Courts Count on NCSC to Collect Criminal Data


criminal court data

NCSC collecting state court criminal data for two projects

After 50 years of compiling and analyzing court data, NCSC has earned a reputation as the premiere organization for crunching numbers. That reputation and the fact that NCSC has strong relationships with state court officials explain why many organizations and institutions want us to help them gather and analyze data.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) recently awarded contracts for two projects to collect data on criminal cases in state courts.

“The federal government wants to build a more detailed understanding of how many criminal cases are moving through state courts and what’s happening in those cases,” said NCSC researcher Cynthia G. Lee, who will direct NCSC’s efforts on both projects. “NCSC is uniquely situated to help BJS and our partner organizations minimize the burden of data collection on the courts and ensure that the data are interpreted correctly.”

Both projects will base their data requests on the National Open Court Data Standards, an NCSC-led effort that coordinates how state courts nationwide define terms and gather and analyze data. Both will start with calls to court officials to determine what type of data they can share.

The first of these projects, conducted in partnership with the Urban Institute and called Criminal Cases in State Courts, aims to collect case-level court data on adult felony and misdemeanor cases at about 150 sites.  Data collection has begun.

The second project, in partnership with is Research Triangle Institute, Inc., seeks to gain a deeper understanding of adult felony cases by linking court records from approximately 125 counties with records from other justice system agencies, such as law enforcement and corrections. That project, called the National Pretrial Reporting Program, hasn’t started yet.

A total of 11 NCSC employees are working on the two projects, and BJS is looking forward to finding out what the data reveals.

“Understanding the role courts play is central to understanding our criminal justice system,” said Kevin M. Scott, chief of BJS’s Law Enforcement Statistics Unit. “We can only do that by working with the courts and we are committed to providing valuable information to those courts in return.”

Webinar to demonstrate how child welfare leaders can strengthen their communities

Join NCSC for its "Strengthening Families: What Role Can Courts Play in Upstream Family Preservation?" webinar on Thurs., Feb. 4 at 4 pm ET. The webinar will highlight two jurisdictions – Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama – and the upstream and pre-petition work that their courts have engaged in to better serve families at risk of child welfare system involvement. Learn more or register here.