The Broward State Attorney’s Office has joined a network of nationally recognized researchers and prosecutors who are committed to increasing transparency and accountability by objectively measuring and analyzing prosecutorial practices.

Following through on Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor’s commitment to make the criminal justice system as transparent and accountable as possible, the Broward State Attorney’s Office is partnering with Florida International University (FIU) and Loyola University Chicago to measure Prosecutorial Performance Indicators (PPIs). This innovative partnership is part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which is funding the Broward research.

The project creates data dashboards that are shared with the public online. The neutral and objective information is then used to help analyze and measure prosecutorial decision making and its impact on communities. The research will help prosecutors to make smart decisions and analyze what works and what needs attention or improvement.

“Before I was sworn in, I promised to help reform the criminal justice system in smart ways that deliver equal justice to all and keep our communities safe,” Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said. “It will take time to conduct this research and implement changes but we are going to dig into the data so we can understand what works and what doesn’t work so well. Our goals are to address serious crime, improve our effectiveness, lower costs for taxpayers, and protect and serve victims while also reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system.”

The Prosecutorial Performance Indicators are 55 measures of performance that challenge and expand traditional measures of success in the field of prosecution. They emphasize the priorities of safety, community well-being, justice, equity and fairness for everyone affected by our criminal justice system.

Prosecutors and other staff members at the Broward State Attorney’s Office are eager to work with researchers and our community to examine how we do our jobs. Using neutral and objective data will allow us to analyze the fairness and effectiveness of how we handle cases from the time they are presented to us by police agencies, through the evaluation and decision-making process on whether charges should be formally filed, which charges would be appropriate, and how cases are handled through dismissal, referral to diversion programs, prosecution, pleas, trials and sentencing.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office is the seventh prosecutorial office in the US – and the third in Florida – to join the project. The six other offices that are already part of the project are based in Charleston, S.C., Chicago, Ill., Milwaukee, Wis., Philadelphia, Pa., and Jacksonville and Tampa in Florida.

“Success for prosecutors should be associated with more than convictions and harsh sentences,” said Aisha Edwards, program officer at the MacArthur Foundation. “The Prosecutorial Performance Indicators offer a holistic way to define success, data collection to measure progress, encourages collaboration with community members, and provides the tools needed to tackle racial inequities. This data-driven approach will help create a more equitable and effective criminal justice system.”

“It is an honor to assist State Attorney Harold Pryor’s historic administration in meeting their goals of transparency for the people of Broward County. He joins Florida State Attorneys Melissa Nelson and Andrew Warren in leading the work in our state to make data culture in prosecution the norm,” said Melba Pearson, Director of Policy and Programs for the Center for the Administration of Justice at FIU and a co-manager of the PPI project.

“As more and more prosecutors are seeking guidance about how to use data to bring about a new vision for justice, it is time for researchers and prosecutors to work together in close partnerships. We look forward to working with the Broward State Attorney’s Office,” said Besiki Kutateladze, a criminology professor at Florida International University and lead researcher on the project.

The indicators look at nine objectives for a prosecutor’s office, from increasing timely handling of cases, to reducing racial and ethnic disparities, to expanding community outreach and engagement. They help create a multilayered and holistic assessment that moves beyond individual cases to determine broader impacts and effectiveness. They also allow prosecutors to discern trends, learn about progress and anticipate problems.

It will, of course, take time to set up the process and undertake the analysis of so many cases but this is a long-term commitment to improvement and change. State Attorney Pryor will create a Community Advisory Board for this project to seek input, ideas and feedback from community members and experts.

About the partners:

PPI team includes: Besiki Kutateladze, Florida International University; Don Stemen, Loyola University Chicago; Rebecca Richardson Dunlea, Florida International University; Melba Pearson, Florida International University; Ana Carazo, Florida International University; Lin Liu, Florida International University; Branden DuPont, Medical College of Wisconsin; David Olson, Loyola University Chicago.

Florida International University is Miami’s only public research university. Designated a top-tier research institution, FIU emphasizes research as a major component in its university mission. FIU is among the top 10 largest universities in the nation. Of its 54,000 students, 67% are Hispanic and 12% are Black.

Loyola University Chicago, a private university founded in 1870 as St. Ignatius College, is one of the nation’s largest Jesuit, Catholic universities. Loyola is among a select group of universities recognized for community service and engagement by prestigious national organizations including the Carnegie Foundation.

Contact: Paula McMahon, spokeswoman for the Broward State Attorney’s Office
[email protected] or 954-831-7910