Illinois participating in data-driven justice initiative

7/5/2016, 2:24 p.m.
Governor Bruuce Rauner announced recently that Illinois will participate in the White House’s Data Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative.
Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois will join 67 other cities, counties, and states in a bipartisan coalition to identify innovative, data-driven strategies to safely reduce the incarceration rate of low-risk offenders who are mentally ill and addicted to drugs.

Illinois’ participation in the DDJ Initiative and collaboration with other states and municipalities will be coordinated by John Maki, the Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA).

“This initiative combines best practices from other states and data-driven strategies to reduce our reliance on incarceration for people who have substance-abuse disorders and suffer from mental illness,” Governor Rauner said. “It’s time we use data to implement a more commonsense system that will improve public safety and lessen the burden on Illinois' taxpayers.”

Through the DDJ initiative, the Rauner Administration will learn about innovations that local governments and states across the country are using to address the costly and harmful overreliance on jails and prisons for people who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

This work is focused in large part on bringing key strategies that many of Illinois’ most innovative local governments have used to reform their local criminal justice systems to scale. This includes using ICJIA to establish local Criminal Justice Coordinated Justice Councils, to partner with Illinois’ new Department of Technology (DoIT) to build Data Analytics capabilities and capacity, and to form and leverage strategic public-private partnerships.

“If we can identify these individuals in real-time when or before they enter the system, we can treat them, rather than letting them sink deeper into our criminal justice system, and into a costly cycle of dependence,” said John Maki, ICJIA Executive Director. “I look forward to working with Governor Rauner, DDJ coalition members, and Illinois’ local and county governments to make system improvements that better serve the people of Illinois and those suffering from addiction or mental illness.”

"The opportunity for data-driven innovation is important,” said Hardik Bhatt, Secretary of DoIT and CIO for the State of Illinois. “The State of Illinois sits on Petabyes of data that could be analyzed to make better decisions that drive better outcomes and we need to use it."

ICIJA has also announced its partnership with the Illinois Health & Hospital Association to improve the identification of mentally-ill individuals entering the justice system, and to expand their access to healthcare. Together, they will meet with relevant stakeholders, and host several county officials and hospital officials to discuss lowering readmission and improving overall health among these individuals.

The Rauner Administration is also collaborating with non-profits, and local partners on data-driven strategies to identify “super-utilizers;” individuals with mental illness and chronic health problems who cycle between jails, hospitals, and shelters.

The DDJ Initiative aligns with Governor Rauner’s own criminal justice reform initiative. In February 2015, by Executive Order the Governor created the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. Governor Rauner tasked the commission with studying Illinois’ Criminal Justice System to find strategies for safely reducing the state’s prison population 25 percent by 2025. The Commission released its first report in December of 2015, outlining initial recommendations, many of which align with the White House’s initiative. The Governor has called for officials to develop tested, data-driven risk assessment tools to replace the current pre-trial release process.