Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $225,000)
Recognizing the need for reliable data on criminal justice, in 2020 the New Jersey legislature passed a law requiring the Attorney General to “establish a program to collect, record, and analyze data regarding defendants in this State’s criminal justice system” (N.J.S.A. 52:17B-111.1); hereafter, “Chapter 120”), with an enumerated list of required fields in the statute. New Jersey’s Statistical Analysis Center program (SAC) is administered through the Office of Justice Data in the Office of the Attorney General (“OJD” hereafter), and accordingly is the entity charged by the Attorney General with implementing Chapter 120. Support from the 2022 State Justice Statistics Program grant has enabled the NJ SAC to bring together a substantial share of the data elements enumerated in Chapter 120 and to begin work on a public-facing summary of those data elements. However, some enumerated data elements remain to be collected, generally for one of two reasons. Some data sources are not yet connected to the Criminal Justice Data Warehouse, or the information is not collected at all, the collection was unstandardized, inconsistent, analogue only, or otherwise lacking. Among the second set are data on plea negotiations in addition to outcomes, which are not recorded in a usable data format, if at all. Under this award, the NJ SAC will augment its data collection and data processing infrastructure to add information on plea negotiation and outcomes, bringing the SAC closer to satisfying the statutory requirements of Chapter 120. This will expand the scope of the state’s public reporting of criminal justice data and support OJD in its function as the state SAC by increasing the range of questions that can be answered.