FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Partnership to scale use of racial data, analytics by prosecutors offices to advance transparency and accountability
Rochester, NY (11 MAY 2021)– Measures for Justice, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and Tableau Foundation have come together to help prosecutors use data to pursue a more equitable criminal justice system.
The partnership brings a groundbreaking new public data tool, Commons, to participating district attorney (DA) offices nationwide. A community-facing dashboard, Commons invites residents and local organizations to engage with their DA on the same set of facts, to track progress via monthly data, and to benchmark the office’s progress against a shared policy goal–all in pursuit of a more equitable and efficient criminal justice system.The partnership will also support the development of national metrics all prosecutors can use to assess their performance.
Commons serves prosecutors looking for a tool to make data transparency a key part of a reform agenda that advances public safety and ensures equitable treatment under the law. It also serves communities that are looking for avenues to increase accountability for the institutions and offices that serve them.
The partnership is targeting a pilot cohort of 15 DA offices for the program, and implementation ranges from providing complete Commons dashboards to helping DA offices improve their data management as they work towards data transparency. To kick off the partnership, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA; Jackson County, MO; and Bernalillo County, NM are committed to implementing complete Commons. Additionally, Fairfax County, VA will receive technical assistance to put them on the path to a public dashboard.
“Prosecutors must have adequate data to assess their decision-making, and communities need that data to hold their prosecutor accountable. Commons is a win for everyone. It’s about finding a way to communicate with one another in pursuit of a shared goal: a better, more fair and efficient criminal justice system,” said Amy Bach, CEO of Measures for Justice.
A national organization focused on making criminal justice data meaningful, actionable, and available to the public, Measures for Justice is leading the development of Commons, a co-created space for the community, police, prosecutors, and courts to make criminal justice data transparent and shared goals public. Measures for Justice designed the public dashboard as a template. Starting with an assessment, they work with the prosecutor agencies to improve data so that the agencies are prepared to adopt the Commons template.
Measures for Justice partnered with Yolo County, CA, District Attorney, Jeff Reisig, and the office’s Multi-Cultural Community Council to design and build for the community its own Commons, which launched last month. The Yolo County initiative was funded separately, but illustrates the impact that the dashboard is already making at the local level.
“Criminal justice leaders must take the responsibility for driving reforms that improve fairness and consistency in prosecutorial decision-making and justice system performance,” said Raúl Torrez, Bernalillo County District Attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “By collaborating with Measures for Justice we are advancing a national effort to build community trust in the justice system through transparency and accountability.”
A complete Commons dashboard is co-created with local communities. The DA’s office assembles a team of community leaders to share what data and policy goals are important to them. The dashboard, in turn, provides access to:
- Clear data about the cases that pass through the office (e.g., cases resolved on a monthly basis).
- Patterns and trends broken down by defendant and victim demographics, and case characteristics (e.g., racial disparities in sentencing).
- Progress towards specific policy goals (e.g., monthly case diversions).
As the national leader in technical and training assistance, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) will be critical for helping scale the widespread adoption of Commons.
“Often there is a lack of consensus around how prosecutors should measure their progress, which makes it impossible to replicate what’s working,” said David LaBahn, President and CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. “[a]nd that lack of consensus around how prosecutors should measure their progress makes it impossible to replicate what’s working. This is a terrific opportunity for data to take its place among the most valuable resources available to both the prosecutor’s office and its community.”
This partnership is the third major grant made under Tableau Foundation’s Racial Justice Data Initiative, a $12 million, three-year commitment to build the data capacity of national, regional, and community-based organizations working to fight anti-Black racism and to democratize access to racial justice data that advocates need to push for change at the local level. This partnership includes support that allows prosecutors’ offices to more easily make this data publicly accessible and explorable by their local constituents.
“We’re excited to be partnering with Measures for Justice and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys on this initiative,” said Neal Myrick, Global Head of Tableau Foundation. “We have a great opportunity to empower those offices to provide data in a way that is transparent, helps build community trust, and creates a point for meaningful engagement.”