Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Group of people standing in a conference room

When it comes to changing the mindsets and behaviors of people involved in the criminal justice system, we know that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. That’s why we’re changing the way we do business. In order to get the best results — to send people back out into the community better than they were when they came to us — we need to tailor our approach to the particular needs and strengths of each offender. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) will help us get there.

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is a way to give Missourians involved in the criminal justice system the tools they need to stay out of prison. With the money saved by incarcerating fewer people, the state can reinvest funds in programs that help to reduce crime and recidivism, making Missouri safer.


In 2017, Missouri faced several criminal justice challenges, including rising violent crime rates and prison overcrowding. The bipartisan Missouri State Justice Reinvestment Task Force — which included state and local criminal justice system stakeholders —was formed to address the issues. The task force worked with the nonpartisan, nonprofit Council of State Governments to gather and analyze Missouri criminal justice data. The council came away with several key findings. In 2017, Missouri had:

  • The eighth-highest incarceration rate in the United States
  • The fastest-growing female prison population in the United States
  • An increasing violent crime rate but a decrease in violent crime arrests
  • Insufficient behavioral health resources
  • A high rate of prison admissions driven by factors other than new crimes; about half of new admissions were for technical violations of probation or parole

The task force worked with the Council of State Governments Justice Center staff to review analyses and develop policies and strategies to reduce violent crime, improve community-based treatment, reduce recidivism and increase public safety. Many of these policies are reflected in House Bill 1355, which was signed into law in June 2018.

What Justice Reinvestment Means for the Missouri Department of Corrections

  • Commitment to evidence-based practices in corrections will improve how we assess offenders, build better case management plans, respond to positive and negative behavior, and equip staff with better programming and tools to reduce risk—all of which will enhance the chances of offender success.
  • Offender success equals positive behavior in our facilities and reduced technical violations in the community.  Improving lives not only makes communities safer, but saves correctional dollars.

The Main Changes

  • The Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS) was adopted department-wide to assess offenders, target interventions, and inform responses to behavior.
  • Treatment Pilots in Boone, Buchanan and Butler counties have been launched to provide intensive substance use disorder treatment services and to address barriers to treatment retention for offenders at the highest risk of incarceration.
  • Community Supervision Centers (CSCs) were re-designed to target residential placement at the CSC for high risk clients in the CSC catchment area, who are in need of intensive programming in several criminogenic domain areas, and for whom traditional supervision in the community has been unsuccessful.
  • The District 26 Community Supervision Center transitioned to an all-female facility with program delivery that is both gender-responsive and trauma informed, to better serve women under supervision in a rehabilitative environment with the aim of reducing the number of women who are being incarcerated at an increasingly high rate.
  • The ORAS Tools and Case Plan will be automated, and will be shared by all divisions.  Case Managers and P&P Officers will be able to follow the assessment and case planning activities across the spectrum of incarceration, release planning, and field supervision.
  • The Carey Group will deliver training to DAI and P&P supervisors and managers in Case Management and Planning to equip supervisors with the tools they need to support officers and case managers in the areas of assessment, case planning, and quality assurance.
  • The Carey Group will also deliver case management and planning to Case Managers and Probation and Parole Officers. 
  • Carey Guides and BITS tools will be adopted department-wide.  These are guided intervention/skill practice worksheets that staff can use to address certain behaviors and case plan goals, which will be accessible through an intranet link (BITS) and embedded in the University of Cincinnati (ORAS) Case Planning web application.
  • The Case Management and Planning team defined expectations for initial assessment and case planning, program placement, and the use of incentives and sanctions in responding to offender behavior, for both P&P and DAI.
  • J-Pay tablets have been distributed to DAI offenders and currently allow offenders access to e-mail. In the near future, the tablets will allow access to other media and other applications based on offender behavior, at no cost to the department. The DAI Incentive Guide will provide a consistent menu of incentives that may be offered within the prison setting to motivate incarcerated offenders to demonstrate positive behavior.
  • The DAI Offender Accountability procedure revised the conduct violation process in DAI and was rolled out to staff May 1, 2019. 
  • The Missouri Offender Management Matrix will tie desired and undesired behaviors to the criminogenic domains of the ORAS, and will provide a selection of appropriate responses to behavior based on the overall risk level for offenders under probation or parole supervision.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Intervention programming will be piloted at several DAI and P&P locations. CBI-Substance Abuse is targeted for launch at CCC, MECC and SCCC, Decision Points is currently being implemented at the following locations for pilot: all male CSCs, Districts 38, EP and 7C, Moving On will be adopted at the female CSC and female DAI locations. These programs are designed to address specific criminogenic risk areas identified by the assessment, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach for the department.
  • The Difficult Discharge and Transitional Housing Unit teams have proposed recommendations to ensure timely assessment, identification and transition planning occur in support of addressing barriers to successful community reentry.  These recommendations define the role of case management, clinical, and institutional parole staff in developing strong connections to needed resources in the field.
  • The Institutional Parole Officer (IPO) role team has identified strategies to reduce duplicative workload, while continuing to provide critical information to the Parole Board in support of release decision-making and strengthening the vital role the IPO plays in connecting offenders leaving a DAI facility to employment, housing, and supervision resources prior to release.
  • The Parole Board is pursuing the adoption of parole guidelines which incorporate the ORAS instrument as well as criteria to evaluate release readiness over several additional evidence-based factors thru a technical assistance project with the National Institute of Corrections.
  • A Justice Program Assessment project will provide a comprehensive analysis of current programming within DAI facilities to determine what existing or proposed programming best supports the Department of Corrections’ strategy to improve behavior within our facilities and reduce risk of offenders returning to the community.

Since summer 2018, the Missouri Department of Corrections has worked with state and local agencies to implement these policies. Here are some updates:

Treatment Pilot Program

In September 2018, the Justice Reinvestment Treatment Pilots (JRITP) in Boone, Buchanan and Butler counties began accepting referrals. This joint project between Probation & Parole (P&P) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH) provides substance use and co-occurring disorder treatment to high- and moderate-risk clients who face challenges remaining engaged in community treatment. Missourians in these counties are currently being treated by teams of providers. The pilot program:

  • Involves frequent case staff collaboration between supervising officers and providers
  • Allows payment for services to address barriers to treatment, such as housing, employment or other basic needs
  • Provides performance-driven payment incentives when outcomes in housing and employment stability, retention in treatment, and diversion from revocation are favorable.

Community Supervision Centers

Community supervision centers (CSCs) transitioned to the “CSC Repurpose Model.” The four-phase model targets high-risk clients who need intensive programming in several areas and who are at risk of revocation. It focuses on incentives and sanctions as clients complete each of the four phases, with the referring Probation and Parole officer supervising the client while he or she is a CSC resident. 

Programs are targeted to each client’s assessed needs. Clients must complete core programming components before they can receive passes into the community for employment or other purposes.

In November 2018, the District 23 Community Supervision Center in Kennett transitioned to the repurpose model. District 12 (Farmington) and District 25 (Poplar Bluff) transitioned in January 2019. Districts 1 (St. Joseph), 3 (Hannibal) and 26 (Fulton) transitioned in February 2019. 

District 26 CSC is an all-female facility and will focus on gender-responsive and trauma-informed approaches to program delivery.

Carey Guides & BITS

In March 2019, Probation & Parole and Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) supervisors attended case management and planning for managers and supervisors with the Carey Group. The Carey Group also will train staff to train the department in the use of Carey Guides and Brief Intervention Tools (BITS), which are guided intervention/skill practice worksheets staff can use with clients to address certain behaviors and case plan goals. These will be accessible online and embedded in the case planning web application. End user training on Carey Guides and BITS will occur after June 2019. The Carey Group will provide training in case management and planning and train staff to train the remaining Case Managers and Probation and Parole officers.

Verified Risk Assessment Tool

The Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS is a dynamic risk/needs assessment system to be used with adult offenders. This validated instrument helps us to identify factors that drive a person toward negative or criminal behaviors and also to determine each person’s risk of reoffending. The valuable information collected can help ensure that we invest proportionate attention and appropriate resources in the moderate-risk and high-risk offenders who need them the most. The ORAS is being adopted department-wide to assess offenders, target interventions and inform responses to behavior. It helps us tailor the work we do to improve each Missourian’s life. Implementation of the ORAS in all areas of the Missouri Department of Corrections took place June 1, 2019

Justice Program Assessment

The Council of State Governments will complete a Justice Program Assessment (JPA) as part Phase II of Justice Reinvestment by December 2019. The assessment provides a comprehensive analysis of current programming in the Division of Adult Institutions to determine what should be retained and what should be replaced with evidence-based interventions more suited to Missouri’s needs.