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Fostering Innovation Across the U.S. Criminal System: Identifying Opportunities to Improve Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Fairness

NCJ Number
Date Published
24 pages
This report identifies common needs experienced by the three domains of the criminal justice system (law enforcement, the courts, and corrections agencies) and recommends ways to address them.
Using feedback and input from the practitioner community across the 5-year Priority Criminal Justice Needs Initiative project, this report summarizes insights about innovation needs for the justice system. Participants identified several challenges that stem from changes in society, such as new digital crimes, declining systemic responses to mental illness and substance abuse, and lack of community support for public safety interests and justice system processes. Participants also identified changes that originate within the justice system, such as decentralization that complicates innovation, challenges of incorporating new technologies and tactics into criminal justice agencies, the need for more effective protective equipment and less-lethal weapons for law enforcement and corrections officers, difficulties in recruiting and retaining personnel, and resource shortages. Nine recommendations are outlined for addressing these issues, including training materials for addressing digital crime, assessment of the adequacy of public health resources for mental health, improved public awareness and public education campaigns regarding criminal justice policies and practices, limitations on the autonomy of elected judges to customize technological systems for courtrooms, and continued research and promotion of policies and practices proven effective by research.

Date Published: January 1, 2020