A Case Study on Improved Efficiency and Saving $36M
Allegheny County implemented a criminal justice project to experiment with remote booking facilities; it failed due to poor planning and a history of political involvement in justice system issues. The county jail and city police had just concluded major federal litigation involving excessive use of force, inadequate medical services, and unconstitutional jail conditions An expensive new jail with extremely high life cycle costs was being planned to alleviate jail crowding, yet funds were already shrinking and justice expenditures expected to rise substantially. Collaboration between the various criminal justice leaders was required, but partisanship was divisive.
ILPP was selected at the inception to build a common vision and process for a newly created Advisory Board. Dr. Kalmanoff and ILPP team contended with the individualistic culture by brokering agreements to collaborate without fear of media scrutiny, working closely with high-level judiciary and executive staff to develop a progressive strategic plan, and facilitating bimonthly meetings to move an agenda for data based management forward. ILPP also facilitated subgroups of the Board and implementation teams to provide best-practice input.
ILPP’s strength was in creating a network of support for the best interests of the Board. ILPP has interfaced with the city, department of human services, state funding commissions, and other partners of the justice system on behalf of CJAB to solicit support. ILPP has also promoted CJAB’s accomplishments on a national level.
The Outcome: A Record of Success
Once considered a backward justice system, Allegheny County was featured twice by National Association of Counties (NACo), and by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), as one of the top performing and most cost-effective systems in the country. ILPP’s development of the Board has been a widely-recognized success story, credited with saving tens of millions while prioritizing public safety. ILPP received high ratings on providing effective support to Allegheny County at a good value.
ILPP has been invited back to Allegheny County for eight years at a cost of less than $500,000, and both savings and cost avoidance in excess of $30M.
The following page outlines several initiatives undertaken by the Advisory Board. A list of best-practice memos and reports drafted by ILPP on behalf of the CJAB follows.
Contact: Alan Kalmanoff, Executive Director
A Selection of Allegheny CJAB Successes
Recognition by the National Association of Counties and PA Grants Commission
ILPP convened an advisory board of gatekeepers with established norms and clear roles, productive functions, and credibility with funding sources. The informal nature of the Board allows flexible membership, which shifts with its dynamic, progressive objectives and strengthens despite elections that bring in new President Judges, County Executives, and other key stakeholders. The Board serves as a model across the state and nationally.
Information Technology Strategic Planning
The concept developed by ILPP and the Board, and supported by the diligent work of information technology staff, resulted in the birth of an integrated database system that will track the flow of each offender from arrest to disposition. Eventually, benchmarking and tracking through customized management reports will be fully developed.
- Interoperability: Developing the concept and methods of sharing information across diverse record management systems.
- Allegheny Standard Arrest Program: A home-grown program catering to local needs.
- Mobile data terminals and video arraignments – Maximizing the use of scarce personnel resources.
ILPP assessed and authored reports that instigated major reforms in process and program in various departments. The analyses ran from management and staffing to policies and procedures that would bring departments in line with best-practice, nationally and in comparable jurisdictions.
- Pretrial Services, in parallel with the Probation Department
- Jail Intake
- Public Defense
Chronic Offender Studies
The CJAB has conducted various profile studies on recidivism to identify offenders who continually cycle through the jail and incur inordinate costs in time and energy. Smaller studies focusing on subpopulations, such as offenders with mental health issues, have facilitated brainstorming and implementation of initiatives to reduce this caseload.
- Development of a Crisis Intervention Training Center
- Partnerships with community corrections
- Alternatives to custody through continuum of sanctions
ILPP Publications for Allegheny County CJAB
- Chronic Offenders
- Failure to Appear Solutions
- Proposed Policies for Alleviating the Impact of Probation Detainers on the Allegheny County Jail
- Child Dependency Due to Arrest of Parent or Legal Guardian
- Information Systems Integration
- Addendum: Information Systems Integration
- Initial Process of Offenders in Allegheny
- The IT Environment for Strategic Planning
- Jail Reduction Strategies
- Pretrial Services
- Analysis of the Allegheny County Jail
- Probation Department Assessment
- Report on the Pre-Trial Services Program
- Proposal for a Criminal Justice System Assessment