DCJS Criminal History Projects

logo_dcjsIn collaboration with the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (JohnJayREC), the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) developed a protocol for conducting follow-up studies of client recidivism for agencies affiliated with JohnJayREC’s Evidence Generation initiative. Each study adheres to the data security safeguards required by DCJS. The resulting reports provide de-identified recidivism data that agency affiliates may use to assess their effectiveness. Each report documents the proportion of former clients that had new justice contacts (i.e. arrests and convictions) after leaving an agency’s program(s), but the reports do not reveal the identity of individual clients.

While we do not publish full reports, brief examples are available here: Agency B
Agency C

The Process

The criminal history reporting process begins when an agency submits a list of former clients with identifying information (name, sex, race, date of birth, etc.) to the research team at JohnJayREC. The clients are usually those served by the affiliated agency three to five years in the past (in order to allow sufficient follow-up time). Researchers at JohnJayREC then request a criminal history search from DCJS for each name on the list using the statewide record system. All researchers having any contact with DCJS data are trained by DCJS in all relevant data security and privacy procedures.

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The results of the records search are compiled into a de-identified database. Information from DCJS criminal history records is appended to each record of client information supplied by the submitting agencies. All identifying information is stripped from the database by DCJS before the newly combined data file is returned to John Jay College. Researchers at JohnJayREC then analyze the data to examine recidivism across different client characteristics and levels of program participation without having any identifying information about clients.

The submitting agencies receive written reports about these analyses, but the reports do not name the agencies. Pseudonyms are used instead, such as Agency A, Agency B, etc. Participating agency affiliates know which report is their own, but they do not know the identity of the other participating organizations. Reports may include a brief, generic description of the programming offered by each affiliate, the types of clients it serves, and common referral sources, excluding any specific information that could reveal the identify of the agency. The goal is to supply enough information to provide context for comparing reports while preserving confidentiality of submitting agencies.

These procedures provide submitting agencies with previously unavailable, detailed information about long-term client recidivism. Agencies may examine the relationship of their efforts to the subsequent recidivism of their clients over time. As the initiative accumulates more anonymous reports, affiliated agencies may begin to build longitudinal evidence on their outcomes of interest. At a minimum, the anonymous report format supports a simple, one-time comparisons, but each agency is encouraged to review their outcomes intermittently over several years.

Future Growth

JohnJayREC hopes to grow the scope and diversity of its DCJS criminal history projects. We invite all potential agency affiliates to contact us in order to discuss the feasibility of including them in the next round of criminal history analysis projects.