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Evidence-Based Decision Making

Evidence-Based Decision Making

Yamhill County Department of Community Justice

Synopsis: This systems approach considers ways to improve local criminal justice systems and policy through partner collaboration, data collection, and analysis.


Problematic Behavior Or Activity

In 2010, Yamhill County was one of seven sites selected for the National Institution of Corrections (NIC) Evidence-Based Decision Making (EBDM) initiative.

EBDM is a systems approach to consider ways to improve local criminal justice systems and policy through partner collaboration, data collection, and analysis. The EBDM framework is based on four main principles:

  • Look to research and local data to guide making decisions.
  • Every decision (arrest, pretrial release, sentencing, sanction) can promote well-being and help prevent harm.
  • Make shared decisions.
  • Measure results for continued improvement.


Program Description

Yamhill County began its EBDM work by mapping the entire local criminal justice system, from police contact in the community through jail booking/lodging (in cases of arrest), pretrial, the court process, case resolution, and the local community-supervision period until case expiration. As the result of this exercise, the policy team decided to focus on four main areas in which evidence-based practices could make effective and efficient changes:

  • Pretrial
  • Sentencing
  • Mental health; and
  • Correctional programming.

Extensive efforts went into developing an implementation plan of evidence-based practices and data-driven policy changes for each focus area. Upon selection by NIC for Phase III (implementation) of the initiative, the work of the Department of Community Justice focused more directly on SMART Sentencing and pretrial justice.


Program Impact

SMART Sentencing: Since the program’s inception on November 1, 2013, 208 Defendant Analysis Reports (DARs) have been completed, 59 of which were prison-bound cases that received downward dispositional departure probation. As a result, 1,349 prison months were deferred, with only 7 cases being revoked (12 percent) and sent to the Department of Corrections.

Pretrial justice: Since the pretrial justice work began in TK date, Yamhill County has reduced its court failure to appear rate from 17 percent to 4 percent. The county also implemented a court automated-notification system that resulted in approximately 80 percent successful court reminders received. The system is credited for improving court appearance rates in Yamhill County between November 2013 and September 2016, and has a cumulative overall concurrence rate of 87 percent. Additionally, the county’s pretrial jail population has decreased from 45 percent to approximately 35 percent.