Today, Sunlight is launching Hall of Justice, a robust, searchable data inventory of nearly 10,000 datasets and research documents from across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government. Hall of Justice is the culmination of 18 months of work gathering data and refining technology.
The process was no easy task: Building Hall of Justice required manual entry of publicly available data sources from a multitude of locations across the country.
Sunlight’s team went from state to state, meeting and calling local officials to inquire about and find data related to criminal justice. Some states like California have created a data portal dedicated to making criminal justice data easily accessible to the public; others had their data buried within hard to find websites. We also found data collected by state departments of justice, police forces, court systems, universities and everything in between.
“Data is shaping the future of how we address some of our most pressing problems,” said John Wonderlich, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “This new resource is an experiment in how a robust snapshot of data can inform policy and research decisions.”
What we learned
Throughout the creation of Hall of Justice, we explored policy questions related to criminal justice data, such as the privacy implications of publishing microdata and the wide variation among states in criminal data production practices.
According to Sunlight Research Analyst Damian Ortellado, who helped gather the data for Hall of Justice, “The inventory is a way to showcase potential issues with criminal justice data and highlight the need for more uniform and accessible information. It helps us know what is missing versus what is available. In turn, this has a lot of potential to inform the current discussion on criminal justice.”
To learn more about our work, visit our Criminal Justice page, which contains policy analyses and reporting on the world of criminal justice data.
How do you use it?
Hall of Justice is a first-of-its-kind, publicly available resource for various types of criminal justice data and research. Think of it like a search engine and snapshot of an 18-month effort to gather as many publicly available datasets as possible. We have tagged various datasets with categories that range from domestic violence to death in custody to prison populations.
The resource attempts to consolidate different terminology across multiple states, which is far from uniform or standardized. For example, if you search solitary confinement you will return results for data around solitary confinement, but also for the terms “segregated housing unit,” “SHU,” “administrative segregation” and “restrictive housing.” This smart search functionality makes finding datasets much easier and accessible.
As with all of Sunlight’s tools and projects we want you to use Hall of Justice to explore the data that’s out there in a more accessible way.
If you have questions about the project, or would like more information, please contact our communications team.