The Department of Justice today launched Justice Counts, an effort to help states make smarter policy and budget decisions using up-to-date, actionable criminal justice data:
The initiative, announced today by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta during a virtual conference with criminal justice practitioners and researchers, is led by the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in collaboration with 21 professional associations representing every part of the criminal justice system.
“Our justice systems should be built on principles of fairness, effectiveness and efficiency, and policymakers and the public need better data in order to advance these principles,” said Associate Attorney General Gupta. “The better equipped we are with timely data, the more effectively we can serve our communities and secure the trust and confidence of those we serve.”
Justice Counts is being created in response to calls from policymakers and public safety professionals for more actionable data on crime, incarceration, community supervision and related topics. State leaders are making budgetary and policy decisions based on data that are inconsistently collected and reported across the comparable agencies in their jurisdictions. Agencies lack the time, technology and mandate to create scalable solutions. Members of the public are also seeking greater transparency in criminal justice budgets. Justice Counts will deliver a set of key recommended criminal justice metrics as well as aggregation tools that make the most of data already collected to help leaders reach informed decisions without requiring costly upgrades.
“This impressive collaborative of partners is working together to make criminal justice data visible, digestible, actionable and transparent,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). “The Justice Counts initiative is building the data infrastructure this country needs — and will use — to create safe and just communities.”
“We take for granted that the fiscal and policy decisions being made by our elected leaders are informed by up-to-date, carefully analyzed data, but we find that, on issues of public safety, that is often not the case,” said Acting Director Kristen Mahoney of the BJA. “This partnership — virtually unprecedented in its size and scope — will drive us toward consensus on the key data points needed to shape our responses to our nation’s crime and justice challenges.”
States and localities and agencies therein will receive tools and assistance from Justice Counts partners to adopt metrics and use the data to inform their decision-making. The Justice Counts Data Scans already demonstrate the concept in a central, practical resource for stakeholders to identify gaps and inconsistencies in corrections reporting across all 50 states.
“Before we can solve the challenges facing our criminal justice system, we first need an accurate picture of what is happening inside the system,” said Director Megan Quattlebaum of the CSG Justice Center. “Unfortunately, many policymakers are forced to make important decisions surrounding public safety and justice based on outdated or incomplete information. Justice Counts is an unparalleled, consensus-based initiative that will empower states to use accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date data, allowing state and local leaders to make informed decisions that increase public safety, health and equity.”
A list of Justice Counts partners follows:
- American Jail Association
- American Probation and Parole Association
- Correctional Leaders Association
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Justice Management Institute
- Measures for Justice
- National Association of Counties Research Foundation
- National Association of State Budget Officers
- National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
- National Criminal Justice Association
- National Center for State Courts
- National Conference of State Legislatures
- National District Attorneys Association
- National Governors Association
- National Legal Aid & Defender Association
- National Sheriffs’ Association
- RAND Corporation
- University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute
For more information, visit the Justice Counts website.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.