Loyola University Chicago

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Press Release - October 1, 2020

Press Release

Loyola University Chicago Researchers Help Develop Data Tools for Justice Reform
Performance Indicators will guide strategies, operations, and change in the justice system

CHICAGO, October 1, 2020—A ground-breaking collaboration between social scientists and prosecutors has developed a new Prosecutorial Performance Indicators (PPIs) tool that enables prosecutors’ offices to measure priorities and outcomes to advance effectiveness, fairness, efficiency, transparency, and public safety. The PPIs, a set of implementation guides, and a website with sample data from five prosecutor’s offices will be introduced this week.

The system was developed by researchers from Loyola University Chicago and Florida International University, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety & Justice Challenge.

The PPIs are 55 new measures of prosecutorial performance and success toward three goals: capacity and efficiency, community safety and well-being, and fairness and justice. These offer a complete toolbox to track office-wide progress over time as prosecutors advance reforms and best practices in the justice system. PPIs will help offices chart such indices as timely dispositions, racial and ethnic disparities, recidivism rates, and diversion outcomes. The measures are comprehensive, impact-oriented, and now available to any prosecutorial office across the nation.

Over the past three years, researchers from Loyola’s Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice partnered with prosecutors in four offices - Milwaukee County, WI; Cook County, IL; Tampa, FL; Jacksonville, FL – to explore the benefits of robust data collection and to help develop the PPIs.

The PPIs are “an effective way to understand the impact of prosecutorial decisions and practices on individuals, communities, and the general public,” said Don Stemen, associate professor of criminal justice and criminology in Loyola’s College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator on the project. “As more prosecutors promote a new vision of justice for the future, having comprehensive measures of performance are critical.”

The Loyola team – with Stemen, David Olsen, and Elizabeth Webster, all from the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology– have collaborated for the past two years with the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s offices. They gathered and analyzed data and conducted in-depth interviews with elected officials, staff attorneys, and prosecutors to help develop the metrics that focus on important indices of equity, fairness, efficiency, and effectiveness.

In addition to its utility in the justice system, the PPIs are an innovation growing out of a groundbreaking partnership between prosecutors and researchers aimed at promoting more effective, just, and transparent decision making in prosecution. It is an effort to work with prosecutors to be smart on crime, think about new ways to maximize public safety, enhance fairness, create a new system of accountability to the public, and address policy and practice to address inequities in the justice system. In the process, the project has a goal to advance both social science and prosecutorial practice. The project also aims to update the social science research on prosecution and sentencing using current quantitative and qualitative data from partner prosecutors’ offices.

“There are more than 2,300 local prosecutors’ offices in the United States, but very few have the internal capacity to do this kind of performance modeling,” said Stemen. “By building sustainable data collection, performance measurement, and communication practices for these jurisdictions, this project provides a set of blueprints that offices across the country can use to make their own internal improvements.”

Over the next two years, the project will begin working with prosecutors in Charleston, SC and Philadelphia, PA to implement the PPIs in additional sites. For more on the PPIs, visit prosecutorialperformanceindicators.org.

About Loyola University Chicago
Founded in 1870, Loyola University Chicago is one of the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic universities, with more than 16,600 students. Nearly 11,500 undergraduates call Loyola home. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy, as well as course locations in Saigon-Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Vernon Hills, Illinois (Cuneo Mansion and Gardens); and a Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, Illinois. The University features 14 schools, colleges, and institutes, including Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago, College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School, Institute of Environmental Sustainability, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, Quinlan School of Business, School of Communication, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, School of Education, School of Law, School of Social Work, and Stritch School of Medicine. Ranked a top national university by U.S. News & World Report, Loyola is also among a select group of universities recognized for community service and engagement by prestigious national organizations like the Carnegie Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service. To learn more about Loyola, visit LUC.edu, “like” us at Facebook.com/LoyolaChicago, or follow us on Twitter via @LoyolaChicago or @LoyolaNewsroom.