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While we do not publish full reports, brief examples are available here: Agency B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 Evidence Generation. 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 from the Evidence Generation initiative conduct a criminal history search for each name on the list using the statewide records maintained by DCJS.

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All researchers having any contact with DCJS records are trained by DCJS in all relevant data security and privacy procedures. Before conducting any data searches, every analyst is also fingerprinted to ensure the security and confidentiality of the process.

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

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. Findings from the analysis are not published. Participating agency affiliates know which report is their own, but they do not know the identity of other participating organizations. Reports include a brief, generic description of the programming offered by each affiliate, the types of clients it serves, and common referral sources. This information helps provide context for comparing reports while preserving confidentiality.

These procedures provide affiliated 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. As the Evidence Generation initiative accumulates more of these anonymous reports, affiliated agencies can begin to build 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, which is squarely in the spirit of the Evidence Generation initiative.

Future Growth

The Evidence Generation initiative plans to grow the scope and diversity of its DCJS criminal history projects. We invite all current agency affiliates and all potential affiliates to contact us in order to discuss the feasibility of new criminal history analysis efforts.