skills and supports among young people, families, and communities to help prevent crime; enhancing and developing new approaches for serving victims of crime; increasing diversion and improving service delivery options for individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system; and enhancing efforts that cut across systems to improve public safety.
The CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance is the technical assistance consultant on this project. We offer guidance to DANY and to CJII funded projects throughout the lifetime of the initiative and provide oversight and performance measurement.
Phase 1: Identifying Gaps and Looking for Solutions
During the initial planning phase, ISLG worked closely with DANY to develop a strategy that would address each of the priority areas. As part of this phase, we conducted extensive literature reviews, and we reached out to more than 180 community stakeholders to learn more about promising practices, gaps that exist, and ideas that could have a lasting impact.
Phase 2: Proposing Investments
Based on our findings and feedback, we worked with DANY to identify investment opportunities that addresses current gaps and needs in the criminal justice system in New York City. We identified opportunities across the seven priority areas, focusing on those that have the potential to effect significant change in public safety and in the fairness, efficiency, and effectiveness of the justice system in New York City.
Phase 3: Initial Funding
DANY is committed to investing $250 million in CJII projects. Initial funding for projects became available beginning in early 2016 and continues on a rolling basis. Current open solicitations are listed at CJII.org.
Current open solicitations include:
- Request for Proposals to Evaluate Programs for Foster Youth Transitioning to Adulthood, due Friday, June 15
Phase 4: Training
ISLG provides training and oversight to CJII-funded projects and serves as their liaison to DANY. We assess the research and data capacity of funded projects and provide training in data collection, analysis, and management where necessary. We also ensure that funded projects adhere to uniform data collection procedures in order to facilitate evaluation and performance measurement. We offer support and guidance throughout the life of projects, making our research staff available to respond to questions, help solve problems as they arise, and ensure that projects are progressing as planned.
Phase 5: Measuring Progress
ISLG measures the performance of funded projects. Before projects begin, we aim to perform initial measurements in order to establish baselines against which we can compare subsequent data. This process also helps us determine project-specific goals and targets, which we use to track progress once projects have begun. When necessary, separate evaluations of projects will also be funded to support more rigorous evaluation designs.
In consultation with individual projects, we develop performance indicators at various levels. Process indicators measure the extent to which funded projects are meeting targets (e.g., adherence to proposed deadlines, development of program curriculum). Output indicators measure the impact of specific activities and interventions (e.g., number of people trained, number of days unemployed, length of stay in detention). Outcome indicators assess overall improvements in the justice system as a result of program activities (e.g., reduced recidivism, reduced use of incarceration). We use a mixed-method approach to collect rich quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data is used to assess improvement over time and to synthesize project results, and qualitative data provides greater context to the findings and complicated factors underlying the project’s operation.
As project activities begin, we monitor performance to determine projects’ progress, where improvements could be made, and where additional support or guidance could be needed. If progress on a given project is not apparent, for example, we could recommend to DANY that the project be re-envisioned or discontinued. Throughout the process, we will promote information-sharing among funded projects. Once projects have been completed, we will consider their outcomes and impact, and their implications for the justice system in New York City and beyond.