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Introduction

The criminal justice system touches the lives of millions of Americans and costs taxes payers hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Yet, answering fundamental questions about law enforcement, criminal courts, and correctional supervision and their impact on society has historically been hampered by a serious lack of quality data.

We at CJARS address this problem through producing an integrated criminal justice data platform and making it as widely accessible as possible. Created from billions of lines of raw data, CJARS is a one-of-a-kind project that is revolutionizing research on the justice system.


Background

CJARS is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization located at the University of Michigan, with partners from the U.S. Census Bureau, that advances knowledge and capacity for research and statistical reporting on the criminal justice system through integrating and harmonizing dispersed criminal justice data from jurisdictions across the United States.

Founded in 2016, CJARS was created with the goal of piloting a program to collect and harmonize administrative criminal justice records. The aim was to create a public data good with the altruistic intention of providing a resource to turn loose the idea, creativity, and expertise of others.

Today, CJARS has grown into a pioneering leader in data infrastructure, creating the premier criminal justice data resource covering hundreds of millions of events occurring in thousands of jurisdictions across the United States. In the course of development, we have developed novel strategies and techniques to solve long-standing data integration and harmonization problems that have previously prevented progress in this area.


Our Work

Through our work, we are creating opportunities to conduct the highest quality and impactful research on the U.S. justice system, with special focus on making data accessible to a diverse and interdisciplinary user base. Our aim is to reach more than just academic researchers, with tools and products specifically geared towards policy-makers, journalists, non-profit organization, students, and the public at large.

As CJARS continues to grow in the years to come, we will continue to innovate, creating the highest quality data on the justice system and advancing our understanding of the determinants of crime and the impacts of public policy.