Showing posts from June, 2013

The “What Ifs” Along the Road in the Quest of a Justice Index

What if we could draw an indicator of the “health” of the justice systems throughout the United States – a Justice Index - from readily available public data that is impartial, reliable, objective and comparable, let’s say the amount of time that criminal defendants spend in custody without a trial, or even without any access to legal or justice services? Or the bail amounts imposed on misdemeanor defendants?
This kind of a measure would not be perfect – no measure is – but it would be something, better than nothing. It would address questions of fairness and efficient use of public resources. That is, a criminal defendant languishing in jail awaiting trial suffers, at the least, a delay in justice. He or she is also occupying a jail bed and spending taxpayers’ money.
What if we then join this measure with another meaningful indicator of the health of our justice systems in counties and states, let’s say the degree to which jurisdictions prosecute domestic violence cases. That would b…