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Criminal Justice

Research and Evaluation Projects

The following is a list of current and ongoing projects:

San Diego Promise Neighborhood is the second Promise Neighborhood site in San Diego County. Funded through a U.S Department of Education Grant to South Bay Community Services, which is administering the grant funds as well as partnering community-organizations and schools in the target areas. This is a place-based “cradle to career” initiative implemented by the local community-based organizations in partnership with the schools in the San Ysidro and Barrio Logan neighborhoods. Data is the driving force for model design, program implementation, and monitoring. The Applied Research Division will work closely with partners to ensure all data elements are gathered and analyzed to inform project partners and residents of progress.

CAT+: SANDAG is partnering with San Diego Youth Services to conduct a rigorous process and impact replication study of Reducing the Risk,  a curriculum designed to build skills to prevent pregnancy, HIV, and STDs. The curriculum is being implemented countywide by five community-based agencies. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health, this five-year project involves an experimental design to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum among high-risk youth in schools and at community-based agencies. SANDAG will follow-up on participants up to two years after intake, with data collection ending in 2015. 

CHULA VISTA PROMISE NEIGHBORHOODS: Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood is one of seven sites in the U.S. awarded a 2012 implementation grant. In December 2012, the U.S. Dept. of Education awarded South Bay Community Services $27.8 million over five years to implement their “cradle to career” place-based model in the Castle Park Neighborhood. The project is a comprehensive initiative designed to inspire children in the neighborhood to stay in school and aspire to college and a career track. It will provide parents with resources to overcome barriers and support their child’s success. The CJRD conducted a comprehensive needs assessment for the planning grant in early 2012 and will continue to be the research partner over the course of the five-year implementation grant.

CRIME: Ongoing assessment of crime trends and geographic crime patterns, analysis of SAM data, and outreach to community. Funding Source: SANDAG Member Agencies.

CVPD: In 2019, SANDAG conducted a random survey of Chula Vista residents regarding their perception of safety, current concerns, and satisfaction with police services. This was the sixth time SANDAG has conducted this survey, following the most recent in 2007.

JJCPA: Evaluation of various probation programs in San Diego County. Funding Source: San Diego County Probation Department. 

PROJECT LIFE: SANDAG is partnering with North County Lifeline’s Project LIFE (Living in Freedom from Exploitation) under a contract with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime to provide specialized services to victims of human trafficking.

PROP 47: This project serves adults who have been cited, arrested, booked into jail, and/or charged or convicted of a misdemeanor offense (i.e., either a Prop. 47 eligible or a quality of life offense) by connecting them to comprehensive substance use disorder treatment, housing (when needed) and a range of supportive services (e.g., job training, transportation, mental health, educational services).

RRED: RRED (Reducing Racial and Ethnic Discrepancies) is a post-hoc study of juvenile justice system contacts (e.g. referrals to probation, bookings, true findings) to evaluate if different races and ethnicities are disproportionately involved in the system. The purpose of this study  is to inform future juvenile justice system management decisions to continue to eliminate disparities. A legacy study was completed by SANDAG,  Disproportionate Minority Contact (2008).

SAM: Administer Substance Abuse Monitoring (SAM) project, which tests adult and juvenile arrestees for recent drug use.  Funding Source: Multiple. 

S.T.A.R.: The S.T.A.R. project aims to implement a collaborative public health and public safety enhanced Probation supervision strategy based on the latest evidence-based practice research with the goal of increasing the success of supervising high-risk offenders, especially those who exhibit AOD and/or mental health issues, to reduce revocations and recidivism.

Past Projects

AB 109: SANDAG is evaluating the impact of realignment on local public safety agencies.

ALTERNATIVES TO DETENTION: The Alternatives to Detention (ATD) project will provide a continuum of enhanced community-based and family-supported detention alternatives for youth who have been arrested and charged, yet do not require secure detention because of low risk or no danger to the community. SANDAG is conducting  a process and outcome evaluation of the ATD program, which is being implemented and managed by the County of San Diego Probation Department and its partners.

CalGRIP: In 2011, the San Diego Police Department received a second round of CalGRIP (Gang Reduction, Intervention, and Prevention) funds to address the issue of gangs in the Mid-City and Southeast areas of the City of San Diego. The project combined gang suppression operations with prevention services provided by San Diego City’s Parks and Recreation Department in the form of extended hours of recreation centers and intervention services provided by METRO United to gang-involved youth. SANDAG was tasked with collecting and reporting on the outcome measures. Data collection included treatment tracking, youth participation and satisfaction with services, violent crime in the target areas, and a police perception survey. Data was analyzed and summarized in a final report presented to the Gang Commission in 2013.

SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY JUSTICE INITIATIVE: With funding from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, the San Diego City Attorney's Office plans to expand the San Diego Community Justice Initiative program by assessing clients on their risk and needs, better linking clients to service providers, strengthening the current documentation effort to ensure decisions and strategies are informed by data, and engaging with the community to a greater degree to ensure restorative justice.

CROSS BORDER TASK FORCE EVALUATION: An evaluation of Chula Vista Police Department and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department efforts aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of combating criminal narcotics activity along the U.S.-Mexico border. Funding Source: U.S. Department of Justice. 

FOSTERING YOUTH INDEPENDENCE MENTORING PROGRAM: SANDAG is providing grant support for a San Diego Youth Services program designed to engage youth in foster care with qualified mentors. The goals of the program are to reduce delinquency, improve school attendance, reduce placement disruptions, and help youth transition successfully out of the foster care system. Funding Source: San Diego Youth Services.

GRAFFITI TRACKER EVALUATION: As law enforcement agencies across San Diego County implement Graffiti Tracker technology to better document graffiti and identify and convict the most prolific offenders regionally, SANDAG conducted an evaluation to determine how implementation varies across the region and what the impact was for the four agencies. Funding Source: SANDAG.

MENTALLY ILL OFFENDER CRME REDUCTION PROJECT: With funding received from the State Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant (MIOCR), the San Diego County Probation Department's Screening, Assessment, and Services for Traumatized Mentally Ill (SAST) project will enhance the service array for youth who are either involved in the juvenile justice system or at-risk of involvement. The SAST project will  identify and proactively work with juvenile offenders who have a dual need for services that address trauma and mental illness. Trauma-informed, evidence-based interventions will achieve better outcomes and reduced recidivism for these youth. SANDAG has been selected as the outside evaluator responsible for conducting the process and outcome evaluation.

In 2012, the San Diego County Department of Child Support Services (SDDCSS) applied for and received a grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to implement the PTOC Project. To meet the overarching goals of strengthening the emotional and financial well-being of children and families by ensuring that consistent child support payments were made and time spent between parents and their children was maximized, the PTOC project combined the processes of establishing parenting time orders in conjunction with child support orders. The Criminal Justice Research Division was selected by the SDDCSS to complete the process and impact evaluation to provide valid and reliable information on program implementation and to track outcomes. The final report is available, as well as a one-page infographic describing key results from the PTOC’s domestic violence component.

PATHWAYS OF HIGH-RISK YOUTH: SANDAG is conducting a two-year study in collaboration with the San Diego County Probation Department and The Children’s Initiative to examine factors contributing to youth most entrenched in the juvenile justice system. The purpose of this research is to determine if predictable opportunities for earlier intervention were missed that could have prevented escalation in the system. SANDAG will share study findings with all participating agencies, as well as the newly formed Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) as it becomes responsible for all federal and state juvenile justice reform efforts and overseeing and distributing federal and state funds targeted to juvenile justice.

PROJECT SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS RESEARCH PARTNER: Worked with the U.S. Attorney’s office and other federal, state, and local partners to document gun-related crime in the region. Funding Source: U.S. Department of Justice.

SAN DIEGO SMART POLICING INITIATIVE EVALUATION: SANDAG worked with the San Diego Police Department to evaluate a multi-faceted project that combined intelligence-led policing, predictive analysis, and crime prevention to sever the link between criminal organizations and populations at risk of being recruited into these organizations. Funding Source: San Diego Police Department.

SMART PROBATION: To assist the San Diego County Probation Department in measuring its adoption of evidence-based practices (EBP) in the Post-Release Offender (PRO) Division, SANDAG was contracted to evaluate how effectively and to what extent Probation implemented the four components of EBP.

SB 618: San Diego County Prisoner Reentry Project: Evaluation of local collaboration to provide better reentry services to state inmates returning to the County. The final report is currently available. Funding Source: State of California.

SB 678: The California Community Corrections Intensive Probation Services Act of 2009 funds probation departments to reduce the number of adult probationers revoked from probation and sentenced to prison. SANDAG will conduct a process and impact evaluation of the San Diego County Probation Department’s efforts to increase the use of evidence-based practices in its supervision of offenders under high-risk supervision. As part of this evaluation, the use of incentives and sanctions will be documented, along with service delivery, and recidivism rates for three years will be tracked. Outcome measures will be tracked for offenders in a baseline period, compared to two years after implementation and a cost-analysis will also be included. 

TITLE V DISPROPORTIONATE MINORITY CONTACT: The purpose of this evaluation is to identify the factors contributing to truancy and school discipline problems at three target schools in the San Diego Unified School District and develop recommendations to address those factors. Funding Source: San Diego County Probation Department. 

VETERANS MOVING FORWARD: The San Diego Sheriff’s Department and VA San Diego Healthcare System partnered in 2013 to create a special housing unit at the Vista Detention Facility to provide military veterans with a higher level of programming designed to both address common issues found in this population and reduce recidivism. Under a National Institute of Justice grant lasting through 2017, SANDAG has been selected as the research partner to conduct a formal process and impact evaluation of the VMF program.

Vista CalGRIP: The City of Vista received a three-year State Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP) grant and SANDAG is conducting the process and impact evaluation. VGRIP utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach of prevention, intervention, and suppression to reduce the likelihood of youth joining or leaving gangs, as well as reducing gang activity.

Project Manager

Dr. Cynthia Burke, Director, Research and Program Management
Phone: (619) 699-1910, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or