Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $339,563)
The District Attorney’s Office of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, is pleased to submit this proposal, in close collaboration with New York University, to support a project titled Prosecuting Smartly and Fairly Using Data We Can Act on and Share With Our Community. This application to BJA is to help us address a critical challenge in our office: access to our own data, in a format we can make sense of and use, in real time. The project will enhance transparency, fairness, and justice in Winnebago Co. through data-informed prosecution and community engagement.
Without access to real-time data, we will never be able to serve our community as well as we should, both in addressing serious crime and in avoiding unnecessary justice-system processing and incarceration. And, very importantly, without timely access to data, we will never be able to reliably see and address disparities as they happen and will instead have to be content making excuses and apologizing for them in the future.
This project will support the creation of sustainable data infrastructure and improved in-house research capacity, enhancing our ability to engage with data to better understand our processes and improve them. Project activities include: (1) needs assessment, (2) creation of customized software to automate analysis and visualization of the data that are maintained in our statewide databases, (3) creation of a public-facing website that hosts data tools to inform the public and to hold us accountable for our performance in meeting the goals of our office, (4) community engagement in two Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs) in the City of Oshkosh, which are high-poverty and impacted with disproportionate crime rates. In establishing ourselves as an office that uses data to inform our operations and measure performance, members of our community should have a voice in deciding what counts. Community members will offer their perspectives on what success looks like for a prosecutor office and on what should be counted. Their input and feedback will also be solicited on public-facing data tools that aim to keep our community informed.
By the end of the project, we will have substantially increased the use of data in our office. Our county will benefit beyond the project period and, as we draw on statewide systems, the benefits will extend beyond our county; data- and caseflow-management tools developed under this award will be available to prosecutor offices throughout Wisconsin.