We have made so much progress this year towards facilitating criminal justice reform by making available as much good data as possible – I am in awe of our team and of you, for your belief and support.
When we started out, most people thought this work couldn’t be done; and some people weren’t even all that interested. Today, the culture has changed dramatically, and everyone wants data. We no longer have to convince people that knowledge is power. People get it. Today, we’re fielding phone calls from state officials, district attorneys, and other advocates asking us to come into their state and get the data they need to make the criminal justice system better.
Here’s what’s been going on: You all probably remember the landmark bill passed in Florida in 2018 to centralize data sharing and access. It was huge. Since then, we’ve established ourselves as the go-to experts in data legislation and standards. We are working on national data standards with the National Center for State Courts and other national organizations. And we are working with policymakers across the country to inform criminal justice data policy. In California, a report we wrote with Stanford University led the legislature to pass a bill to improve its data collection and sharing policies. That report was picked up by the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board as evidence the state needed better criminal justice data policy. Today we’re working across the country to support similar efforts. We are eager to help any state that wants to invest in data transparency.
Meantime, we’re still hard at work on our big goal of publishing data on 20 states in 2020. As of today, we have data from 21 states. I’m confident that by the end of 2020, we will publish the most comprehensive set of criminal justice data in the country. We’re also shaping up our Data Portal so that it’s more user friendly. We listened to practitioners and policymakers from all over the country and teamed up with some amazing people at Google.org to design the Portal’s new look.
As someone who’s been with us and followed our work, you likely already know the challenges we face to collect data from disparate sources and wrangle them into a format that allows for comparison and analysis. Add to that the importance of speed: the more recent the data, the better. So this year, we called in our full team of experts to solve this problem. And did they ever – our experts are creating a new system of data processing that is flexible, modular, and, quite honestly, critical to the entire criminal justice reform effort.
But we aren’t stopping there.
We are also working to increase prosecutorial transparency by partnering with prosecutor offices to offer them custom dashboards that specifically reflect the measures they and their constituents are interested in. Our first partnership is with the district attorney of Yolo County, CA, Jeff Reisig. We are partnering with Reisig’s office to build a community-facing portal. It's going to bring a new level of transparency to the D.A.’s office, and we anticipate using the partnership to encourage other offices to take the same approach.
In sum, we’re hard at work on multiple fronts to improve the country’s data infrastructure and help make data-driven decision making the norm.
I can imagine the day in the not-so-distant future when we can clearly see the big impact of our work nationwide. When the inefficiencies in the system are identified and remedied, so that funds can be used to improve lives, not ruin them. When advocates can have the proof points they need to remedy system disparities. When our data can be used to improve public safety in a community, closing loopholes that may be exploited by those with the assets and resources to do so. We’ve seen our data work towards these goals already, but it’s just the beginning.
In this season of reflection, of thanks, and of giving, I thank you for what you have done for the organization, and for all you will continue to do in the future. I hope you will consider including Measures for Justice in your philanthropic giving, helping to further fuel the progress we are making together. And, if you have any questions, please do contact me directly – I’d love to hear from you.