Introducing the Justice & Health Connect Toolkit

The Justice and Health Connect Toolkit provides a framework for planning, implementing and sustaining interagency collaboration between justice and health systems.  The toolkit is organized into four modules, describing the steps to setting up information sharing initiatives. While the toolkit is presented in a linear format, we encourage you to explore the different sections as your information sharing initiative evolves and progresses based on your interests and needs.

Wherever possible, the toolkit references real-world examples of jurisdictions that have adopted effective approaches to address information sharing challenges, accessible summaries of the research literature, and examples of best practices. In this way, the toolkit provides a different way of accessing information included in the resource library. If you still cannot find what you are looking for or have feedback on the toolkit, contact the Justice and Health Connect Team.


Module 2: Governance


While nuts-and-bolts decisions about how to comply with legal regulations, improve the information infrastructure, and keep data secure are critical, frequently, the most difficult aspect of information sharing is the human dimension–—getting people to agree to share information and ensuring that an initial enthusiasm translates into a sustained commitment to work together. Once you and your partners have agreed on the aims and objectives of your information sharing initiative, it is essential to develop a well-defined governance structure in order to realize your shared mission.

A governance framework for information sharing initiatives typically: a) states the mission and responsibilities of the interorganizational partnership; b) assigns responsibility for management and oversight of the initiative; c) defines the roles and responsibilities of the partner organizations; and d) lays out a process for monitoring the progress of the group or amending any responsibilities. Frameworks can also include methods for financing the activities of the group and measures for ensuring accountability.

This module describes the use of governing bodies, information sharing agreements and executive orders to fulfill these functions and solidify cooperation between agencies.

A. Establish a Governing Body

Establishing a governing body to oversee and manage the activities of an initiative is a key component of governance. Governing bodies that meet on a regular basis are important for engaging and maintaining organizational members’ interest, providing a forum for discussing progress and trouble-shooting emergent problems, facilitating collaborative decision making, and assessing project implementation.

Establishing a governing body with fiduciary responsibility is also important for securing funding and allocating resources to sustain and implement an initiative. Governing bodies typically consist of leaders from stakeholder groups and members typically have executive-level authority to make key decisions and ensure that those decisions produce the intended actions. Giving each agency a voice in the governing body can help sustain buy-in and provide a venue for addressing any conflicts that may arise.

Pennsylvania Justice Network (J-NET) Steering Committee

 J-NET is a statewide system for information sharing among public safety agencies. The J-NET Steering Committee, which consists of members of 16 state agencies, was established to develop “a tactical plan for the deployment of JNET Project functionality and associated information sharing requirements.” Click here to read more about J-NET’s governance model.

Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC): Salt Lake City, Utah.

Salt Lake County’s CJAC is a governing body with members from  city, county and state criminal justice, social service, and public health agencies, as well as elected officials, that was established to oversee and coordinate several interagency initiatives aimed at reducing crime and promoting social justice. A well-balanced composition of executive leaders and agency stakeholders makes CJAC well placed for effective governance, and to achieve their stated mission: “implementing effective and efficient methods of reducing recidivism and promoting crime prevention through collaboration and coordination.”

B. Set the Parameters

Information sharing agreements (or memoranda of understanding) set the parameters and specifications of an information sharing arrangement between agencies. These documents help solidify interagency collaborations by explicitly documenting the shared purpose of data sharing, defining individual and collective responsibilities of the participating agencies, and setting a planned course of action to monitor implementation and address conflicts that may arise. An initial agreement between partner agencies can also provide the foundation for more detailed legal documents describing the type of information that will be shared, in what circumstances, and the protections required to safeguard against unauthorized disclosure of protected information (see Module 3 on legal and ethical regulations).

Components of Information sharing agreement. No Hyphen

Examples of Justice-Health Information Sharing Agreements

Click here for an agreement between state health and justice agencies for sharing confidential substance use, mental health, and primary health care information to promote the coordination of care for people treated in Connecticut’s publicly funded behavioral health system.

Click here to access an information sharing agreement between the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the Health and Human Services Commission, Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Centers, and Community Supervision and Corrections Departments

Kings County, Washington
Click here to access a sample interagency agreement on information sharing produced by the King County Systems Integration Initiative to coordinate services for children and families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Search the JH Connect Resource Library for more information-sharing agreements.

C. Consider Executive Orders

An executive order is a rule issued by an executive branch of government, including governors, mayors, and commissioners of administrative agencies. They have the force of law and are commonly used to provide necessary authorization for interagency data sharing, to provide a statement of purpose to guide coordination among separate agencies, and to set transparency and accountability mechanisms. Many state governments use executive orders to establish governing bodies and require agencies to collaborate.

Executive Orders for Interagency Data Sharing

New York City: HHS Connect
Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued Executive Order No. 114 to set the foundation for a more connected human-service sector in New York City through interagency information sharing. This order provides a mandate and governance structure for a large-scale data integration initiative. The order defines the program’s purpose and calls upon the city’s human-service agencies to develop technology solutions, business processes, and information sharing strategies to support the mission of the program.

Virginia: Commonwealth Consortium for Mental Health and Criminal Justice Transformation
The Virginia Governor’s office issued Executive Order No. 98 to create an interagency consortium led by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and the Department of Criminal Justice Services to oversee diversion initiatives and cross-train employees working in behavioral health and criminal justice settings to address the needs of people passing through both systems. While this order does not directly address information sharing, it is a helpful reference of the type of executive action that can lay a framework for governance.

North Dakota:
The governor’s office issued Executive Order 2001-01, which established the Criminal Justice Information Board and the Criminal Justice Information Executive Committee to set information sharing policy and coordinate information sharing activities in the state’s criminal justice system.

More Helpful Resources on Inter-agency Governance

  1. The Governance and Management of Effective Community Health Partnerships: A Typology for Research, Policy, and Practice
  2. Connecting the Silos: Using Governance Models to Achieve Data Integration
  3. National Governor’s Association. Center for Best Practices. “Overview of State Justice Information Sharing Governance Structures” 
  4. Funding Justice Information Sharing: National Council of State Legislatures