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8 judicial districts launch data dashboards to increase fairness, transparency in the justice system

Eight judicial districts will use the data to help ensure fairness and equity in the justice system, while revealing trends in prosecutions.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado district attorneys said they're making an effort to combat public distrust in the criminal justice system with data

On Thursday, eight judicial districts launched data dashboards on their websites. Officials said this is new data that can show trends like racial and ethnic disparities in prosecution.

"I was a prosecutor for 10 years in our community and I saw so many files go through with Latino surnames. I had no idea how to quantify it, how to acknowledge any impact or how to start a conversation to solve disparities," said Alexis King, district attorney for the 1st Judicial District. "That really ends today with these public facing data dashboards."

Some of the data that will be available includes, sentencing and bond decisions, case outcomes, charging and filing information, among many other metrics. 

"I believe that it is our responsibility as elected officials to hold offenders accountable for criminal behavior while advancing a society that is just, equitable and compassionate so all members of our community can trust the criminal justice system," said Beth McCann, district attorney for the 2nd Judicial District.

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Michael Dougherty, district attorney for the 20th Judicial District said they're trying to build trust with and engage the community. 

"'What does the data show? What is the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in the justice system? What data do you have around that?' and the answer time and time again was, 'We have an amazing staff. They work incredibly hard and we recognize bias and disparities exist in the justice system but I don’t have any such data. It does not exist. We don’t track it,'" said Dougherty. "Today, thanks to our allies and partners we’re taking a significant step towards doing that and to be able to answer those questions."

He said this is a huge step towards openness and transparency, so that they can have conversations with the community about what's working in the criminal justice system and what's not. 

"We think of these dashboards in many ways like a diagnostic tool. They may tell you the percentage of certain cases that were filed or not filed or the outcomes on a percentage basis based off of felony filings, but they won’t necessarily tell you why those numbers are what they are," said John Kellner, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District. "These dashboards are the beginning of that conversation and then lead us to question why are we seeing longer resolutions for cases in one jurisdiction over another and how can we improve on that to make it more fair."

The eight judicial districts participating in this right now are part of the pilot phase of this project. There are plans to make it available state-wide to other districts wanting to participate. 

Those judicial districts include:

Grant funding for this project came from Microsoft's Justice Reform Initiative. It's the first statewide initiative for the Prosecutorial Performance Indicators (PPI) Project, which is a collaborative effort between PPI, the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, and district attorney offices. 

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