In 2018 the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office created a new unit to track criminal justice measures on a consistent and ongoing basis. We make these metrics readily available to the public, and evaluate their effectiveness to create and revise policies to ensure public safety.
We call it the DATA Lab (District Attorney’s Transparency Analytics).
Unique among prosecutor offices nationwide, our DATA Lab undertakes original research, works as a research partner with research universities, and collects and analyzes data to inform our policies and procedures and measure our progress.
DATA LAB: OVERVIEW
The DATA Lab replaces fiction with facts.
The DATA Lab team is an interdisciplinary team of criminologists, lawyers, data analysts, GIS analysts, and researchers.
The Lab provides decision-makers throughout the District Attorney’s office with actionable intelligence pertaining to daily operations, along with strategic analysis to help us shape the criminal justice system’s larger policy direction.
The Lab provides public transparency to the work of this office, which has historically been lacking in prosecution offices nationwide.
The DAO is committed to opening the black box to promote accountability, not only in how we prosecute cases, but throughout the criminal justice system.
DATA LAB: PRIORITIES
The nature of the work undertaken by the DATA LAb is wide-ranging, but tends to focus around these key areas:
- The broader impact of the criminal justice system, how it impacts the long-term health of communities, and how our work can advance broader societal goals, such as fairness, equity and lower crime rates.
- Promoting transparency, including giving more thought to what data we collect and how we present it both internally, to inform our own decision-making, and externally, to advance public accountability.
- Offering our internal leadership and frontline prosecutors more information and analysis to help them inform their day-to-day actions and procedures.
DATA LAB: OUR APPROACH
We seek to connect, interact with, and share data with our peers and the broader community to gain critical insights, test our assumptions, and develop best practices.
We’re working to build a culture of research, encouraging data collection, analysis, and sharing throughout the District Attorney’s Office.
We also actively seek to build a wider network among local and national criminal justice stakeholders, social science researchers, reform advocates, and practitioners.
Partners include the Philadelphia Police Department, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Media Mobilizing Project, and the Youth Sentencing Project. These partnerships allow us to share data findings, collaborate on projects, and add to emerging new understandings in the field.
- Data sharing. We continually seek ways to make our data available to outside researchers while building relationships with partners to enrich our own data to present fuller pictures to our internal audiences. If you want to explore data sharing with us, contact us.
- Community partnerships. We help community-based groups and private foundations become better consumers and suppliers of vital criminal justice data. Contact us to explore how we could support your research interests.
- Research training. We provide basic training to criminal justice stakeholders to understand and set up best practices for mission-critical research and data collection in criminal justice reform. Contact us to set up a training.
- Academic support. We encourage and partner with universities around the country on criminal justice and general social science research projects. If you’re interested in seeing how we can partner with you and your students, contact us.