JSP has a new way of conceptualizing the work we do with jurisdictions across the country to transform criminal legal systems. In our four-step approach, JSP creates an environment that values diverse perspectives in problem-solving; boldly explores and analyzes inequities within the current system; and actively facilitates the inclusion of those most directly impacted by the current system in creating and implementing innovative solutions. The following phases describe our approach. Though some of our work may focus more heavily on a particular phase, each comes into play in some capacity across all projects we take on.

We first seek to understand the unique characteristics of the jurisdictions in which we work. Recognizing that existing systems are entrenched in complex legal, social, and structural dynamics, we take a holistic view of the community. We use formal and informal methods of collecting data to understand the needs of the communities with whom we partner. This includes conducting background research on the history of the jurisdiction, local ordinances, and state legislation; meeting with community and system stakeholders to gather multiple perspectives and observe local culture; and gathering relevant quantitative data. For example, in Multnomah County, Oregon we worked with system stakeholders to discover opportunities for potential impact.

Following the discovery phase, we use qualitative and quantitative techniques to better understand local data and systems. Depending on the project’s goals, this may result in identification of needs, gaps, and opportunities; cost benefit analysis; systems analysis; and legal and legislative analysis. Furthermore, we deliver the results of our analysis in digestible ways, maximizing value to those with whom we work and their communities. In two jurisdictions in Iowa, for example, we analyzed data on probation conditions and revocation rates as well as qualitative data from staff surveys and interviews with impacted people to help system stakeholders to make important changes to the way conditions are used.

We develop approaches and tools that are practical and useful to stakeholders while ensuring they are informed by an equity and inclusivity lens. We challenge the status quo and facilitate out-of-the-box thinking to overcome the strong inertia present in existing policy, structure, and culture. At this stage, we emphasize participation of multi-stakeholder work groups in creating innovative solutions that are informed by the voices of those who will be most directly impacted. For example, we are working with the National Institute of Corrections and teams in Kansas, Michigan, and Texas to pilot an innovative assessment process and tools to help agencies create an environment conducive to evidence-based practices.

We work with sites to operationalize innovation. We apply our expertise in implementation science to assist sites in planning and executing visionary change, ensuring effective and sustainable transformation. Our careful consideration of key details like sequencing, timing, funding, communication, training, leadership development, and measurement and evaluation help ensure that process obstacles and are minimized in the operationalization of change. Through our work with the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, for example, we’ve helped jurisdictions including Cook County, Illinois implement strategies for reducing the local jail population.

Across all of our work, we use this roadmap to inspire clients to ask fundamental questions that get at the heart of public service, help them design methods for critical inquiry, support them in gathering essential data, and arrive, together, at creative solutions to improve the safety and wellbeing of the people in their communities. Our approach is helping systems across the country become more equitable, effective, and humane— more to follow on the outcomes of our work!

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