Creating a National Infrastructure for Performance Measurement

Measures for Justice is doing the groundbreaking work of developing a series of measures to gauge criminal justice system performance from arrest to post-conviction, on a county-by-county basis.

It won’t be long before we post our data and analyses right here as part of a massive redesign of the site. You will be able to search through and configure our findings, and walk away with a snapshot of how the justice system is working nationwide. So check back soon.

The Problem

The United States has more people in prison per capita than any other nation. An estimated twenty percent of the population, 65.7 million Americans, has a criminal record. There are at least as many victims of crime.

Twenty Percent

Yet despite its size and impact, the nation’s justice system as a whole lacks a way to compare performance across counties so that administrators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, defendants, victims, et al can identify best practices and problem areas.

The result is a public that cannot assess how well or poorly its justice system is functioning, and whose Constitutional rights are often abrogated, alongside a system that is wasteful and costly to taxpayers.

Despite the abundance of problems in the justice system—racial disparity, criminalizing immigrants, convicting the innocent—no one actually knows how justice in America works, county by county.

The Solution

Measures for Justice (MFJ) is the first organization to initiate and implement a series of performance measures to assess and compare the whole criminal justice process from beginning to end: from arrest to post conviction on a county-by-county basis. We call these measures “The Measures for Justice.”

The Measures for Justice, in total, will depict what is transpiring in the criminal justice system, which will necessarily draw attention to problem areas, generate best practices, and bedrock reform initiatives.

As part of this mission, MFJ plans to make its measures and analyses available to everyone. Legal professionals, state leaders such as attorneys general and state Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils, advocacy groups, or just the average citizen who is concerned with systemic change, will have access to information about how well their local justice system is working.

Eventually, the Measures for Justice will become a nationwide system that will gather data from most, if not all, counties, and generate a picture of the criminal justice system that no one data point can provide. Our measures and corresponding analyses will in turn be used to identify leading practices and to enable county officials to learn from each other.