Projects: Developing and Sharing Juvenile Justice Data in New York State
In 2005, Vera collaborated with New York State to develop the state’s first ever set of juvenile justice indicators—statistics that provide insight into an organization’s work or the environment in which it operates. The indicators, which include detention admissions and placement lengths of stay, span five system points—arrest, referral to court, detention, court processing, and disposition—and offer statewide data as well as county-by-county information. CYJ staff assessed available juvenile justice data and statewide collection practices; compiled and analyzed available data to establish potential indicators; facilitated a task force to determine which indicators would be most useful to local and state policymakers; and established strategies for distributing and institutionalizing the indicators.
A Comprehensive View of Juvenile Justice
The project’s first report, Widening the Lens: A Panoramic View of Juvenile Justice in New York State, was released in 2007. Using data from 2004, it presents key observations from each of the state’s 62 counties and establishes a baseline for future reports. One key observation, for example, is that the disproportionate representation of black youth increases as youth advance through the juvenile justice system.
The second report, Widening the Lens 2008, uses data from 2004 to 2006 and reveals county and statewide system trends. The impact of the local reforms has been extremely positive to date. Between 2004 and 2008, Onondaga County witnessed a 62 percent decrease in its JD secure detention admissions and a 67 percent decrease in its non-secure detention admissions (JDs and PINS combined), yielding a savings of $1.7 million in the county’s 2008 budget. Similarly, Erie County showed a 39 percent decrease in its JD secure detention admissions and a 63 percent decrease in non-secure detention admissions (JDs and PINS combined) during the same period. After publication, Vera learned that the report reflected a discrepancy in some detention admissions data and produced an addendum to address this discrepancy.
Why This Project Matters
As in many other states, New York’s juvenile justice system is run by several agencies that each collect and report their own data. Until recently, this data had never been compiled or distributed to offer a comprehensive understanding of the system. This project sought to empower state agencies to report data back to counties in a systematic way that could improve local planning. CYJ staff are currently working with county officials from across New York to help them use these and future reports to shape juvenile justice policies and practices.
For more information, contact CYJ coordinator Anil Fermin.