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FFY14 State Justice Statistics Program for Statistical Analysis Centers: Improving Access to Jail Data

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $298,131)

The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.

The Washington State Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) is located in the Human Services Section of the Washington State Office of Financial Management's (OFM) Forecasting and Research Division. OFM, as the state's central management agency and as the governor's budget office, is uniquely positioned to facilitate, implement and coordinate an integrated approach to researching and forecasting for justice-related programs. Under this award, the SAC will use funds to complete a two-year project that will improve the access to and usability of the Washington Jail Booking Report System (JBRS) data for research and assessment. Currently, all but two of the jails in Washington provide data to JBRS with about 12,500 individuals released from jails on average every two weeks. The Washington State SAC was awarded an SJS grant in 2013 to create a criminal justice consortium with the goal of identifying and potentially solving issues related to sharing data among criminal justice-related state agencies. At the first meeting of the consortium, one of the foremost issues discussed by the group was the lack of available jail data for research. Washington State statute categorizes jail data as confidential, with the exception of specific law enforcement agencies and de-identified blotter data. During the 2013 legislative session, several agencies within the consortium were contacted by legislative staff requesting analysis on mental health in jails. Although the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) maintains JBRS, they were unable to provide any data due to its confidentiality. In April 2014, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 6312 which authorizes the use of jail data for research purposes in the public interest. Now, OFM receives jail data on a monthly basis from JBRS as dictated by statute. The variables included in the JBRS report are too limited for research purposes, so the SAC has been unable to make use of the reported data. The SAC will use funds to complete a data quality assessment of the JBRS data and create a process to standardize the data variables. This project will improve access to the jail data for the SAC and other state agencies and will greatly improve the SAC's capabilities to conduct research using JBRS data. Additionally, the SAC will partner with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) -Research and Data Analysis Division (RDA) and the Education Research and Data Center (ERDC) to conduct four primary research projects: Study 1: Using Administrative Data to Identify the Overlap between Mental Health and Criminal Justice Systems; Study 2: Using administrative data to model the risk of young adults entering the criminal justice system; Study 3: Impact of Education and Other Characteristics on Jail and Prison Admission; and Study 4: Education and Employment Characteristics of Incarcerated Young Adults. Separate reports will be written and findings will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders.

Date Created: September 2, 2014