CJARS enables breakthrough research on critical questions that could not otherwise be addressed. Major data improvements include following cases across agencies (from arrest through discharge) and supporting integration with extensive individual-level social, demographic, and economic data held by the U.S. Census Bureau.

There is increasing evidence and concern about the extent and intensity of the impact of the U.S. criminal justice system on the individuals and families that interact with it. The inability of researchers to access high-quality population-level data on the criminal justice system has a chilling effect on the types of and amount of research conducted on the system’s impacts.

CJARS is a transformative resource for the next generation of criminal justice research, with widespread benefits to the field of criminal justice and social science research more broadly. No existing repository available to researchers uses (1) multiple data sources with broad geographic coverage to follow individuals from arrest through exit from the criminal justice system; (2) individual-level information at the population level; and (3) extensive information about each individual linked from sources outside the criminal justice system.