Burgum, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announce initiative focused on prison re-entry success

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Across the country, criminal justice agencies are trying to preserve and ensure public safety while reducing prison populations. To date, it’s been challenging to track what’s working and whether various practices, policies and programs are helping individuals leaving prison to succeed at reintegrating with their communities. North Dakota is pioneering a new approach that will establish analytical capabilities that allow leadership and staff to answer these questions and to see, in real time, what’s working and what isn’t.

In partnership with Recidiviz – a technology nonprofit founded by engineers from Google, Apple and Dropbox – the DOCR will be able to monitor success on an ongoing basis and in detail through the new initiative, titled Continuous Corrections Improvement - North Dakota (CCIND). This will enable the DOCR to identify, scale and sustain strategies that are driving success.

“With this initiative, the DOCR is transitioning to a state of continuous improvement that will allow it to see the real-time impact of changes, better equipping the department to plan and act,” Burgum said. “By harnessing this technology, we can enhance public safety, improve lives and save taxpayer dollars.”

In particular, the DOCR aims to:

  • Decrease the rate of people returning to prison
  • Increase the rate of successful completions of community supervision
  • Increase days at liberty for those on community supervision
  • Meet more of individuals’ needs.

“These success metrics will now be automatically tracked and reported to leadership and staff on a daily basis,” DOCR Director Leann Bertsch said. “Increasing re-entry success is a win-win-win: It means fewer crimes are being committed, the lives and communities of returning citizens are being improved and fewer taxpayer dollars are being spent on incarceration.”

Monitoring success in the criminal justice system has been challenging. Information about prison stays, programming and community supervision is spread across many different data systems, making efforts to use it labor-intensive, expensive and slow. The new initiative leverages advances in cloud computing and analytics to enable the DOCR to automatically track the impact of changes as they’re rolled out, without additional staffing or resources.

The work builds on previous innovative efforts to reform North Dakota’s corrections system, including those covered by Governing and National Public Radio, and the recent Justice Reinvestment effort.

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