Research

Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office launches groundbreaking data dashboard

TAMPA, FL (December 17, 2020) – In a major new step forward for transparency, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren is launching a groundbreaking public Data Dashboard on Thursday. The Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, along with prosecutor’s offices in Jacksonville, Chicago, and Milwaukee, worked with criminologists from Florida International University and Loyola University of Chicago on a multi-year project to create a 21st Century blueprint for tracking data and measuring prosecutorial success.

“Transparency builds trust. It’s that simple. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure everyone—from every neighborhood and every background—can have trust in their justice system,” Warren said.

These are just three of the 23 indicators the Data Dashboard tracks from the work of the State Attorney’s Office to advocate for victims and improve public safety. More indicators will be added in the months following the launch.

“We all know that parts of our justice system are out-of-date, by decades or even centuries. Tracking data like this helps us understand where we are succeeding and where we need to do better, and it lets us try new ideas then rely on data to know whether they’re working,” Warren said.

To produce the revolutionary new tool, the team from FIU and Loyola was given access to analyze hundreds of thousands of files from Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit, covering Hillsborough County, and Florida’s 4th Circuit, covering metro Jacksonville. State Attorney Melissa Nelson of the 4th Circuit is launching her office’s own Data Dashboard later this month. Together, the two new public portals are Florida’s first Data Dashboards for prosecutors.

“This borrows some of the best ideas from the business world. We’re digging into the data, even the data that’s not so pretty, to understand whether we’re delivering the products our customers want. For a prosecutor’s office, the products people want are a safer community, fair outcomes, and lower costs for taxpayers,” Warren said.

The MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge funded the work in Hillsborough and Jacksonville, as well as Milwaukee and Chicago, with a $1.7 million grant. Together, the effort has produced a set of Prosecutorial Performance Indicators, or PPIs. The PPIs look beyond old measures of success (often mainly a race for the most prison sentences) to measure the metrics that matter in a 21st Century prosecutor’s office: actual crime reduction, supporting crime victims, success of diversion programs, achieving consistency and fairness, minimizing racial disparities, and the efficient use of limited resources.

“Making the best possible decisions on each case does not guarantee the best outcomes overall. So, prosecutors need to do both—assess each case and make the best possible decision on it, and examine the cumulative effect of these decisions. For example, consider the medical field: while to a doctor every patient is unique, good doctors also observe trends and research to come up with individualized treatment plans,” said FIU Associate Professor Besiki Kutateladze, who leads the PPI project.

Hillsborough’s Data Dashboard joins several other transparency efforts put in place by State Attorney Warren, including:

  • Releasing a public summary and evidence every time a Use of Deadly Force is reviewed
  • Creating the office’s Racial Justice Work Group with community members and prosecutors
  • Studying racial disparities in the office and publishing the results from FIU researchers

Members of the public can access the Data Dashboard at sao13th.com/data.