The Hillsborough County Prosecutor’s Office today released a publicly available dashboard that includes data on how that office is going on prosecuting money transfers to convictions. The aim of the portal is to provide objective measures for the performance of the 13th judicial district beyond the conviction and crime rate.
“Transparency creates trust. It’s that simple, “Hillsborough County Attorney Andrew Warren told Spectrum Bay News 9 on Thursday.” We want to make sure that everyone from every neighborhood and background can have more confidence in our criminal justice system. “
Warren says there are three main goals in publishing the data:
1) Show the public how good they are at increasing the safety and wellbeing of the community.
2) Ensure fairness and equity.
3) Use taxpayers money effectively and efficiently.
The Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office has worked for the past two and a half years with a team led by criminology professors from Florida International University and Loyola University on the Prosecutorial Performance Indicators project. They got access to analyze hundreds of thousands of files on Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit.
Hillsborough is one of four prosecutors across the country that are part of the project. The others are Florida’s 4th District of Justice (which includes Jacksonville) and the Chicago and Milwaukee district attorneys. The project is funded by a $ 1.7 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.
Hillsborough’s dashboard will track 23 “indicators,” but Warren hopes to keep increasing the indicators over the next year so the customs officer can better understand how his office is working and where more work is needed.
Among the indicators listed are differences in the discharge of cases based on the victim’s race and / or ethnicity. It shows that black victims of crime are 6% more likely to be dismissed than the overall average. Hispanic victims are only 1% more likely to have their cases turned down.
The data also shows that court cases for violent crimes leading to acquittal rose in 2019 compared to the previous year.
“The dashboard identified a few areas where we need to do better,” admits Warren, adding that “a lot of the data raises more questions than answers, but it’s a starting point for some really important introspection for us to do can do better work every day. ”
Warren was re-elected as prosecutor last month for his second term of four years. He ran on a criminal justice reform platform when he defeated 16-year-old GOP incumbent Mark Ober in 2016.
This platform was noted by Besiki Kutateladze, the Florida International University professor who leads the PPI project. He said his group had two criteria for selecting prosecutors as part of the proposal – one was that they had to be ready to publish the data.
“Prosecutors are not known for transparency and making data public is a completely unprecedented move,” he says. “What Mr. Warren and Melissa Nelson (the Jacksonville District Attorney) are doing today is unprecedented in Florida, and only a handful of jurisdictions have done it nationally. So you have to commit to making data public … and you have to commit to assessing racial and ethnic differences across multiple decision points. We felt Andrew Warren’s office met this requirement and we look forward to working with him. “
Warren has proactively increased transparency in his office this year.
In response to protests in Tampa calling for more police accountability and racial equality following the death of George Floyd, he announced a series of proposals in October. These plans included the setting up of a Race Investigation and Law Enforcement Task Force at Hillsborough; Publication of reviews and results of fatal violent incidents; Recruiting minority prosecutors and engaging in community.