The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Fresno County

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Fresno County

This page was updated in March 2020 to note the conclusion of the county’s work with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative and in August 2017 to reflect progress in the state. 

A 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling required California to resolve its overcrowded prison system. In response, Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed into law Assembly Bill 109, establishing a set of policies that are commonly referred to as Realignment. This legislation transferred responsibility for more than 60,000 low-risk inmates from the state to its 58 counties and required them to develop facilities, policies, and programs to serve this population. To help identify the most effective and cost-beneficial adult criminal justice programs, the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative partnered with California counties to implement the Results First approach at the local government level.


Fresno County and local criminal justice stakeholders participated in state and national initiatives to develop and implement evidence-based practices that guide decision-making. In January 2014, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a commitment to work with Results First, noting that cost-benefit analysis could assist the county in directing resources to effective programs that will improve public safety and reduce recidivism without additional spending.


Results First worked with staff from the Fresno County Probation Department. With support from county criminal justice agencies and community stakeholders, the County Administrative Office developed an inventory and assessed the benefits and costs of county-operated criminal justice programs.

Policy impact

The criminal justice program inventory gave Fresno leaders a better understanding of the treatment portfolio and assisted probation leaders in their planning to provide effective programs to county citizens. The county also augmented its information technology staff to improve collection of performance data and tracking of outcomes.

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) now supports California counties’ evidence-based policymaking work.