States are in the process of making historic policy changes to improve their criminal justice systems. Such high-stakes changes are often accompanied by tensions and resistance from various branches of government or stakeholders, which make it all the more essential to have clear, timely, and credible data available to gauge progress.

Tracking results sounds straightforward, but states face numerous challenges in doing so. Outdated databases often make tracking new measures expensive and difficult. New reports desired by policymakers are frequently created from scratch rather than being integrated into existing reports and analyses, creating additional burdens on staff time. And, reports on data trends too often present plenty of numbers but not enough big-picture analysis to help the public and policymakers summarize successes or challenges to date.

State corrections and other agencies across the country need to take the following steps to ensure effective performance measurement:

  • Action Item 1: Ensure that state agencies have the capacity to collect performance measures.
  • Action Item 2: Establish responsibility for reporting and monitoring results.
  • Action Item 3: Educate stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to maintain momentum.