Our Mission

The mission of the Florida State University Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ) is to advance public safety through evidence-based practices and policies in Florida and beyond. PAJ is a collaborative public policy research laboratory determined to find answers through data and across a spectrum of academic disciplines for practical application in juvenile and criminal justice policy deliberations. With a distinguished Executive Committee guiding the operation, PAJ will facilitate research, public education and dialogue to provide reform options that turn Florida and the nation from a trajectory of expensive and outmoded practices of mass incarceration and poor performance to stopping victimization, turning countless lives around, rebuilding families, saving billions of taxpayer dollars and, ultimately, enhancing safety and vitality in communities across our country.

We believe if it works in Florida, it will work beyond.


Structure to Accomplish the Mission

The Florida State University Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ) is housed at FSU and is a unique partnership between Florida State University, Baylor University’s Program on Prosocial Behavior, the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College, and the Florida Public Safety Institute at Tallahassee Community College. PAJ is governed by an Executive Committee committed to seeking comprehensive and systemic policy solutions that will promote rational justice reforms. The body is actively engaged in the budgeting, planning, governance, and fundraising initiatives of PAJ.

Operating Cornerstones

  1. Fidelity to data;
  2. Transparency of finances; and
  3. Mutual Accountability between partners and the public.

Principles for Criminal and Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Public safety is paramount;
  • Criminal justice systems and participants must be fully accountable;
  • Crime victimization must be reduced;
  • Children in the justice system should be treated differently than adults;
  • Justice includes, along with the traditional concepts of punishment and retribution, the concepts of restorative justice, redemption, education, rehabilitation, and reintegration;
  • Rehabilitation of offenders is essential to family stability, community vitality, and economic growth;
  • Criminal justice systems must seek ways to incentivize good behavior across all participants; and
  • Success in criminal justice is measurable.

PAJ is committed to begin and end all policy deliberations with data and research. This commitment to evidence-based decision making will ensure a neutral voice is helping to drive rational justice reform in and beyond Florida.

To make a difference, Florida’s movement to justice reforms must be grounded in the integrity of data, with rigorous external oversight. And, as such, the research must be built under the neutrality of a consensus building structure – the Switzerland of justice reform.

The scope of the work of PAJ is reflected in a three-point model of evidence-based interventions, with continual feedback and systemic improvement through benchmarking, measurement, data and research:

  1. Narrow the pipeline of inputs into the system through early interventions (especially through reengineering juvenile justice and pretrial approaches);
  2. Refine the rehabilitative approaches within the system (researching, demanding, and, as appropriate, expanding evidence-based decision making for programming);
  3. Limit the high rates of return to the system (respecting victims, reducing recidivism, addressing barriers to re-entry, and enhancing community/family supports and employment opportunities).

PAJ asserts that each of these three key transitional points of the system can be platforms for data-driven approaches designed to drive success in public safety performance: ensuring individuals resist or desist from crime and adopt pro-social behaviors towards productive lives.

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