Overview

The Criminal Justice Administrative Records System (CJARS) is creating a nationally integrated repository of data following individuals through the criminal justice system.

Since its founding in 2016, CJARS has collected tens of millions of records from more than a dozen states. We are currently working to expand our data partnerships to increase geographic, jurisdictional, and criminal justice procedural coverage. We aim to build a database that follows every criminal episode from arrest to final sanction.

Our staff have implemented and are continuing to develop new methods to harmonize and link records, so that life course interactions with the criminal justice system can be studied. In partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, these data have been linked with survey and administrative records from many social and economic domains.

The project is designed to be sustainable from its foundation, providing value to all participants. Data providers receive reports using linked data, including on non-criminal justice outcomes, to facilitate public administration. The federal statistical system is able to improve its operations and data quality related to the criminal justice system. Researchers will gain access to a uniform data infrastructure, and their research will ultimately better inform policymakers about how the criminal justice system functions.

The CJARS project is currently funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Pilot funding came from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the University of Michigan.