Planning an Ethical Data Strategy for Justice Transformation

Steps, Tools and Lessons from the Los Angeles County Division of Youth Diversion and Development's Start-Up Year
Policy Paper
Oct. 31, 2019

Increasingly, jurisdictions across the United States are moving towards the reform or transformation of criminal and juvenile justice systems. While efforts have generally shown promise reducing system involvement and improving public safety, literature consistently calls for improvement to data infrastructure and strategy to support comprehensive evaluation of these promising models.

At the same time, data collected during these initiatives can pose tremendous risks to participants. If not properly protected, data can be used against the people an initiative aims to help. And, poorly crafted data practices may lead initiatives to focus on what can be measured, rather than on what really matters.

Justice transformation initiatives need comprehensive data strategies to realize the opportunities of data while minimizing risks. Over the past year, former PIT fellow Lauren Greenawalt worked with Los Angeles County’s Division of Youth Diversion and Development (YDD) to develop such a strategy for the YDD’s innovative, pre-booking youth diversion program. “Planning an Ethical Data Strategy for Justice Transformation”, co-authored with YDD’s research and policy manager, distills lessons learned from this partnership and presents steps and tools for other justice transformation efforts to follow when building their data strategy.

The toolkit proceeds in three phases. Phase I outlines how initiatives can draft data principles to guide their work, Phase II helps initiatives plan how they’ll use data to monitor and improve their initiative, and Phase III proposes steps initiatives can take to help reduce the risks of data. Each corresponding chapter outlines key steps in that phase, describes what those steps look like in practice, and concludes with an editable tool created to help initiatives complete the work in the phase. All editable tools are also available in a separate PDF file.

 PIT LA YDD Report and Toolkit.pdf  PIT LA YDD Tools Only