Measures for Justice Helps Fairfax County, VA, Pursue Its Goal of a More Transparent Criminal Justice System
Fairfax is part of seven other communities across the U.S. to participate in data assessments to increase prosecutor accountability
(Fairfax County, VA) November 9, 2023 – To combat a lack of standardized criminal justice metrics, the Fairfax County, VA, Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney (OCA) announces the completion of a data assessment to help make the office’s actions and data more accessible and transparent to the public. This effort is part of a partnership with Measures for Justice (MFJ) and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA).
“This project played an important role in our readiness for publishing data, a key part of our mission to build a more fair and equitable justice system,” said Steve Descano, Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney. “MFJ’s resources and expertise helped us analyze and publish our first public dashboards on data points that were requested by our community. MFJ, and their partnership with the Tableau Foundation, will continue to inform our work as we publish future data dashboards on case outcomes.”
Data assessments are a critical step on the road to a more transparent and accountable criminal justice system, and a service Measures for Justice offers counties nationwide.
“The assessment we provided sets the stage for data transparency,” said Amy Bach, Founder and CEO of Measures for Justice. “This partnership with APA supported by the Tableau Foundation aims to educate and help communities and counties improve their data infrastructure as a first step towards creating public data that can be used to help understand and reshape the justice system.”
Fairfax has already made its data more transparent through the launch of two public dashboards: one dedicated to bond recommendations compared to the court’s decision; and another focusing on red flag orders for gun removals in dangerous situations. These dashboards are the first steps to what is intended to be an institutionalized practice to make criminal justice data available to the public on a regular basis.
“This project was successful in moving Fairfax toward a data-ready office that can be transparent with the community it serves,” said David LaBahn, President and CEO of the APA. “Shared access and understanding of data and evidence is important to building legitimacy and trust in the office’s policies and practices to achieve more equitable outcomes.”
The APA is the national leader in technical and training assistance. It has a robust network of prosecutors’ offices, many of which are in major counties throughout the country, and which prosecute a large share of the nation’s crime.
In addition to Fairfax, other nationwide locations in which the APA, in partnership with MFJ, has committed to data transparency through a data readiness assessment project include: Norfolk County, VA; Contra Costa County, CA; Dallas County, TX; Miami-Dade County, FL; Davidson County (Nashville), TN; and Ramsey County, MN. East Baton Rouge, LA, participated in the data assessment and has since launched its public data platform – Commons – in October. Jackson County, MO, has completed the data assessment and will launch its Commons public data platform in early 2024.
This partnership was formed as part of the Tableau Foundation’s (now a part of the Salesforce Foundation) Racial Justice Data Initiative, a $12 million, three-year commitment to build the data capacity of national, regional, and community-based organizations working to fight anti-Black racism and to democratize access to racial justice data that advocates need to push for change at the local level. This partnership includes support that allows prosecutors’ offices to more easily make this data publicly accessible and explorable by their local constituents.
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About Measures for Justice
Measures for Justice is leading a movement to change the future of criminal justice by developing tools that help communities and the institutions that serve them reshape how the system works. Since 2011, Measures for Justice has worked with communities, courts, prosecutors, and police to shine a light on what criminal justice looks like nationwide; collaborated to standardize and improve criminal justice data nationwide; and created tools, provided services, and led research to help create a criminal justice system that is fully transparent, accessible, and accountable.