The GovLab Index: Crime and Criminal Justice Data

Please find below the latest installment in The GovLab Index series, inspired by Harper’s Index.

Previous installments of the Index include Prizes and Challenges, Measuring Impact with Evidence, The Data Universe, Participation and Civic Engagement and Trust in Institutions.

“The GovLab Index: Crime and Criminal Data” provides information about the type of crime and criminal justice data collected, shared and used in the United States. Because it is well known that data related to the criminal justice system is often times unreliable, or just plain missing, this index also highlights some of the issues that stand in the way of accessing useful and in-demand statistics.

Please share any additional statistics and research findings on the use of data within the criminal justice system with us by emailing Ryan at

Data Collections: National Crime Statistics

  • Number of incident-based crime datasets created by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): 2
  • Number of years the National Incident Based Reporting System has been in use and has supposed to have replaced the UCR: 28
  • Number of U.S. Statistical Agencies: 13
  • How many of those are focused on criminal justice: 1, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
  • Number of data collections focused on criminal justice the BJS produces: 61
  • Number of federal-level APIs available for crime or criminal justice data: 1, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
  • Frequency of the NCVS: annually
  • Number of Statistical Analysis Centers (SACs), organizations that are essentially clearinghouses for crime and criminal justice data for each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands: 53

Open data, data use and the impact of those efforts

  • Number of datasets that are returned when “criminal justice” is searched for on 417, including federal-, state- and city-level datasets
  • Number of datasets that are returned when “crime” is searched for on 281
  • The percentage that public complaints dropped after officers started wearing body cameras, according to a study done in Rialto, Calif.: 88
  • The percentage that reported incidents of officer use of force fell after officers started wearing body cameras, according to a study done in Rialto, Calif.: 5
  • The percent that crime decreased during an experiment in predictive policing in Shreveport, LA: 35  
  • Number of crime data sets made available by the Seattle Police Department – generally seen as a leader in police data innovation – on the website: 4:
    • Major crime stats by category in aggregate
    • Crime trend reports
    • Precinct data by beat
    • State sex offender database
  • Number of datasets mapped by the Seattle Police Department: 2:
    • 911 incidents
    • Police reports
  • The year the Tiahart Amendment prevented a firearms trace database from being made public: 2003  
  • Number of states where risk assessment tools must be used in pretrial proceedings to help determine whether an offender is released from jail before a trial: at least 11.

Police Data

  • Number of federally mandated databases that collect information about officer use of force or officer involved shootings, nationwide: 0
  • The year a crime bill was passed that called for data on excessive force to be collected for research and statistical purposes, but has never been funded: 1994
  • Number of police departments that committed to being a part of the White House’s Police Data Initiative: 21
  • Percentage of police departments surveyed in 2013 by the Office of Community Oriented Policing within the Department of Justice that are not using body cameras, therefore not collecting body camera data: 75
  • Number of state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States – each generating data separately – according to the most recent law enforcement agency census conducted by the BJS: 17,985

The criminal justice system

  • Parts of the criminal justice system where data about an individual can be created or collected: at least 6
    • Entry into the system (arrest)
    • Prosecution and pretrial
    • Sentencing
    • Corrections
    • probation/parole
    • recidivism


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