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Advancing Research on Rural Justice Systems

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $768,881)

The proposed project builds upon a pilot partnership with the Washington Rural Jails Research and Policy Network (WRJN) to collect and make available data on issues impacting rural justice systems for place-based data-driven solutions to issues that contribute to rising rates of rural jail incarceration and recidivism. The project has three objectives: (1) conduct research on rural jails, staff, and pretrial inmates to fill knowledge gaps about pathways and drivers of jail population growth; (2) build and maintain a data repository with standard information across rural jurisdictions to allow individual-level, jail-level, and regional analyses; and (3) engage local stakeholders in data-driven collaborations to address identified issues and promote systemic change through strategic planning. Researchers will analyze quantitative booking data collected via booking logs and administrative data from the 6 partner jails for 2015 to 2023. Data include all charges, conditions of admission and release, bail decisions and amount, and a unique identifier to trace jail stays, sentencing, violation of release conditions, and reoffense. They will examine retrospective cohorts among individuals to study large scale trends and characterize common pathways of entry and return, and the extent of jail recidivism with 18 months followup. Case types include: drug and alcohol arrests, mandatory arrests for domestic and intimate partner violence, failure to appear/comply/pay fines, and recidivism. Data will be analyzed using descriptive and advanced analytic techniques, ranging from logistic regression to survival models to estimate time-to-reincarceration. Analyses will also include fixed effects panel models to assess effects of changing justice practices on entries, stock population. Researchers will collect qualitative information based on audio recorded focus groups and interviews with jail staff, social service providers, and justice-involved individuals. Using $50 gift card incentives, researchers will conduct 20-30 in-depth interviews with formerly jail-incarcerated individuals or currently incarcerated if pandemic conditions allow. Per interview guides, research questions concern four areas: (1) social, economic, and place-based factors that influence jail incarceration and/or returns to jail; (2) system-related obstacles that keep them in or return them to jail; (3) consequences of jail stays and their influence on dysfunction, poverty, physical and mental health; and (4) how can cycles be thwarted through community-based supports? To promote justice partnerships between rural sheriff’s departments and local service providers, researchers will deliver data reports to the partners via meetings to collaboratively pursue data-driven solutions for rural settings given available resources. Other dissemination includes policy briefs, academic presentations, articles, and a book-length manuscript ."Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR  200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: October 21, 2021