(SEATTLE, WA.) -- The Research Network on Misdemeanor
Justice at John
Jay College of Criminal Justice has announced Seattle is one of
six cities selected to join New York City as part of the Network,
according to a statement by Seattle Police.
The Research Network is a national alliance of seven
jurisdictions that will examine trends in the enforcement and
disposition of lower-level offenses at a local level and, for the first
time, at a cross-jurisdictional level.
The Network works with research institutions, data partners
and stakeholders and aims to build data infrastructure at a local
It also seeks to inform smarter criminal justice policies that
enhance public safety, increase public trust in the police, and
implement fiscally responsible policies particularly surrounding
behaviors that involve officer discretion.
The core sites, which are Los Angeles, CA; Toledo, OH; Durham,
NC; Prince George’s County, MD and St. Louis, MO will use data
analytics to inform policy discussions and reform regarding trends in
the enforcement of lower level offenses.
Through a $3.25-million, three-year grant from the Laura and John
Arnold Foundation (LJAF), the Research Network builds upon
the success of the Misdemeanor Justice Project in New York City.
“We are excited to work with the core sites and to help inform
their policy decisions on critical issues regarding the role of the
criminal justice system in responding to low-level misconduct,” said
President Jeremy Travis of John Jay College.
The selection criteria for the six new sites included a
commitment toward evidence-based reform in their local jurisdiction and
the availability of high quality administrative data on arrests for
lower level offenses, summonses, pedestrian stops and case outcome data
including pretrial detention.
The Research Network received 39 proposals. The local research
partners are Seattle University, University of California, Los Angeles,
University of Toledo, North Carolina Central University, University of
Maryland, and University of Missouri – St. Louis.
Enforcement of lower-level offenses has a profound impact on
the criminal justice system. It can overwhelm the courts and delay case
processing, often resulting in large numbers of individuals held on
pretrial detention. It is also this high volume activity that serves as
the basis of public’s opinion of the police and their assessment of the
legitimacy of the criminal justice system.
“The Seattle Police Department uses real-time quantitative and
qualitative data to inform our decision making,” said Seattle Police
Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We appreciate this opportunity to share our
knowledge and learn from our partners while developing effective
strategies to address low-level offenses.”
Seattle’s selection as one of the sites in the Network is
described by SPD as an, "Uunprecedented opportunity to examine trends
in misdemeanor arrests, pretrial detention, and detention in Seattle as
part of a national network of academic-agency partnerships.
Misdemeanors are the largest entry point into the criminal justice
system and what occurs at this stage of the criminal justice process is
critical to increasing capacity for justice and decrease in disparities
in arrest, pretrial detention, conviction, and incarceration."
The Seattle University's Department of Criminal Justice
faculty Drs. Jacqueline Helfgott and William Parkin are partnering with
the Seattle Police Department, Seattle City Attorney’s Office, the City
of Seattle Office of City Auditor, Municipal Court of Seattle, King
County Prosecutor’s Office, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,
and King County Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention for
this three year research collaboration.
The Research Network was launched in 2016 and is based on the
successful experience of the Misdemeanor
Justice Project (MJP), a research initiative at John Jay
College led by Professor Chauhan. With support from the Laura and John
Arnold Foundation, MJP has published a series of reports examining
trends in the enforcement of low-level offenses in New York City and
State including misdemeanor
summonses, and pedestrian
stops as well as jail
These studies have substantially informed criminal justice
reform efforts now underway in New York.