Inadequate data collection slows criminal justice reform


By Genesis Guzman

ROCHESTER, NY – The fight for reform of the criminal justice system is advocated from different angles, all of which have a common underlying problem, the lack of collection and storage of criminal justice data.

Amy Bach, Managing Director of Measures for Justice, wrote in “Don’t ignore the infrastructure of criminal justice” that there is a need to explore the problem facing the justice system in collecting, storing and sharing data. useful for analyzing current changes. through reforms, policies and laws.

Current nationwide data collection systems are outdated and in need of serious investment and improvement, Bach said, adding that the pressure for change is not as daunting as it is. it seems.

For example, Bach compares that “the estimated cost of improving the entire federal firearms data infrastructure – less than $ 160 million – is cheaper than resurfacing a runway. airport”.

So far, little action has been observed, Bach added – federal spending on the criminal justice system has increased by almost 400% in the past 20 years, but it has yet to be understood and used effectively. a way that can make a difference. There are no statistics and appropriate data to understand the impact of these expenses.

Measures for change published a report documenting the lack of adequate data collection in court, in 17 of the 20 states analyzed, court data on impoverished defendants was not available at all. Data, including bail, detention and release practices, were virtually non-existent.

The report proved that there is a lack of appropriate data collection tactics used today. With this lack of material reforms, such as the elimination of the cash bond, it is not possible to resolve the issue as there is no information to discuss.

Studies note that improved data collection has an impact on a much larger scale. Being able to analyze how policies have affected people and police practices is necessary to determine whether they are effective or not. Leading to much broader reform in areas of criminal justice that need to be addressed such as racial inequalities and public safety.

According to critics, the issue of racial injustice is dissected across various aspects of the justice system such as police practices, court proceedings, prison populations and prison systems. Information regarding these and other areas in the criminal justice system cannot be tracked state by state.

Likewise, note from studies, the concern of growing gun violence in the country is a significant issue being discussed, and even with the growing concern, very little is known about the facts regarding the misuse of handguns. fire.

Steps to address this lack of information are slowly being taken.

A University of Chicago research organization, NORC, released a report outlining recommendations on how the federal government can create a firearms data infrastructure.

For example, according to Bach and others, the George Floyd Policing Act is a reform bill that addresses policies and issues “concerning police practices and law enforcement accountability”, including the transparency of law enforcement officials. data in its policies.

This bill is important for breaking through the barriers that make it difficult for officers to be held accountable for abuse of power, but it is still being debated by Congress.

Local politicians have started to take initiatives to improve state-level data systems. Since 2011, Utah has passed approximately 12 data laws and in 2012, Florida “passed the most forward-thinking criminal justice data transparency law in the country.”

These states and many more are doing their part in reforming the criminal justice data infrastructure. But, said Bach, without the support and leadership of the federal government, there isn’t much that can be done to improve this issue nationally.


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