This article presents insights from a workgroup of jail administrators, correctional experts, and representatives of national associations that employed jail data to improve decision-making, inform resource allocation, and enhance outcomes for both the organization and the inmate populations.
Jails are complex organizations, and the desired outcomes are much more attainable when data are collected, analyzed, and used to drive decision-making. Jails have access to vast amounts of data that, if leveraged properly, can improve decision-making, inform resource allocation, and lead to better outcomes for the organization as well as for the inmate population. To examine this issue, the RAND Corporation in partnership with the University of Denver (DU) analyzed insights from a workgroup of jail administrators, correctional experts, and representatives of national associations. This work, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), identified a total of 43 needs related to jails’ use of data, with 13 high-priority needs associated with the four following themes: Leadership and organizational Issues, information sharing data collection and analysis, applying the data. A fifth theme, Procuring and Implementing a Jail Management System (JMS), related to four of the lower-priority needs, but none of the 13 top-tier needs, the research team determined.