Initiative Will Help Courts and Advance Data Transparency
Williamsburg, Va., June 26, 2018—The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and Measures for Justice today announced a new partnership to create comprehensive data standards for state and local courts. In an important first step towards full data transparency, the new “National Court Open Data Standards Project” will facilitate and accelerate safe access to county-level court data.
NCSC is undertaking this initiative in collaboration with Measures for Justice to standardize the data courts collect and improve access to that data, which is critical for researchers and stakeholders seeking to improve the public’s understanding of how the justice system is working.
As open access to government data becomes the norm across society, the courts are increasingly inundated with data requests. This collaboration between NCSC and Measures for Justice seeks to equip the courts with the tools they need to thrive in this new era of data ubiquity—by developing a uniform data standard, which will foster more consistent and reliable data collection, lead to better data quality, lower court costs, and enable faster and more reliable data access. Through these standards, this initiative will help streamline the courts’ ability to provide uniform database access. It will also align court data with national open data policy.
“The data standards will enable courts to more easily provide available data to the public. It will also facilitate the ability of the courts to better manage themselves using their data. Finally, standards will help courts play a more coordinated role within their criminal justice systems,” said Tom Clarke, Vice President of Research & Technology at NCSC. Mary McQueen, President of NCSC, added that, “public trust and confidence is the foundation of justice. The National Data Standards Project will enable state courts to improve their performance and provide the public with a transparent view of justice.”
“We are thrilled to collaborate with NCSC because we have a shared interest in developing standards and uniform definitions that will ease the burden on the courts and enable more seamless data sharing,” said Amy Bach, founder and Executive Director of Measures for Justice. “This is an exciting step forward towards that goal.”
Measures for Justice is a non-partisan nonprofit with a mission to bring transparency to local criminal justice systems. The organization does this by collecting existing criminal justice data from counties, running them through a set of comparative performance measures spanning arrest to post-conviction, and publishing them on a free, online Data Portal.
The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.
The initiative advances the work of both organizations by convening an advisory group of court and non-court experts to develop data definitions and technology standards to be published by NCSC and promoted as best practices within the courts. The initiative hopes to make rapid progress by leveraging existing work on data standards from both court and third-party sources including Measures for Justice. It is designed to proceed alongside other planned or ongoing court data access projects, and will not to hinder access to existing court data.