Justice Counts Metrics

Justice Counts aims to leverage data that agencies across the nation agree are essential and get them into the hands of policymakers to support more informed decision-making.

The Justice Counts metrics provide policymakers and the public with timely, wide-ranging information on their criminal justice system that they have previously been unable to access. These metrics were developed by a national coalition of criminal justice experts across each of these sectors: law enforcement, prosecution, defense, pretrial/courts, jails, prisons, and community supervision. More than 100 people, agencies, and entities worked to balance a complex range of issues in developing and refining the metrics through seven sector-focused subcommittees.

The metrics are designed to be:

Simple

The metrics capture key data points while also accounting for the fact that agencies collect, define, and maintain data in different ways and that data quality may vary by agency or metric.

Feasible

The metrics rely on data points that are commonly collected by agencies and should be easy to share. They take into account that baselines may vary across agencies and localities.

Effective

The metrics are easy to understand and will provide data that policymakers and agency leaders can utilize in their decision-making. While the metrics will capture trends and offer agencies across the system structured guidance for sharing data that decision-makers can broadly compare and contrast, they also allow agencies to provide context behind the numbers to enable fair, accurate use of the data collected.

Tier 1 Justice Counts Metrics

Sector

Description

Metrics

Though crime reduction and use of force are two important dimensions of policing, a complete understanding of the quality of law enforcement requires looking at all policing functions. In addition to protection and enforcement, police are also tasked with crime prevention, establishing community relationships, resolving disputes, providing assistance to individuals in need, among many other things. The inputs to law enforcement, including budget, recruitment, equipment, and training, along with department policies and community relations also help shape the context in which police activity takes place. Therefore, efforts to measure police performance in a holistic way may wish to account for some of these less obvious but resource-intensive and necessary aspects of policing. Read more

Capacity & Costs

  • Annual budget
  • Police officers per capita

Population Movements

  • Reported crime
  • Arrests

Operations & Dynamics

  • Calls for service, by type

Public Safety

  • Officer use of force incidents

Equity

  • Arrests by race or ethnicity
  • Arrests by gender

Fairness

  • Civilian complaints sustained

Though crime reduction and use of force are two important dimensions of policing, a complete understanding of the quality of law enforcement requires looking at all policing functions. In addition to protection and enforcement, police are also tasked with crime prevention, establishing community relationships, resolving disputes, providing assistance to individuals in need, among many other things. The inputs to law enforcement, including budget, recruitment, equipment, and training, along with department policies and community relations also help shape the context in which police activity takes place. Therefore, efforts to measure police performance in a holistic way may wish to account for some of these less obvious but resource-intensive and necessary aspects of policing.

Read more

Capacity & Costs

  • Annual budget
  • Police officers per capita

Population Movements

  • Reported crime
  • Arrests

Operations & Dynamics

  • Calls for service, by type

Public Safety

  • Officer use of force incidents

Equity

  • Arrests by race or ethnicity
  • Arrests by gender

Fairness

  • Civilian complaints sustained

Prosecutors can advance both public safety and equitable treatment under the law. The work of prosecutors has a significant impact on all parties to a case, from expert witnesses and persons victimized, to individuals charged. Prosecutors must be able to effectively balance the demands of each case with the needs of the court and the community and require proper resources to do so.

Read more

Capacity & Costs

  • Annual budget
  • Total staff

Population Movements

  • Cases referred
  • Caseloads
  • Cases disposed

Operations & Dynamics

  • Cases declined
  • Cases diverted/deferred
  • Cases prosecuted

Equity

  • Cases declined, diverted/deferred, and prosecuted by race or ethnicity
  • Cases declined, diverted/deferred, and prosecuted by gender

Fairness

  • Violations filed against attorneys in the office resulting in disciplinary action

Defense counsel fulfills an important role in upholding the constitutional right to representation entitled to all Americans. This responsibility requires access to counsel who can provide representation, support services, and investigative resources. Effective representation requires appropriate resources and an understanding of the flow and timeline of cases through a jurisdiction and to defense providers. Measuring the caseload and capacity of defense is needed to inform policy and resource decisions.

Read more

Capacity & Costs

  • Annual budget
  • Total staff

Population Movements

  • Cases appointed
  • Cases disposed
  • Caseloads

Equity

  • Cases disposed by race or ethnicity
  • Cases disposed by gender

Fairness

  • Client complaints against counsel sustained

At the county level, courts are the centralized authority on case processing and law enforcement. These institutions are tasked with handling and tracking all criminal charges filed against an individual, whether resolved by dismissal or acquittal or conviction by plea or trial. The secure and accurate processing of details related to these charges is necessary, as the courts are often also tasked with forwarding information about a case to other system actors. Courts must also manage critical data related to an individual’s prior criminal and release history for appropriate risk assessments and ensure fair access to justice.

Read more

Capacity & Costs

  • Annual budget
  • Total staff

Population Movements

  • Criminal case filings
  • Cases disposed

Operations & Dynamics

  • Pretrial releases
  • Sentences imposed

Public Safety

  • New offenses while on pretrial release

Equity

  • Sentences imposed by race or ethnicity
  • Sentences Imposed by gender

Fairness

  • Cases overturned on appeal

Jail populations include individuals who are awaiting trial, who have been convicted and are serving a short sentence, and who may be awaiting placement elsewhere. Jails are ubiquitous in every jurisdiction, yet policymakers may have difficulty finding population statistics for their local jail with any regularity or accuracy. For policymakers to ensure that jails are properly resourced for occupants and employees, it is necessary to understand the population and staffing dynamics as well as how effectively jails adhere to their policies and procedures.

Read more

Capacity & Costs

  • Annual budget
  • Total staff

Population Movements

  • Admissions
  • Average daily population
  • Releases

Operations & Dynamics

  • Readmission rate

Public Safety

  • Staff use-of-force incidents

Equity

  • Average daily population by race or ethnicity
  • Average daily population by gender

Fairness

  • Grievances upheld

People who are incarcerated in a state correctional facility need access to programming, health care, and appropriate measures to ensure safety. Transparency in prison data may include information related to the capacity of institutions, sentencing practices and guidelines set forth by the state, and the availability and quality of rehabilitative resources for people in custody. Most people in state custody will eventually return to their communities. Therefore, tracking effective reentry services and resulting recidivism rates for these individuals will improve decision-making for policymakers and service providers.

Read more

Capacity & Costs

  • Annual budget
  • Total staff

Population Movements

  • Admissions
  • Average daily population
  • Releases

Operations & Dynamics

  • Readmission rate

Public Safety

  • Staff use-of-force incidents

Equity

  • Average daily population by race or ethnicity
  • Average daily population by gender

Fairness

  • Grievances upheld

Community supervision usually encompasses probation and parole and is overseen by state and local governments. People serving on community supervision are subject to any number of conditions imposed by the state. To improve decision-making, data efforts may focus on felony and misdemeanor placements to parole and probation, caseload management, reasons for revocation, and staffing allocations for managing people on supervision.

Read more

Capacity & Costs

  • Annual budget
  • Total staff

Population Movements

  • New supervision cases
  • Individuals under supervision
  • Supervision terminations

Operations & Dynamics

  • Supervision violations

Public Safety

  • Reconviction while on supervision

Equity

  • People under supervision by race or ethnicity
  • People under supervision by gender

How these Metrics Will Make a Difference

Justice Counts metrics relay aggregate-level information from criminal justice agencies that shows trends and dynamics at key points in the system. These data provide policymakers with vital context for making policy and budget decisions and can help increase awareness of overall criminal justice trends and impacts.

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that it is possible for government agencies to publish ongoing, recent data and that when they are accessible, policymakers will use those data to make better decisions. States need a sustainable way to access critical data, and Justice Counts provides both simple, feasible, and effective criminal justice metrics and the infrastructure to share them easily.

States must commit to making accurate, accessible, and actionable data a permanent reality across the criminal justice system—from law enforcement and prosecution to courts and prisons. Smarter criminal justice policy requires better data—data that are up to date, consistently available, and easy to understand and utilize. The Justice Counts metrics are designed to accomplish this by being feasible for criminal justice agency staff to implement and share and useful for policymakers to inform decisions that are more equitable, more cost-effective, and fairer.

Two Ways to See the Data

States that participate in the Justice Counts Founding State Program or the Implementation Grant Program will have their own state-specific dashboard that displays metrics shared by agencies in their state and provides state policymakers and stakeholders with easy-to-understand data visualizations that will give both a detailed look and a high-level overview of their state’s criminal justice system. In addition, Justice Counts will aggregate the data shared from each state into a national dashboard that will provide cross-system insights.

State-Specific Dashboard

State-Specific Dashboard

National Dashboard

National Dashboard