By Amalia Mejia.

County criminal justice leaders have a new destination for evidence-based programming support and technical assistance, called the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Support Hub for Criminal Justice Programming.

This Hub connects counties with a spectrum of services to support leaders in their decision making process and the assessment of local systems in addition to criminal justice programs. A free service for counties looking to build staff capacity, the Hub helps counties use data to make informed decisions that can become small changes in programs or policy changes like defining terms, funding protocols or performance based contracting.

“You never have enough resources to do everything you wish you could,” said Susan Mauriello, Chief Administrative Officer for Santa Cruz County (retired). “We can make better choices for our community when we use empirical information rather than gut instinct.”

The CSAC Support Hub incorporates the Results First approach championed by the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, which helps incorporate the best available research into decisions about program investments. The Support Hub also includes access to a range of tools to support counties’ needs at different levels of engagement, ranging from a comprehensive application of the Results First approach (high) to Evidence-Based Programming Training Workshops (low).

Since launching the CSAC-Results First Initiative four years ago, the staff and consultants have provided intensive and tailored technical assistance to help partner counties build capacity to:

  • Create a comprehensive inventory of currently funded programs, including an assessment of the evidence for each program’s effectiveness;
  • Build a customized benefit-cost model and conduct analysis to compare programs’ likely return on investment; and
  • Use evidence to inform spending and policy decisions.

“The program inventory really gave us a tool to collectively pull together a comprehensive list of services we were providing,” said Buu Thai, program manager for Santa Clara Office of Data Oversight, Management & Evaluation. “That alone was a great tool.”

This technical assistance and support hub have been well received by counties willing to invest the time to maximize limited criminal justice resources and programming.

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Originally posted at the California State Association of Counties.