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SIG / SIEPR Policy Hackathon

Criminal Justice Reform: Achieving Successful Reentry in California

Saturday, February 23, 2019 • 9:00am-7:30pm

Gunn/SIEPR Building • 366 Galvez St


The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, in partnership with Stanford in Government, is excited to announce Stanford's second annual Policy Hackathon. This competition, open to all undergraduate and coterm students across Stanford University, is intended to foster data-driven policy innovation on key economic and social issues. As the issues and solutions the hackathon will tackle are multi-disciplinary in nature, we encourage students to form diverse teams that leverage multiple majors and skill-sets. Pitches will be judged by an expert panel including representatives from government, the non-profit sector, the business community, and Stanford faculty.

The winning team will receive a $5,000 prize from SIEPR.

The deadline to register is February 14, 2019. Students will form multidisciplinary teams of 4-5. Mentors will be available day of to help students finalize tools, draft policy memos, and prepare pitch decks. If you would like to participate, register your team on the "Team Registration" google sheet.



Questions? Please contact


Event Agenda:


Friday February 15, 2019

4-5 pm: Hackathon Launch Event (DK Room, Haas Center)

Context, prompt, evaluation criteria and background resources for the 2019 Policy Hackathon released on the event website. Representatives from SIG and SIEPR will introduce the prompt and resources and hold Q&A. Watch Video Recording.

Teams encouraged to be begin work on their deliverables which will include a tool, pitch deck, and optional but encouraged policy memo.

Friday February 22, 2019

3-6 pm: Policy Hackathon office hours in SIEPR 224. SIEPR Staff and Predoctoral Fellows available to provide mentorship on data analysis, pitch deck creation, and policy memo writing. RSVP to let us know you’re coming

Saturday February 23, 2019

9:00 am: Check-in and breakfast

9:00 am - 3 pm: Teams finalize their tool, pitch deck, and policy memo at SIEPR. Predoctoral Fellows will be present to provide mentorship on data analysis, pitch deck creation, and policy memo writing.

12 pm: Lunch available

3 pm: Policy memos and tools due via Box submission

3:30 pm: Pitch decks due via Box submission

3:30 - 4:00 pm: Break

4:00 - 6:00 pm: Pitches

6:00 - 7:30 pm: Dinner & Judges deliberate

7:30 pm: Winner announced



Steve Ballmer, Former CEO of Microsoft & Co-Founder, Ballmer Group

Tori Verber Salazar, District Attorney, San Joaquin County

Aly Tamboura, Manager, Technology & Program Delivery, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Robert Weisberg, Professor of Law & Faculty Co-Director, Stanford Criminal Justice Center



A current challenge in criminal justice reform is how to reduce recidivism and increase rates of successful reentry into the general population for formerly incarcerated individuals. In California, 46 percent of adults released from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation institutions during fiscal year 2013-14 were re-convicted within three years of release (source). In addition to reducing rates of re-conviction and return to prison, an important related question is how to increase the proportion of formerly incarcerated individuals who are able to lead productive lives upon returning to the general population.

Strategies for increasing rates of successful reentry in California require thoughtful consideration and analysis especially in the context of criminal justice reforms enacted over the past decade including Realignment (2011), which shifted oversight of many offenders from the state-level to counties, Proposition 36 (2012), which revised California’s three strikes law, Proposition 47 (2014), which reclassified certain drug and property felonies as misdemeanors, and Proposition 57 (2016), which expanded early parole for non-violent offenders participating in educational and rehabilitative programming.



Recommend a policy or program that would increase the rate of successful reentry to the general population of formerly incarcerated individuals in California. You may develop a new policy or program or recommend the expansion or reduction of an existing policy or program.  This policy or program may focus on any aspect of the issue and can involve the private or non-profit sectors, government, or some combination.

Beyond describing the policy or program itself, your proposal must devote significant attention to defining the challenges of achieving successful reentry that the policy or program will address, providing a data-driven analysis of the costs and benefits of your proposal, and placing the proposed policy or program in a broader context of possible action on achieving successful reentry.

Finally, you must create a tool associated with your policy or program. This may be, for example, a technology tool (e.g., website, app, mapping tool) that is used in policy implementation or program delivery or an analysis tool (e.g., Excel model) that leverages data to help design or evaluate your proposal.



(1)  Tool. Technology tool or analysis tool associated with the policy or program. Materials may be submitted in any file format and should indicate the team number in the file name. Multiple files should be submitted as .zip folders.

(2)  Pitch deck & oral presentation. Set of slides accompanying a 5-minute presentation to the judges in which teams will introduce their proposed policy or program, tool, and analysis. Pitch decks must be submitted as PPT or PDF documents.  The first slide must have a title and the names of all team members. Slides decks should contain no more than seven (7) slides. The name of the file should be formatted as follows, replacing XX with the team’s assigned number: TeamXX_slide_deck.pdf (or .ppt)

(3)  Policy memo. Policy memos are an optional but encouraged written deliverable designed to support the content of the oral presentation. Policy memos should be submitted as a PDF, with a title and the names of all team members given at the top of the first page. They should be no more than four (4) single-spaced pages in length, plus references, and may contain tables and figures. Minimum 12 pt font. The name of the file should be formatted as follows, replacing XX with the team’s assigned number: TeamXX_policy_memo.pdf

Policy memos and tools must be submitted by 3pm and pitch decks must be submitted by 3:30pm on Saturday, February 23rd by email attachment to (attachments sent to this address will upload) or via the below Box upload:


Evaluation Criteria:

Teams will be judged on their ability to:

  • Clearly define the challenges of achieving successful reentry that the policy or program will address and identify measures of success
  • Offer an innovative proposal that leverages data, technology, or both
  • Evaluate costs and benefits of the policy or program
  • Place the proposed policy or program in a broader context of possible action on achieving successful reentry. This may include describing the relevant trade-offs of pursuing the proposed action vs. alternatives or assessing the feasibility of implementation from an economic, political, and/or social perspective


Other parameters:

  • Students must work in teams of 4-5. Students who want to participate but do not have a team should self-organize using this Google Sheet.
  • All team members must be enrolled as undergraduate or coterm students at Stanford.
  • Teams are requested to REGISTER for the hackathon by 11:59 pm on Thursday, February 14th using the link at the top of this page. Registration is allowed for teams who miss the registration deadline, subject to space constraints. Email your team registration request to
  • All deliverables must follow the Stanford Honor Code, including proper citation of all sources.
  • All teams will submit a tool, a pitch deck of no more than seven (7) slides, and an optional but encouraged policy memo of no more than four (4) pages on Saturday, February 23rd.
  • All teams will present their slide decks in pitches of up to five minutes to a panel of judges at 4:00pm on Saturday, February 23rd.



Teams may perform data analysis needed for their proposal with any programming software. Should you choose to use Stata, you can download a free copy from this Box folder.


Background References:

Public Policy Institute of California’s Corrections webpage and California's Future: Corrections report

U.S. Department of Justice Roadmap to Reentry; Special Report on Recidivism.

The National Reentry Resource Center

Arango, Tim. “In California, Criminal Justice Reform Offers a Lesson for the Nation” The New York Times. 21 January 2019.

Lagos, Marisa. “Jerry Brown will Leave Lasting Impact on Criminal Justice in California” KQED News. 29 December 2018.

The Marshall Project: Non-profit Journalism About Criminal Justice. See, for example, “How One County Became a Lab for California’s Prison Reform

Doleac, Jennifer L. 2016. “Increasing Employment for Individuals with Criminal Records.” The Hamilton Project.

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing: Use of Criminal HIstory Information in Employment

Doleac, Jennifer L., and Benjamin Hansen. 2018. “The Unintended Consequences of ‘Ban the Box’: Statistical Discrimination and Employment Outcomes When Criminal Histories Are Hidden.”

CCDR’s Reentry services webpage and Recidivism Report

Stanford Criminal Justice Center: Corrections to College California; Project ReMADE

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Justice and Opportunity Initiative

From a Cell to a Home: Newly Released Inmates Matched with Welcoming Hosts. NPR Morning Edition. January 16, 2019.

Chris Wilson interview on The Daily Show. 14 February 2019.

California Prison Downsizing and Police-Community Relationship sessions at the SIEPR Policy Forum on Crime, Policing, and Incarceration


Data Resources:

State & Local Government

California Department of Justice Open Justice Initiative

California Attorney General Crime Data and Criminal Justice Statistics Center

California Board of State and Community Corrections

California Department of Housing and Community Development

State of California Employment Development Department Data Library

State of California Department of Finance Forecasting and Reports

DataSF, DataLA

Federal Government

U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis


Justice Tech Lab

California Sentencing Institute

National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

USA Facts

Opportunity Insights’ Opportunity Atlas