Chief Joseph O’Connor
219 Walden Street
P.O. Box 519
Concord, MA 01742
For Immediate Release
Monday, Oct. 31, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Concord Joins White House’s Data-Driven Justice Initiative
CONCORD – Town Manager Christopher Whelan and Police Chief Joseph O’Connor are pleased to announce that the Town of Concord has formally joined the White House-led Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative, focused on reducing the amount of individuals with mental health and addiction diseases who are awaiting trial in local jails.
The DDJ Initiative seeks to reduce unnecessary pre-trial incarceration by enhancing the use of new and existing data, and by helping spread best practices. Nationwide, 64 percent of those being held in local jails suffer from mental illness, while 68 percent have a substance use disorder, and 44 percent suffer from chronic health problems.
In addition, more than 450,000 people are held in jail before trial — nearly 63 percent of the local jail population — even though they have not yet been convicted of a crime, because they cannot afford to be released on bail.
Concord will focus on addressing two key populations: “high-utilizers” (those with serious mental illness, substance abuse and chronic heath problems who repeatedly cycle through jails, hospital emergency rooms, shelters and others), along with people held in jail because they cannot afford to be released on bail.
“We are proud to stand with the White House on this initiative to help our community address the many facets and challenges of mental illness and addiction,” Town Manager Whelan said. “We will work diligently to ensure that those who are in need of help, get it.”
Led by Chief O’Connor, the town will focus on three key strategies:
- Creating or expanding local data exchanges that combine justice, health or other system data to enable identification of high users.
- Diverting those with mental illness, along with those who have committed low-level crimes, primarily due to mental illness, from the criminal justice system prior to arrest and linking them to care management and other community-based services.
- Implementing data-driven risk assessment tools to ensure pre-trial decisions are informed by validated methods of gauging defendants’ risk to the community, not by their ability to make bail.
“We’re committed to providing help and resources to residents struggling with the disease of addiction, or those with mental illnesses,” Chief O’Connor said. “By taking a proactive approach to these situations, we hope to reduce the rate of incarceration among low-level offenders while increasing safety in our community.”