FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 8, 2019

CONTACT:
Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; will@safeandjust.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed a bill that will enhance data-driven policy development by making criminal justice data more transparent, accessible and reliable.

The bill, AB 1331, authored by Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice, will address data gaps and improve access to criminal justice data by establishing reporting requirements and clarifying existing law regarding access to information, enabling California to reach its full potential as a state committed to data-driven criminal justice operations and policy, as well as transparency.

California began regulating the collection of criminal justice data in 1955, when the legislature passed laws mandating the Department of Justice to collect criminal justice data from a wide variety of criminal justice agencies, including police departments, courts, district attorneys, probation departments, and others.

But the state’s criminal history records suffer from pervasive data gaps that undermine their accuracy and reliability, including missing and/or delayed arrest and case dispositions, missing information regarding failures to appear, and missing or incomplete sentencing information. Data limitations, as well as obstacles to accessing this data also undercut the state’s ability to analyze criminal justice policy proposals and interventions. Even as California pushes its criminal justice system to embrace major data-driven reforms, legislators are deprived of essential data and analysis to evaluate their impact.

Jerron Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice: “We can’t allow a failure to maintain up-to-date information to undermine our criminal justice system any longer. Accurate and reliable criminal justice data is crucial for ensuring that the system keeps our communities safe, treats everyone fairly and is able to evolve and improve based on data and emerging knowledge.”