Harris County Task Force to Transform Youth Justice

Policy problem

In 2019, Harris County leaders launched a comprehensive and inclusive strategy to set a new vision and transform justice for young people. As a result, the Harris County Task Force to Transform Youth Justice was convened. The Task Force included juvenile justice experts, government agencies, philanthropists, impacted youth, and community members. This coalition aimed to recommend reforms to all the systems that affect youth, with the goal of preventing delinquency altogether, improving services available to youth and families, and shrinking the juvenile justice system in Harris County. The Texas Policy Lab was invited to provide scientific and data support to the Task Force.

Our approach

The Harris County Youth Justice System is a combination of many complicated decisions that involve multiple stakeholders, such as school officials, case managers, prosecutors, and judges. To ground the Task Force’s discussions on a factual understanding of this complex system, the Texas Policy Lab developed a data dashboard to summarize and quantify the flow of youth through the system. The Task Force envisioned that the use of this dashboard would prompt further data-related questions. Thus, the Texas Policy Lab built capacity to respond to on-demand requests for data analysis.

Results and Impact

The data dashboard was completed, summarizing ten years of HCJPD data in a visual and interactive format that can be previewed in the images below. Even though the Task Force was suspended due to COVID-19, the Texas Policy Lab continues to collaborate with HCJPD to transform the data dashboard into a tool for data access for community members engaged in efforts to reform the Youth Justice System.

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