Pennsylvanian legislators have proven willing to pioneer justice reform. A data-driven dashboard is now tracking prisoners' and parolees' ethnic and racial profiles in the name of reform.
The goal of the dashboard: To allow lawmakers to make informed policy decisions and reduce inequities in the justice system.
Recidiviz: A New Way to Track Incarcerated Populations in PA
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced in late July 2021 the state's partnership with nonprofit Recidiviz and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC). The partnership's crown jewel is a universally accessible dashboard housing up-to-date data about Pennsylvania's imprisoned and paroled populations.
Known as Recidiviz, the dashboard’s purpose is to “Provide open source tools for real-time monitoring and analysis,” “Standardize metrics across national, state, and local jurisdictions,” and “Integrate this data and tooling to enable outcome-based decision making.”
Translation: Recidiviz provides a single access point for lawmakers and concerned citizens to see what the heck is going on in Pennsylvania's criminal justice system.
What Does Recidiviz Track?
When you examine the Recidiviz dashboard for Pennsylvania, you'll find data organized into three primary categories:
- Racial Disparities
Data under the Prisons subsection includes:
- The race, ethnicity, and gender of prisoners in state correctional institutions (SCIs)
- The age groups of prisoners in SCIs
- The total number of prisoners in SCIs
- How prisoners ended up in SCIs (new admissions, parole violations, or “other” reasons)
- The historical trend of total prisoners in Pennsylvania's SCIs
Recidiviz offers additional data specific to Pennsylvania prisons. Under the Parole subsection, the dashboard shows users:
- The race, ethnicity, gender, and age ranges of paroled individuals in Pennsylvania
- The historical trend (a steady rise) in the total number of parolees in the state
- The leading drivers of an increasing population of parolees
- The success rate for parolees (and the definition of “success” in this context)
The last subsection of the Recidiviz dashboard, Racial Disparities, displays data regarding:
- A racial and ethnic breakdown of Pennsylvania's total population
- A racial and ethnic breakdown of Pennsylvania's incarcerated and paroled populations
- The impact of “community supervision” on racial disparities in the state's justice system
These subsections provide easy access to the numbers. The greater question is how lawmakers will use Recidiviz in crafting reform-minded legislation.
How Recidiviz May Reduce Racial Disparities in PA's Justice System
The inclusion of “Racial Disparities” as a subheader on Recidiviz indicates the dashboard's clear goal: Justice reform. More specifically, as U.S. News & World Report explains, the goal of Recidiviz is to “reduce incarceration with a focus on racial inequities.”
The general idea is that Recidiviz will increase awareness of racial disparities in the Pennsylvania justice system. With such ease of access to hyper-recent data, the general population may demand change from lawmakers. Those lawmakers may be inclined to enact reform-driven legislation when faced with the data provided by Recidiviz.
Dealing With a Criminal Matter in Pennsylvania?
As a firm that specializes in criminal defense, the Lento Law Firm is encouraged by data-driven reform solutions like Recidiviz. However, the reality is that Recidiviz is a step towards potential solutions. If you are facing incarceration, are seeking parole, or have another criminal issue, you need legal help now.
Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to receive the defense that you deserve. You can also contact us online here.