Funded Research by Theme

RIDIR: Developing and Deploying the Criminal Justice Administrative Records System

RIDIR: Developing and Deploying the Criminal Justice Administrative Records System

Michael Mueller-Smith, Keith Finlay

The Criminal Justice Administrative Records System (CJARS) is a project created to address gaps in the existing data infrastructure of the U.S. criminal justice system. The U.S. criminal justice system has six million individuals under correctional supervision and requires hundreds of billions of dollars in public expenditures. Scholars and policymakers have consistently called for robust, scientific analysis quantifying the benefits and costs of justice practices, yet this goal has been fundamentally constrained by limitations including a lack of data integration across agencies and jurisdictions as well as an inability to measure outcomes in social and economic domains. CJARS addresses these gaps by collecting administrative data from criminal justice agencies across the U.S., harmonizing event data into a common national format, and linking person-level records to form longitudinal histories of life course interactions with the justice system. In partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, CJARS data will be made available in Federal Statistical Research Data Centers, where criminal justice data can be integrated with a wide range of socioeconomic survey and administrative data, and thus support a new generation of innovative research on the U.S. criminal justice system.

This project involves three areas of activity: (1) preparation of CJARS for external research access by benchmarking it to existing statistical series and performing advanced validation checks based on integrated criminal and non-criminal microdata; (2) production of novel research on the U.S. justice system that illustrates the breadth of possibilities enabled by the CJARS platform; and (3) development of access infrastructure and launching of outreach activities to engage a large and diverse user base. The research includes studies of the prevalence of criminal justice interactions across the U.S. and the methodology of harmonizing administrative records. Outreach activities will raise awareness of data and research opportunities, facilitate new research proposals, and maximize the scientific value of the infrastructure.

Funding source: National Science Foundation

Funding years: 08/15/2019-7/31/2023