The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Santa Clara County

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Santa Clara County

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.


In August 2016, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to partner with the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. County leaders committed to use the Results First approach to better understand the evidence behind its currently funded adult criminal justice programs and predict the potential return on investment from these programs and alternatives. In the county’s letter of invitation, Board President Dave Cortese described the partnership as a demonstration “of our commitment to expand the use of evidence-based practices to better serve clients both in custody and in the community.”


The County Executive’s Office, with support from the Probation Department, will manage the county’s Results First efforts and coordinate with other key criminal justice stakeholders. These include the Sheriff’s Office, Probation Department, Superior Court, Reentry Services, district attorney, public defender, and Behavioral Health and Custody Health Services.

Next steps

Santa Clara County staff members have begun building the program inventory and customizing the cost-benefit analysis model. In February 2017, the team presented an interim report to the Board of Supervisors that focused on organizational structure, progress made, and next steps. The team plans to complete its technical efforts during 2017 and provide county leaders with the information they need to identify and invest in programs that will improve public safety and produce a strong return on taxpayer dollars.