Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice2017-01-03T10:56:52+00:00

Illustrative Projects

Strengthening Our Capacity to Care (SOCC): An Evaluation of an Early Intervention Project for Juvenile Delinquents

Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Methodology: Program Evaluation, Research Design and Quantitative Analysis

PPRI evaluated a diversion program titled “Strengthening Our Capacity to Care (SOCC),” funded by the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission (TJPC). Juvenile delinquents, who had committed minor offenses or were first-time offenders, were diverted to 4H programs supervised by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service staff in 44 counties. Over 400 youth enrolled in the project were included in the evaluation. Data were gathered by the Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) at the time of enrollment and after six months. At the six-month point, about 400 follow-up forms were received and just over 300 instruments were received from the Extension Agents (EA). In addition to basic demographic data and information about offenses, the instruments allowed the JPO and EA to rank the youths’ progress on many outcomes. The EA also provided information about project activities and on the youth’s participation. Project evaluators were interested in determining recidivism (or new referrals to the juvenile authorities) while the youth were enrolled in the SOCC, and its correlates. Additional details about the youths’ participation in SOCC activities were also collected in order to identify significant factors influencing recidivism.

Disproportionate Minority Contact in Juvenile Justice

Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD)

Methodology: Database Management and Quantitative Analysis

In an attempt to understand why minority youth are over represented in the juvenile system in Texas, the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division contracted PPRI to gather and analyze data regarding young offenders. More than 2 million student records over a five-year period were matched against records for more than 90,000 individuals in the Juvenile Probation Commission’s database. Using multivariate statistics, this powerful database made it possible to isolate the factors that best predict juvenile justice contact. Results indicated that a single school discipline incident increased the likelihood of a future justice referral by 23 percent. School discipline involvement is a more powerful predictor than economic status, academic performance, special education status, school attendance, or ethnicity. Findings were presented in invited testimony before the Joint House Committee on Corrections and Public Education.

Criminal Justice Division (CJD) Adult/Victims Grantee Evaluation MIS Systems Project

Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division (CJD)

Methodology: Database Management

With responsibility for administering over $125 million annually in state and federal grant funds, the Office of the Governor has contracted with PPRI for more than a decade to develop and maintain an online information management system. Separate systems have been developed for grants targeting adults or victims, and for those targeting juveniles. CJD grantees use the website to complete required reports and to submit evaluation data regarding program effectiveness. CJD administrators use the site to generate administrative reports, to monitor grantees in need of technical assistance, and to enhance accountability to stakeholders at the federal, state and local levels.

Indigent Defense Evaluation Project

Texas Office of Court Administration

Texas Indigent Defense Commission

Methodology: Database Management

The Texas Legislature established the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to set policies and standards, and to administer funding to provide legal representation for indigent defendants in Texas. In order to track the impact of this initiative on indigent legal practices in the state, PPRI developed and maintains an on-line reporting system which makes extensive information publicly available regarding how indigent defense is funded and delivered in all 254 Texas counties. The reporting system has been acknowledged by national indigent defense advocates like the Texas Appleseed, the Equal Justice Center, and the Center for Justice, Law, and Society at George Mason University for enhancing public accountability and creating opportunity for improvement of indigent defense practices in Texas.


PPRI received the 2015 Michael K. Moore Award – the State Bar of Texas’ highest recognition for research in indigent defense. The award recognized the Institute’s work on the state’s first weighted caseload study recommending the maximum number of clients a court-appointed attorney can defend while still providing reasonably effective representation to low-income defendants. The full report is available here.

Evaluating the Impact of Direct Electronic Filing in Criminal Cases

Texas Office of Court Administration

Texas Indigent Defense Commission

Methodology: Program Evaluation, Qualitative Analysis, Quantitative Analysis and Database Management

A key factor in the cost of criminal case processing is the speed with which the prosecutor determines whether there is sufficient evidence to file charges. Direct filing systems get the necessary information to prosecutors within hours of an arrest so a filing decision can be made promptly and defendants are not needlessly detained. PPRI evaluated the impacts of direct filing in criminal cases using individual-level criminal case processing records for misdemeanor defendants in three of the state’s largest urban jurisdictions (Bexar, El Paso, and Harris Counties). Results showed that direct filing results in fewer jail days, faster case disposition, and significant cost savings to counties.