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The Front End of the Criminal Justice System

The Front End of the Criminal Justice System


LJAF is leveraging data, analytics, and technology to improve decision making during the earliest part of the criminal justice process—from the time a defendant is arrested until the case is resolved.

The decisions made at this stage—known as the pretrial phase—have enormous impacts on public safety, government spending, and fundamental fairness. Yet, in most jurisdictions, police, prosecutors, and judges typically have little information about the risks a given defendant poses or how to best mitigate those risks. Therefore, key decisions are often made in a subjective manner without the aid of rigorous research and objective metrics on which approach—incarceration, supervision, diversion, etc.—will be most effective in protecting public safety in each case. As a result, in many jurisdictions, approximately half of the highest-risk defendants are released before trial, often with minimal or no supervision, while significant numbers of low-risk, non-violent defendants are detained.

LJAF’s front end work aims to fundamentally change how the system operates by developing objective, evidence-based tools, piloting and evaluating innovations, and performing foundational research that law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and others can use—in concert with their professional discretion—to arrive at more effective decisions.

Public Safety Assessment
Piloting and Evaluating Innovations and Interventions
Performing Foundational Research