From Coast to Coast: A Wave of Interest in Closing the Country's Criminal Justice Data Gap.
First came Florida, which signed into law the most forward-thinking criminal justice data bill in the country. The law requires comprehensive and standardized data collection and public reporting to one central repository, and we were so proud to have been a part of that effort.
Then came Colorado, which passed a bill to make public jail capacity data. (Not our work, but wonderful news for data transparency.)
This followed by Connecticut's An Act Increasing Fairness and Transparency in the Criminal Justice System, which calls for collecting and publishing data on prosecutorial decisions about charges, diversionary programs, bail requests, plea deals, and sentencing recommendations. (Do you see a pattern here?)
And now: California! Yesterday, the state's legislature passed AB-1331, Criminal Justice Data, which helps improve the quality of criminal history records and paves the way for courts to share data with researchers. (With Stanford Law, we authored a Data Gap Report that cites the key data problems AB 1331 helps to address.)
In gist, AB 1331 helps make sure practitioners in California can make good, informed decisions about how to handle defendants. It also makes crystal clear that California courts have no legal limitations to sharing data with organizations like ours, which is a critical step towards helping everyone improve policy and practice.
These legislative accomplishments are what momentum for change looks like as states begin to take action to ensure criminal justice data are prioritized and accessible.
It won't be long before other states step forward to close their criminal justice data gaps. Why? Because if you make available to the public good data that are easy to use, these data will become the basis for good criminal justice reform.
We're excited about what's happening out there. And excited to be a part of the solution.
If you'd like to support MFJ's efforts to close the criminal justice data gap, please get in touch!