Under a new law that takes effect July 1, Florida will begin consolidating criminal justice data from multiple agencies, including prisons, law enforcemers, and courts, into a single data base that will make the information easier to access and analyze, reports the Capitol News Service. Lawmakers call it the gold standard in crime reporting. The goal is to get a better understanding of criminal justice trends in the state to help inform policy decisions. The new system will require law enforcement agencies, court clerks, state attorneys, public defenders, jails and the Department of Corrections to submit statistics to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The data will be available to the public on FDLE’s website.
Florida has the third-largest prison population in the country, costing taxpayers $2.3 billion a year. Barney Bishop of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance said that a long view of better data will bring into relief certain trends that may not be apparent now–for example, whether the system is discriminatory. Agencies that fail to comply with the new reporting requirements can be declared ineligible for state funding for up to five years.