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SEARCH Hosts Capitol Hill Briefing on Importance of Information Sharing to Effective Criminal Justice Reform


SEARCH organized and hosted an October 21 informational briefing on Capitol Hill that focused on the key role information sharing plays in effective criminal justice reform— a top priority currently for lawmakers at all levels of government in the United States.

As Congress reviews criminal justice reform legislation, and policymakers implement reform at the state level, SEARCH’s briefing provided information on proven, effective, and low-cost solutions.

Information Sharing: Traditional vs. New

Outdated procurement practices lead to—

  • expensive projects
  • long development cycles
  • stovepipe solutions.

New approaches—

  • encourage innovation
  • prioritize reuse of successful technology solutions
  • incorporate open-source platforms.

The briefing featured presentations by SEARCH Executive Director Scott Came and Government Affairs Director Kelly Harbitter.  Two dozen congressional, agency, and organizational staff attended the briefing.

“Law- and policy-makers are increasingly turning toward alternatives to pretrial detention, incarceration, and offender reentry programs in their criminal justice reform efforts,” explained Ms. Harbitter. “The aim is to decrease the cost of the criminal justice system, while reducing recidivism, improving outcomes for people accused and convicted of criminal behavior, and improving public safety.”

The briefing stressed that the success of justice reform depends on making timely and accurate information available to the front-line practitioners—law enforcement officers, judges, probation and parole officers, treatment providers, healthcare professionals, and others. With better information sharing, they can make better decisions about sentencing, police accountability, and effective reentry programs.

Without this flow of information, justice reform will likely fall far short of policymakers’ and citizens’ expectations, and may in the end neither reduce expenditures nor improve public safety. But SEARCH’s presentations also stressed that traditional information sharing approaches may no longer work, and discussed new approaches that are proven to effectively solve information sharing problems, drive down costs associated with traditional technical development, and allow jurisdictions to share successful solutions (see box).

Mr. Came outlined how several states have collaborated to effectively implement criminal justice reform through shared development, procurement reform, and by developing reusable solutions to address justice information sharing challenges. This approach and the solutions developed through this method can be successfully replicated across the country to solve some of the most challenging issues facing the criminal justice system today.

info-sharingIn May 2015, SEARCH issued a white paper, The Importance of Information Sharing for Justice Reform, which shows how information sharing supports justice reform in making better decisions; ensuring accountability; providing efficient services; understanding and investing in what works; and building on what exists.
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