CJARS is a data infrastructure initiative at the University of Michigan that seeks to improve public administration of the U.S. criminal justice system through data-driven research and statistical reporting to practitioners.
CJARS is the first integrated national research data repository that follows individual offenses from arrest to charge to conviction to sanction. Data come from multiple stages of the justice system and from a wide range of jurisdictions. In cooperation with the U.S. Census Bureau, our collected records are linked to confidential social, economic, and demographic data held by the federal government to further enhance the value of CJARS.
If your agency is interested in participating in the CJARS project, please contact our team.
Value provided back to providers
CJARS offers the following data and analytical services to participating agencies:
- Statistical reports on caseload composition and outcomes
- Caseload projections and trends analysis
- Program evaluations
- Delivery of harmonized, integrated multi-agency data (criminal justice data only, and only where all parties have agreed to the integration)
Security and confidentiality are fundamental
CJARS has prioritized security and confidentiality:
- IT infrastructure meets the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy
- Research to be conducted on secure federal networks by qualified researchers with Census Bureau-approved projects
- Each agency can review any research proposals to that seek to identify an agency
Administrative data from agencies
CJARS collects records through multiple channels: accessing publicly available databases online, purchasing public information through Freedom of Information Act mechanisms, and engaging agencies directly with data use agreements (DUAs). The mode of collection depends on the local context, but preference is always given to signing DUAs.
CJARS currently hosts data from a number of states and local jurisdictions. At the state level, these are typically correctional population and court records. Data on arrests, bookings, and jail sentences usually must be collected at the substate level.
Currently, CJARS has over 1.7 billion lines of raw data feeding into its data system, which covers 22 million unique individuals from across the United States.