Justice Outcomes Explorer


Historically, limited data has constrained how policymakers, researchers, and administrators evaluate the U.S. criminal justice system. To increase transparency, we are changing the landscape through the Justice Outcomes Explorer (JOE). JOE is a publicly available dashboard, providing a fresh glimpse into how the criminal legal system reshapes the life trajectories of millions of Americans every year.

Through this new tool, we hope to accomplish a paradigm shift about the justice system: what is knowable, how policymakers gauge success, how researchers study, and how the public learns more.

JOE was built using the most advanced criminal justice data infrastructure currently available: the Criminal Justice Administrative Records System (CJARS). CJARS was linked with an extensive amount of socio-economic data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. This unprecedented integration has created novel statistics available through JOE that help capture the wide-reaching societal impacts of the justice system.

Data scientists and researchers at the University of Michigan and the U.S. Census Bureau built JOE with the goal of revolutionizing research and statistical reporting on the U.S. criminal legal system. Our goal is to create a low-barrier, publicly accessible tool, putting knowledge about the outcomes of justice-involved individuals into the public domain to revolutionize how we define and grade success in the U.S. justice system.

Too often, conversations are had, policy decisions are made, and research is done without the full consideration of the broad ramifications of justice-involvement. Groups such as the National Academies of Sciences point to the lack of data as justification for limited attention paid to collateral consequences. We hope that JOE can change this pattern and meaningfully improve the functioning and impact of the U.S. criminal justice system.

National Science Foundation
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Arnold Ventures
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Any conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the U.S. Census Bureau. All results were approved for release by the Disclosure Review Board of the U.S. Census Bureau (Data Management System number: P-7500378, Disclosure Review Board (DRB) approval numbers: CBDRB-FY23-0516, 9/29/2023.