DOJ-led initiative outlines metrics for collecting justice data

By Sarah Martinson | May 6, 2022, 8:01 p.m. EDT

An initiative led by the US Department of Justice recently unveiled a set of more than 40 measures spanning the entire criminal justice system, from law enforcement to community supervision, which states can report online to provide decision-makers with more recent data on their justice systems.

The Justice Counts initiative, led by the Bureau of Justice Assistance within the Office of Justice Programs along with the Council of State Governments Justice Center, aims to provide policy makers with more timely justice data so they can take informed decisions about their criminal legal systems.

Amy Solomon, principal assistant deputy attorney general in the Office of Justice Programs, said at a virtual event Wednesday that publicly available data on public safety, such as arrest rates and prison populations, often dates from years, preventing policy makers from making decisions based on new data. .

“The goal of Justice Counts is to leverage the data we have in police departments, sheriff’s offices, corrections agencies, and justice systems to help leaders make informed fiscal policy decisions without upgrades. costly in technology and labor,” Solomon said.

Launched in 2020, Justice Counts is supported by more than 20 national organizations, including the American Jail Association, Correctional Leaders Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Justice Management Institute, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, National Sheriffs’ Association and Rand Corp.

For more than a year, the State Government Justice Center has worked with the nonprofit organization Measures for Justice and staff from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to facilitate conversations with Justice Counts committee members and associations. partners on metrics to use to collect better justice data. , according to Justice Counts.

Justice Counts said participants generated nearly 1,200 potential metrics and narrowed them down to about 40 data points that are part of Tier 1 metrics.

Level 1 measures consist of six categories that can be applied in seven sectors of the criminal justice system, according to Justice Counts. The six categories are capacity and costs, population movements, operations and dynamics, public safety, equity and justice. The seven sectors are law enforcement, prosecution, defence, courts, jails, jails, and community supervision.

Alison Bloomquist, vice president of strategic alliances and innovation at the National Defenders Association, said in a statement Wednesday that data is needed to expose injustices in the criminal justice system.

“Advocates have been seeing racial inequality in the criminal justice system for years, but too often we lack the hard data needed to expose and address this inequality,” Bloomquist said.

Justice Counts said it offered two programs to help states implement the measures across their criminal legal systems.

A founding states program offers 10 states direct assistance to recruiting agencies, hands-on implementation support and quick access to the project’s digital infrastructure, according to Justice Counts.

An implementation grant program provides 15 states with financial support and technical assistance for implementing the measures and using the Justice Counts digital infrastructure, Justice Counts said.

Michael Boggs, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and chair of the Justice Counts National Steering Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that the metrics would be a valuable tool for all Georgia courts and state leaders.

“Having immediate access to consistent, timely, and accurate data on caseloads, cases filed, prosecution and defense data, and pre-trial services will provide needed and valuable information as states, including Georgia, are looking to determine how their systems work and function,” Judge Boggs mentioned.

–Edited by Marygrace Anderson and Karin Roberts.

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