While data could be the key to successful pretrial practices, most Illinois counties are lacking when it comes to systematic data collection and analysis processes, according to a preliminary report from the Data Subcommittee of the Pretrial Practices Data Oversight Board (the Board).
The Board was created with the signing of the SAFE-T Act and convened by Marcia M. Meis, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC), to develop a strategy to oversee the collection and analysis of data on pretrial practices in the Illinois circuit court system.
In their preliminary report, which was released on July 1, the Board wrote that counties may not have the resources needed to perform systematic analyses, like adequate case management and reporting systems, dedicated IT professionals, knowledge of what analyses should be performed, or funds to create new reports.
The report also details how the AOIC is working with Tyler Technologies Socrata to integrate with local court case management systems, expand existing application programming interfaces where possible, and build new integrations with probation and pretrial departments.
Will pretrial data analysis improve Illinois courts?
To identify pretrial data collection processes in local jurisdictions, the Board administered a survey of sheriff’s offices in Illinois’ 102 counties.
The survey assessed sheriff’s offices’ ability to provide data that the AOIC is required to collect per the Pretrial Fairness Act and to better understand their role in the processing of arrestees, how pretrial detainees are transported to court, and the use/capacity for jails to conduct video conferencing for court hearings.
Quality data collection, according to the Board, is critical to further transparency, informed policy decision-making, and meaningful criminal justice system analysis. The data collected can educate judges, attorneys, and court staff about an individual’s experience with the justice system prior to appearing in court.
Standardizing data collection can also reduce burdens on individual courts while ensuring better accuracy and interpretations, the report says.
“Data collection and analysis will be key to the success of pretrial practices in Illinois,” Meis said in a press release. “This report, thanks to the hard work of everyone on the Board, will help provide the foundation for that success.”
About the Pretrial Practices Data Oversight Board
The Board was created “to oversee the collection and analysis of data regarding pretrial practices in circuit court systems.” Meis convened the Board in July 2021 and held the inaugural meeting in August 2021.
Since then, the Board has met monthly to complete its work, which includes four distinct charges:
- Identify existing pretrial data collection processes in local jurisdictions.
- Define, gather, and maintain records of pretrial data from applicable criminal justice system agencies.
- Identify resources necessary to systematically collect and report data as defined in the Act.
- Develop a plan to implement data collection processes sufficient to collect data as defined in the Act starting July 1, 2022.
Moving forward, the Board will continue to meet quarterly to support further advancements in the collection of pretrial data, per 20 ILCS 3930/7.7(c). For updates, visit the Illinois Supreme Court’s website.
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