Guest Blog by Jac Charlier, National Director for Justice Initiatives, TASC

As a kid I loved playing with Legos. The way they felt and sounded when I snapped them together, block after block, was always fun. Even more so was when my work was done and I would behold my latest creation. It was exciting to see how it turned out—unless that is, I was missing a piece or two. In those cases, I would look at what I had built and know it wasn’t right until I could find the right blocks to finish it. 

Just as with some of my Lego creations, our nation’s criminal justice system has been missing a few blocks, two of which snap on the very front of our criminal justice system. The first piece, called pre-arrest diversion, is uniquely important because it is the only block that can control—decrease or increase—the entry of people into our justice system. Pre-arrest diversion is the connection between law enforcement and treatment, and is done when a person is diverted away from the justice system and into the behavioral health system instead. Pre-arrest diversion goes by many names including QRT, CIT, Angel, Crisis Centers, DART, STEER, Co-Responders, Civil Citation, and LEAD to name just a few of the many emerging variations. (more…)


This week's Vlog features PJI CEO Cherise Fanno Burdeen offering thoughts for the upcoming year.

In 2009, Google embarked on a study to answer a simple question: Does management matter? For a company that prided itself on recruiting the best and brightest, with the notion that most problems could be solved with more technically skilled bosses, the answer was surprising. After mining through performance reviews, feedback surveys, and nominations for best manager (as only Google can do), technical expertise came dead last out of eight major characteristics. Instead, skills such as communication, commitment to employees and a shared vision were paramount. 

The lessons of the algorithm giant might seem obvious, but they also have significance for stakeholders working on pretrial issues. Modern pretrial assessments (or, technically speaking, algorithms) figure significantly in discussions on moving away from money bail. Assessments offer a data-driven way to look at pretrial release and the likelihood of a person appearing for court with no new arrests. Pretrial assessments not only can increase release rates, but also reduce implicit and systemic bias in pretrial release decisions. And they work best when coupled with guidance about how to respond (not react) to the score. (more…)


This time of year has many of us thinking about the children in our lives, even more so than usual. Holidays have much to do with kids, to share a sense of joy and wonder and to create memories with them. Maybe you are thinking about a gift that they will enjoy in particular, or a family tradition you want to share.

But for children and families in poverty, the holidays can also be a source of stress. The holidays can mean a time of hunger, as children lose access to free and reduced-lunch programs at school. Parents must try to work around child care issues. Heating bills can tax an already stretched family budget. (more…)


As any reasonably educated fifth-grader will tell you, our form of government relies upon a system of checks and balances between the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches. As part of that system, the judiciary is allowed to set its own rules for procedures within the court, although in some states, this domain has been challenged. 

In Utah, for example, the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Matthew Durrant, had decided to employ a pretrial assessment tool as a means of providing judges with better information. This decision was the result of two studies from the Utah Judicial Council and the Office of the Legislative Auditor General which showed that judges lacked sufficient information to make fair or safe pretrial decisions. (more…)