City Lab by Teresa Matthews
March 22, 2018
After a bill passed by the Florida legislature is signed into law, the Sunshine State will gather more criminal-justice data and release it to the public.
The anonymized, county-level data required by the bill includes: pre-trial release decisions; the case outcomes of indigent defendants; case outcomes broken down by ethnicity; recidivism rates after defendants are released from prison or probation; and other information, such as a court’s annual misdemeanor caseload. Prosecutors will also have to disclose their plea offers. The bill requires counties to report about 25 percent more data than they do now, according to Wired.
Law enforcement will start making data-gathering changes over the summer, and the state should have its first standardized data release by the summer of 2019, said State Representative Chris Sprowls, who introduced the bill. All of the information is to be published in one publicly accessible database.
Judges’ plea offers will be disclosed “not just [for felonies], but misdemeanors,” said Amy Bach, the founder and executive director of Measures for Justice, a national organization that collects court data and creates performance measures to help localities identify problems in their criminal-justice systems. It’s significant that Florida has included misdemeanor plea offers, Bach said, because minor offenses are “where people really get sucked into the system.” [READ MORE]