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U.S. Justice Department Launches State Data Sharing Program

Through the new U.S. Department of Justice initiative, state governments will have access to up-to-date criminal justice data and aggregation tools to help make better-informed policy and budget decisions.

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A new initiative by the Department of Justice called Justice Counts looks to provide up-to-date, actionable criminal justice data to help state governments make better-informed policy and budget decisions.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta announced the initiative yesterday during a virtual conference alongside criminal justice practitioners and researchers.

According to Gupta, the effort will be 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 different parts 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,” Gupta said in a release. “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.”

One of the concerns that prompted the initiative is states dealing with inconsistent data across agencies in their jurisdictions, making it challenging to decide on budgetary and policy decisions. Another issue is not having the time, technology or mandate to create scalable solutions.

As a result, Justice Counts aims to deliver a set of recommended criminal justice metrics and aggregation tools to help leaders reach informed decisions without requiring costly upgrades.

“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 in a release. “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.”