Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government


In June 2008, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) launched the “Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems” initiative. While first developed for local-level implementation, the initiative has since been expanded and adapted to state-level decision making, and is now known as the “Evidence-Based Decision Making in State and Local Criminal Justice Systems” initiative. The goal of the initiative is to build a systemwide framework (arrest through final disposition and discharge) that will result in more collaborative, evidence-based decision making and practices in local criminal justice systems

This document “A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in State and Local Criminal Justice Systems” defines the core principles and action strategies that criminal justice policymakers may employ to reduce the harm to communities caused by crime.

The Framework identifies the key structural elements of a system informed by evidence. It defines a vision of safer communities. It puts forward the belief that risk and harm reduction are fundamental goals of the justice system, and that these can be achieved without sacrificing offender accountability or other important justice system outcomes.

The Framework both acknowledges the importance of the key premises and values underlying our criminal justice system and puts forward a set of principles to guide evidence-based decision making within that context. The principles themselves are evidence-based.

The Framework highlights some of the most groundbreaking research in the justice field—evidence that clearly demonstrates that we can reduce pretrial misconduct and offender recidivism.