What We Do


Every community in the nation uses data and research as the basis of a shared vision for how to achieve public safety in a manner that is just, equitable and increases trust and confidence in the criminal justice system.


To raise important questions and share critical research about frequent interactions between community members and the criminal justice system. This encompasses enforcement and supervision in the community, the adjudication of cases in the courts, and the use of confinement in jails and prisons.


Our work ensures that communities, and the governments that serve them, have the necessary information to develop and implement evidence-based policies, practices, and programs. Our data based, collaborative approach to justice is making an impact by:


Inspiring Community Collaboration:  Through our Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice, researchers are collaborating with governments across the country to leverage data analytics to inform policy conversations and reform regarding the enforcement of lower-level offenses.  Through this alliance, the Research Network will produce, for the first time, multi-site studies on common challenges surrounding lower-level offenses (e.g., case processing, warrants).


Informing Policy Change:  Our research and reports have provided data that informed a variety of policy changes, including:

  • A law allowing New York City police officers to issue a civil summons, rather than a criminal one, for offenses such as public urination and public drinking.
  • District attorneys in four New York City boroughs collectively dismissed over 600,000 warrants for charges that would otherwise merit little more than a fine.
  • New York Police Department’s decision to issue criminal summonses in lieu of arrests for most marijuana possession offenses, including smoking in public.


Influencing Public Discourse:  Our work has been cited in a variety of influential media outlets including mainstream media (The New York Times, New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Guardian), criminal justice media (The Crime Report, The Chief, The New York Law Journal), and other influential outlets within their respective fields (Inside Philanthropy, City Limits).


Raising Important Questions:  In 2018, MJP put together a special issue of Criminal Justice Policy Review focused exclusively on the criminal justice system’s response to lower-level offenses. The special issue papers focused attention on unanswered questions regarding the role of police discretion in enforcement, the processing of lower-level cases through the courts, the prevalence of pretrial detention, and the impacts of lower-level offenses on individuals and communities.



In 2013, the Misdemeanor Justice Project launched at John Jay College of Criminal Justice with the mission of documenting trends in misdemeanor arrests and other lower-level enforcement activities — a critical and understudied component of the criminal justice system.  MJP has partnered with state and local agencies in New York to publish reports on topics including misdemeanors, summonses, pedestrian stops and jail admissions.  In 2019, the Data Collaborative for Justice was launched to encompass the work of the Misdemeanor Justice Project and our expanding portfolio of analyses, evaluation, and partnerships around the nation. DCJ will continue to broaden our understanding of those frequent interactions between community members and the criminal justice system that can have significant implications for police-community relations, trust and confidence in the criminal justice system more broadly, racial justice, economic justice, government efficiency, and public safety.



LEARN: We collaborate with our partners, including government agencies, researchers, and practitioners, to collect, clean and understand data relevant to the operations of the criminal justice system. We then publish critical data and research to educate the public, policymakers, service providers, the press, advocates and researchers as well support informed dialogue regarding key questions in criminal justice.

MODEL: We depend on the trusted relationships we build with key stakeholders to ensure the reliability of our data, identify new pathways of research, and build a larger body of data and research around criminal justice touchpoints. Our work includes replicating and disseminating this model of collaborative partnerships between independent researchers and government to produce key data in support of evidence-based criminal justice policy and operations.

INSPIRE:  We create real impact that provides an empirical framework for evidence-based policy reform and informs the national discourse on how to produce safety and justice for all communities. We do this by raising the right questions at the right time with the right people, and using our data, partnerships and platform to spotlight promising initiatives.