The Power and Problem of Criminal Justice Data: A Twenty-State Review
Measures for Justice collected data from twenty states that have centralized data systems, ostensibly allowing for the most complete picture of state criminal court systems.
After a decade’s worth of data collection and engagement with county agencies and state courts, it’s become abundantly clear to us that willing and motivated communities simply do not have enough access to their own data to start making sense of what’s happening in their local criminal justice systems. In some cases, the data aren’t there—no one collects them. In other cases, the data are there but are protected by law or administrative discre- tion. Finally, the data are sometimes just too incomplete or messy to use—missing data fields, inconsistent taxonomies, or, sadly, handwriting no one can read.