As Jose Garza announced in August that he was running for re-election as Travis County District Attorney, he called out the Texas Legislature for targeting prosecutors’ offices, and highlighted data on the successes of his office – particularly an increase in "wins" for cases of violence and family violence, KXAN reports. “Over the last four years, we have increased the conviction rate for violent crimes from 38% to 91%,” Garza said. His campaign touted the same increase in convictions in emails to supporters, on social media and on his candidate website.
KXAN reporters found that the formula used to calculate these statistics was questionable. After KXAN’s reporting, the district attorney said his office is re-evaluating the method and "trying to find the best way to present its data." KXAN's piece outlines the art/science behind "conviction rates." Critics questioned whether conviction rates should be used at all, since the role of a prosecutor is to seek a just outcome in a particular incident, not simply to win the case. Also, experts said, because there are many variables that could go into calculating a conviction rate, the public needs to know exactly how a rate was calculated to understand what it means.