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National Justice System Metrics Will Provide More Accurate, Timely Data



The national Justice Counts initiative released a series of metrics that aim to leverage data that the sponsors say "agencies across the nation agree are essential and get them into the hands of policymakers to support more informed decision-making."


The metrics are designed to provide policymakers and the public with timely, wide-ranging information on the criminal justice system that they have previously been unable to access.


The metrics were developed by a national coalition of criminal justice experts across each of seven sectors: law enforcement, prosecution, defense, pretrial/courts, jails, prisons, and community supervision.


More than 100 people, agencies, and entities balanced a complex range of issues in developing and refining the metrics through seven sector-focused subcommittees.


The metrics, which will first be put together in 10 states, with an additional 15 states to follow, are designed to be simple, feasible and effective.


They capture key data points while accounting for the fact that agencies collect, define, and maintain data in different ways and that data quality may vary.


They rely on data points that are commonly collected by agencies and should be easy to share.

Those running the program under the sponsorship of the Council of State Governments Justice Center say that, "While the metrics will capture trends and offer structured guidance for sharing data by agencies across the system for decision-makers to broadly compare and contrast, they also allow agencies to provide context behind the numbers to enable fair, accurate use of the data collected."


In an online program Wednesday to introduce the metrics, Amy Solomon of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs, which is helping to fund the effort, said that current justice system metrics include "incomplete data" and "inaccurate information," and much of it is months or years old.


Nicole Sullivan of the North Carolina public safety department said a standardized set of justice data should help policymakers "know what people need and how to address problems."