Category: News

Washington, DC - Every year, more than 11 million people move through America’s 3,100 local jails, many on low-level, non-violent misdemeanors, costing local governments approximately $22 billion a year.In local jails, 64 percent of people suffer from mental illness, 68 percent have a substance abuse disorder, and 44 percent suffer from chronic health problems.Communities across the country have recognized that a relatively small number of these highly-vulnerable people cycle repeatedly not just through local jails, but also hospital emergency rooms, shelters, and other public systems, receiving fragmented and uncoordinated care at great cost to American taxpayers, with poor outcomes.

For example, Miami-Dade, Florida found that 97 people with serious mental illness accounted for $13.7 million in services over 4 years, spending more than 39,000 days in either jail, emergency rooms, state hospitals, or psychiatric facilities in their county.In response, the county provided key mental health de-escalation training to their police officers and 911 dispatchers. Over the past 5 years, Miami-Dade police have responded to nearly 50,000 calls for service for people in mental-health crises, but have made only 109 arrests, diverting more than 10,000 people to services or safely stabilizing situations without arrest.The jail population fell from over 7,000 to just over 4,700, and the county was able to close an entire jail facility, saving nearly $12 million a year.

On any given day, across the country more than 450,000 people are held in jail before trial, nearly 63 percent of the local jail population, even though they have not been convicted of a crime.A 2014 study of New York’s Riker’s Island jail found more than 86 percent of detained individuals were held on a bond of $500 or less.To tackle the challenges of bail, in 2014 Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina began using a data-based risk assessment tool to identify low-risk people in jail and find ways to release them safely.Since Charlotte-Mecklenburg began using the tool, significantly more low-risk individuals have been released from jail, the total county jail population has dropped by 40 percent, and there has been no increase in reported crime. 

To break the cycle of incarceration, the Administration is launching the Data-Driven Justice Initiative (DDJ) with a bipartisan coalition of 67 city, county, and state governments who have committed to using data-driven strategies to divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and change approaches to pre-trial incarceration, so that low-risk offenders no longer stay in jail simply because they cannot afford a bond.These innovative strategies, which have measurably reduced jail populations in several communities, help stabilize individuals and families, better serve communities, and often save money in the process.

The DDJ communities will implement the following strategies that have proven to be effective in reducing unnecessary incarceration in jails:

Administration Commitments to Support Data-Driven Justice Communities

States, Cities, and Counties Joining the Data-Driven Justice Initiative

Today, 67 states, cities, and counties are committing to join the DDJ Initiative.


  1. Connecticut
  2. Illinois
  3. Maryland
  4. Oregon
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Utah

Cities and Counties

  1. Albany, NY
  2. Allegheny County, PA
  3. Anne Arundel County, MD
  4. Arapahoe County, CO
  5. Bernalillo County, NM
  6. Bexar County, TX
  7. Black Hawk County, IA
  8. Camden County, NJ
  9. Champaign County, IL
  10. Charleston County, SC
  11. Clark County, NV
  12. Coconino County, AZ
  13. Codington County, SD
  14. Dakota County, MN 
  15. Dallas County, TX
  16. Denver, CO
  17. Eau Claire County, WI
  18. Everett, WA
  19. Flagstaff, AZ
  20. Franklin County, OH
  21. Franklin County, PA
  22. Fulton County, GA
  23. Hood River County, OR
  24. Hudson County, NJ
  25. Jefferson County, KY
  26. Johnson County, IA
  27. Johnson County, KS
  28. King County, WA
  29. Knox County, TN
  30. Lafayette Parish, LA
  31. Lake County, IL
  32. Leon County, FL
  33. Los Angeles County, CA
  34. Lucas County, OH
  35. McLean County, IL
  36. Mecklenburg County, NC
  37. Miami-Dade County, FL
  38. Milwaukee County, WI
  39. Montgomery County, AL
  40. Montgomery County, MD
  41. Multnomah County, OR
  42. New Orleans Parish, LA
  43. New York, NY
  44. Oakland, CA
  45. Pima County, AZ
  46. Pinellas County, FL
  47. Polk County, IA
  48. Ramsey County, MN
  49. Rio Arriba County, NM
  50. Salt Lake City, UT
  51. Salt Lake County, UT
  52. San Diego County, CA
  53. San Francisco, CA
  54. Santa Clara County, CA
  55. Snohomish County, WA
  56. Suffolk County, NY
  57. Wake County, NC
  58. Walla Walla County, WA
  59. Washington, DC
  60. Winona County, MN

Answering the Administration’s Call to Action to Use Data to Safely Reduce Incarceration and Improve Outcomes

The Administration recently issued a call to action asking private-sector, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations to take new steps to develop a smarter, more data-driven criminal justice system.

Many organizations have responded to this call to action with commitments to address the specific needs of communities adopting DDJ solutions.These commitments of support will enable DDJ communities to act more quickly to implement these solutions, accelerating progress towards safely reducing unnecessary incarceration. 

Organizations responding to the call to action are providing critical and targeted support in four key areas: data; diversion and coordinated services; research on what works; and ongoing support and collaboration.

I. Data Use and Data Exchange

DDJ communities are taking new steps to link data from across the criminal justice and health systems to: identify the highest-need, highest-cost individuals who have come into frequent contact with law enforcement or emergency services; proactively link these individuals to supportive services that provide stability; decrease encounters with law enforcement; and reduce the costly overreliance on emergency medical treatment.The following organizations responded to the Administration’s call to action by committing to help DDJ communities access and link data while protecting privacy. 

National Support

Support to Data-Driven Justice Communities

II. Assistance with Diversion and Coordinating Community-Based Services

DDJ communities have committed to help police and first responders divert those in a mental health crisis to a more appropriate alternative to jail or the emergency room. The following organizations answered the call to action, offering to help communities address these challenges by providing expert technical assistance on design and delivery of supportive services, developing new tools for police to facilitate diversion, and preventing reentry of those currently in jail.These offers include:

A. Technical Assistance and Capacity

National Support

Support to Data-Driven Justice Communities:

B. Supporting Police and First Responders with New Tools

C. Reentry Prevention

III. Conducting Research to Know What Works and Continually Improve Outcomes

DDJ communities are adopting data-driven and innovative practices.Outside support through research and ongoing evaluation will help improve outcomes while helping to build a knowledge base from which other communities can learn.Commitments include:

Using Data to Identify Trends and Test Interventions

  1. Ongoing Support and Convenings

State-Led Convenings