Lack of cross-collaboration between a large number of independent government agencies in the City of St. Louis, MO, and its surrounding municipalities, means that the region is grappling with an increased rate of recidivism among people who suffer from severe and persistent behavioral and mental health issues. Lack of data sharing and poor communication between hundreds of agencies, myriad jails, and more than 80 municipal courts has created a social-justice crisis for the City of St. Louis. This problem highlights an obvious need for a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to bring decision makers together in an effort to facilitate increased data sharing with the goal of better aligning behavioral health, physical health, and criminal justice agencies to improve outcomes for individuals, reduce the use of criminal justice resources, and improve public safety.
The National Council of State Legislators reported that 56 percent of people in state prisons, 45 percent of people in federal prisons, and 64 percent of people in local jails identify as having mental health problems, including major depression, mania, and psychotic disorders. However, only one in six jail inmates, and one in three state prisoners receive mental health treatment. What’s more, mentally ill local-jail inmates are 12 percent more likely to become repeat offenders than inmates without mental health issues. Mentally ill people housed in state prisons – who receive treatment twice as often – re-offend at half the rate of mentally ill people in local jails. With criminal justice reform at the forefront of public consciousness, abolishing discriminatory policies and institutions is vital for the St. Louis Department of Public Safety to advance social justice, remove structural inequities, and increase human dignity for people cycling through the criminal justice system.
To this end, the City of St. Louis and the County of St. Louis are on the board of the Regional Justice Information Service Commission (REJIS), which was created in 1974 to harness technology in an effort to share information between the city and the county by integrating police, courts, and jails through a secure data-sharing network. However, the City still faces challenges collecting, analyzing, and studying relevant data due to numerous entities owning specific pieces of data. A fractured criminal justice system means that courts aren’t always communicating with parole and probation officers, police aren’t liaising with prosecutors, and jails often don’t receive a complete profile and history of each inmate, which creates a barrier to mental healthcare. This lack of information sharing creates a sense of chaos for citizens going through the criminal justice system as well as for agencies tasked with supporting them in and outside correctional facilities.
Establishing a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council dedicated to sharing information in the name of strategic community-based reform will allow stakeholders get a clear picture of the challenges and opportunities involved in advancing social justice. To support this work, the St. Louis Department of Public Safety will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will analyze data from multiple entities, create data-sharing dashboards, and work toward researching, and instituting a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. The Council will explore local, state, county, and regional criminal justice, and mental health statistics to provide the city with tools to make better recommendations for citizens navigating the criminal justice system.
Project Summary & Potential deliverables
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.
Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will assess the current state of data sharing between the city’s hundreds of entities and individuals, identify inroads and opportunities with existing agencies to better share resources, analyze the city and regional partners’ current IT infrastructure, and learn the legalities around sharing criminal justice data per information-privacy laws. Additionally, the fellow will foster relationships with potential public-and-private-sector partners to help develop a “State of Criminal Justice Data Systems” report based on reviewing existing data usage, integration, and operationalization and identifying how data is used, if at all, in management decision making and cross agency initiatives. From this baseline, the fellow will develop recommendations for the creation of a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council that will allow each agency to make clear and informed decisions to improve outcomes for those navigating the criminal justice system.
The fellow should be a skilled collaborator with experience managing multiple stakeholders in a way that aligns everyone toward the shared goal of increasing social justice in St. Louis. A firm grasp of the challenges involved with protected data in both the healthcare industry and the criminal justice system, a strong understanding of complex and fractured IT infrastructure, and the ability to bring together people with varying points of view will set the fellow up for success to establish data-sharing agreements between multiple public and private agencies. By September 2019, the fellow will ideally have selected and recommended individuals to serve on the forthcoming Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
- Assess current data-sharing model: Investigate the current data-sharing model between St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Missouri State agencies to identify barriers and opportunities. Achieve a firm understanding of the legalities surrounding sharing protected data and conceive workable solutions that allow multiple entities to work in tandem toward the shared goal of advancing social justice.
- Create a “State of Criminal Justice Data Systems” report: Analyze how city and county agencies are currently utilizing crime and mental health data for management insights. Gather a clear picture of how decision makers in the system are using data to drive outcomes and identify areas of improvement. Highlight the report with stakeholders and help them to easily understand where the current system is failing. Demonstrate the value of data sharing, improved management insights and increased cross collaboration between agencies, entities, and individuals and how it will benefit each agency, and more importantly the outcomes for people in the system.
- Identify champions to serve on the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council: Foster relationships with stakeholders, including city and county officials, the REJIS Commission, the state department of mental health, public-and-private-sector partners, and the St. Louis City Council to identify and recruit members to serve on the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Ideally, the council should be ready to convene in September 2019.
- Design data-sharing dashboard: Create, implement, and train stakeholders on a user-friendly data-sharing dashboard geared toward increased collaboration between city and county agencies including: police, probation and parole officers, social workers, the court systems, mental health agencies, etc.
- Jimmie Edwards, Director, Department of Public Safety, City of St. Louis
- Carl Filler, Director of Strategic Policy Initiatives, Office of the Mayor, City of St. Louis
- Daniel Isom, Executive Director, Regional Justice Information System
- Beth Huebner, Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Missouri, St. Louis
- Christine Patterson, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness St. Louis, Community Group
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in executive leadership, IT infrastructure, complex-data analytics, information-privacy law, complex data-system integration, community building, recruiting, and project management.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Strong cross collaboration and negotiation skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status or ethnicity.
- Candidates from the Midwest with knowledge of unintended social-justice consequences permeating mid-sized cities suffering from declining industries, such as manufacturing, are preferred.