Criminal justice professionals can now engage in discussion, collaboration, and knowledge sharing thanks to the Data Justice Network (DJN).

DJN, launched in January, is looking to break down silos and foster peer-to-peer learning among criminal justice practitioners and policymakers. Created by the Governance Lab (GovLab) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, the network also helps officials get fast and comprehensive answers to their questions about how to make better use of data to reduce incarceration and crime.

Criminal justice practitioners can use the website to search for and connect with colleagues who have relevant experience, ask and answer questions, and track their own knowledge of innovative ways of using data at all stages of the criminal justice process, according to a press release announcing the launch.

(Image: Data Justice Network) Criminal justice professionals can list their skills and expertise and be matched with colleagues who need assistance.

“Criminal justice data are collected by multiple agencies, stored in different formats, and maintained in various systems,” said Matt Alsdorf, vice president of criminal justice at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which provided support for the website.

“The lack of data coordination makes it difficult for jurisdictions to analyze information and evaluate the effect of their local criminal justice policies. We are pleased to support the Data Justice Network and believe that it can help to address this issue and make it easier for communities to use data and predictive analytics to safely reduce their jail populations.”

GovLab partnered with The Justice Management Institute and designed the website with ease of use in mind and kept the platform simple and intuitive.

(Image: Data Justice Network) The site allows professionals to share best practices and ask questions regarding how jurisdictions can become more data driven.

“We hope practitioners will sign up, share their knowledge, and learn from one another to improve our criminal justice system and the communities it serves,” said Elaine Borakove, president of the Justice Management Institute.

Advisory support came from leaders of Code for America, the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, the National Association of Counties, and heads of criminal justice coordinating councils in 22 jurisdictions.

“Being able to use data effectively and responsibly is extraordinarily important,” said Beth Simone Noveck, GovLab director and the Jerry M. Hultin Global Network Professor at NYU Tandon. “Data can help policymakers understand past performance of public policies and services–both their efficiency and their disparate impact. More data enables the delivery of more tailored interventions in the present by making it possible, for example, to identify and divert someone suffering from mental illness or substance abuse into appropriate treatment and out of jail. Better access to data even helps with foretelling future outcomes such as predicting who is likely to recidivate.”

DJN is open to criminal justice policymakers and practitioners.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs