This is the executive summary of the results of a set of workshops sponsored by the Priority Criminal Justice Needs Initiative to identify needs for innovation in technology, policy, and practice across the criminal justice sector that have been revealed by efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These COVID-19 workshops had separate events that focused on law enforcement, court systems, institutional corrections, community corrections, victim services, and community concerns regarding the criminal justice system’s response to the pandemic. The workshops also examined how criminal justice responses to the pandemic might have implications for improving criminal justice systems as pandemic threats recede. Workshops noted that the high-contact features of many criminal justice processes created major challenges in the justice system. Challenges have included ensuring the safety of staff and justice-involved individuals in all phases of criminal justice processing, addressing resource reductions, and redirecting limited resources to changing public safety threats due to the pandemic’s social and financial impacts. The seven 4-hour “virtual” workshops focused on law enforcement services and operations, law enforcement management, court system operations and services, institutional corrections operations and services, community corrections operations and services, and victim services delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each workshop group included representatives from state and local criminal justice agencies and organizations that had been significantly affected by the pandemic, individuals with public health expertise who had worked with the criminal justice sector, representatives of national organizations, and participants knowledgeable about how change in the sector had affected communities and justice-involved individuals. A variety of research and evaluation issues emerged from discussions of each panel. 3 tables