Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Partners with CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance on Data and Transparency Initiative

Thursday, March 21, 2019


Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Partners with CUNY Institute for
State and Local Governance on Data and Transparency Initiative

Revamping Agency’s Data and Analytical Capacity Will Improve its Practice and
Allow for Better Decision-Making, Greater Accountability and Transparency;
Program Fulfills one of Justice 2020’s Recommendations

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG), today announced a Data and Transparency Initiative that will improve the DA’s Office’s ability to track and analyze its data, allowing for better evaluation of prosecutors’ decision-making, enhanced transparency and an increased ability to assess the effectiveness of its policies. The partnership represents an important step in fulfilling the recommendation of  DA Gonzalez’s Justice 2020 Committee to “establish a data/analytics team to drive metrics, best practices and reform.” More information on the partnership is available here.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A twenty-first century, progressive prosecutor’s office must be guided by data, which informs policies and allows for greater accountability and transparency. This unique collaboration will make my Office smarter, more focused, more mission-driven and will put us in the best position to gauge the effectiveness of our Justice 2020 initiatives. We intend to share what we learn with other prosecutorial agencies, researchers and the public.”

ISLG Executive Director Michael Jacobson said, “We are very pleased to partner on this initiative, which will lay the foundation for data-driven decision-making across the Office and strengthen the DA’s commitment to fairness and equal justice. By investing in data and analytics, DA Gonzalez is taking an important step towards transparency and accountability that can serve as a model for other offices across the nation.”

The first phase of the partnership – which is already well underway – is a one-year capacity-building project in which ISLG is helping the DA’s Office identify and implement a series of measures to improve its ability to track, analyze, and use the data that speaks to its most important policy and practice goals. This work began with a diagnostic review of current data, systems and practices to identify the extent to which current capacity supports operational, measurement, and evaluation needs; what gaps exist; and what steps can be taken to fill those gaps. Much of the initial assessment has been completed and ISLG introduced its findings to the DA in February 2019.

The second step is a nine-month implementation phase during which ISLG will work with the DA’s staff to implement the steps identified as most critical for monitoring and evaluating the Office’s highest priority questions – including those related to Justice 2020 progress and outcomes – and informing the decision-making of Brooklyn prosecutors.

Justice 2020 is DA Gonzalez’s plan of action aimed at keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening community trust by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all. It is made up of 17 specific recommendations that are being implemented to radically transform his Office into a model of a progressive prosecutorial agency in the 21st Century.

Once the above-described data system improvements have been put in place, ISLG will follow up with an analysis of prosecutorial decision-making. This analysis will focus on five key decision points: case acceptance, charging, pretrial release, disposition, and plea bargaining. Ultimately, this work will not only help the DA’s Office evaluate the effectiveness of Justice 2020 reforms, but also provide information to other prosecutorial offices and the broader community, and set an example for data-driven reforms that ensure both public safety and fairness.

The new case management system will allow the Office to identify relevant metrics, generate reports both internally and publicly, conduct deeper analyses of performance, partner with external researchers, and more.

The project is being jointly funded by Arnold Ventures through its National Partnership for Pretrial Justice and the William T. Grant Foundation.

The Data and Transparency Initiative is being implemented by William Power, the District Attorney’s Chief Information Officer, and Jeremy Shockett, First Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Trial Division, under the overall supervision of Jill Harris, Chief of Policy and Strategy and the Director of Justice 2020.