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Innovation in the Criminal Justice System: A National Survey of Criminal Justice Leaders

NCJ Number
Melissa Labriola; Emily Gold; Julia Kohn
Date Published
May 2013
34 pages
This report presents the findings and methodology of a nationwide survey of a sample of criminal justice leaders in order to determine the current state of innovation in criminal justice.
The survey addressed the prevalence of innovation, data-driven decisionmaking, barriers to innovation, and sources of new ideas. Regarding the prevalence of innovation, the 624 respondents rated their agencies as innovative on the basis of new programs or initiatives launched. Other issues addressed in relation to the prevalence of innovation were involvement in the trial-and-error process in new programming, the proactive response to failure, specific innovative leaders and programs, and differences in innovation among the agencies represented by respondents. Regarding data driven decisionmaking, the survey solicited information on the use of data and research, agency differences in data-driven research, and the relationship between research and innovation. The most common barriers to innovation reported were a lack of funding and frontline staff's lack of commitment to specific innovations. Regarding sources of new ideas, the most commonly cited sources for new ideas on criminal justice programs or reform initiatives were colleagues (85 percent), conferences (78 percent), and professional associations (77 percent); 48 percent reported using the Internet as a source of information on criminal justice reform. Ninety-four percent of respondents said they would be interested in reading a publication about criminal justice innovation. The questionnaire was administered from June to August 2012 among a nationwide sample of 1,000 professionals in the criminal justice fields of community corrections, prosecutors' offices, police chiefs and sheriffs, and all 102 chief judges and chief court administrators from the 50 States and the District of Columbia. A total of 624 individual criminal justice leaders responded to the survey (62 percent of the sample). Extensive tables, 6 references, and appended survey questionnaire