Acivilate is honored to participate in the White House Data Driven Justice Initiative. Much attention has been focused on law enforcement use of data, but this initiative focuses on rehabilitation. It’s about sharing innovations that work and are based on data.

Step 1: Visualization

Step one is to enable policymakers and practitioners to use existing data to visualize the problems in their neighborhoods. Jail data typically reveals a pattern of individuals with frequent jail admissions having a history of housing instability.

Housing instability is also a reason why mailed notices to appear in court can be ineffective. Mailed reminder cards have produced a ~10% decrease in failures to appear (FTAs), but telephone reminders have produced a 40%+ drop in FTAs. Everyone has a mobile phone.

Step Two: Identify Individuals

Step two is to identify individuals most in need of assistance. If the high utilizer data from the justice system is shared with the safety net hospital, it may be possible to identify overlapping emergency room high utilizers too, without revealing health information. Frequently admitted Individuals trigger readmission penalties, a costly source of revenue leakage for hospitals.

Step Three: Offer Help

Step three is to reach out to such individuals when next involved with law enforcement, corrections or the health system, to offer support. By starting with high utilizers, perhaps just 1% of the jail population, the problem is manageable. With comprehensive, case management, including cross-boundary information-sharing, providing supportive housing and help with behavioral health issues, the punitive cycle can be broken.

Step Four: Get Results

Miami-Dade committed to focusing on 97 of the jail high utilizers, those experiencing housing instability and mental illness. By tackling these problems with case managers and resources, and with focused police training, they have been able to close a jail, saving $12m a year.

San Diego’s Project 25 also focused on 28 high utilizers of the jail, emergency department, 911 services, housing and counseling services. Such individuals incurred annual costs of $111,000 each. Collaborative case management, with supportive services, led to a cost reduction to $12,000 per person per year.

Does it work in smaller jurisdictions? Rockdale County, Ga, pop. 85,000, and a jail population of 400, reduced recidivism by over 20%, and for those taking help, the rate is only 12%.

If you’d like to be part of a movement of state and local governments seeking to better service these vulnerable citizens, with a view to improving our communities, you can sign up here.