National Crime Prevention Month 2023: Using Data to Reduce Recidivism

Contributing Author: Mary Elizabeth Myrick, Content Marketing Coordinator, CivicEye

Photo Credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

It’s officially October, which means that it’s National Crime Prevention Month!

Across prosecution offices, many prosecuting attorneys are continuously working to incorporate future-thinking, preventative considerations within their prosecution strategies. While a prosecutor’s work largely takes place within the courtroom, a prosecuting attorney’s approach to sentencing can drastically alter the course of future crime events.

One of the biggest ways that prosecutors can prevent community crime is through reducing recidivism. A 2018 study from the U.S. Office of Justice Program’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that “five out of six state prisoners were rearrested within nine years of their release.” Particularly, this statistic was gathered after pooling prisoners across 30 states and monitoring recidivism rates from 2009 to 2018.

The takeaway? In the scenario above, if previous offenders did not slip into recidivism, an astounding 5 of 6 crimes would potentially not have occurred.

In this blog, we’ll consider how appropriate sentencing for rehabilitation and diversion can better support offenders and directly reduce recidivism. Additionally, we’ll explore how technology like case management systems can help prosecutors quickly access the data they need when suggesting sentencing — allowing prosecutors to make data-driven decisions.

Factors to Consider During Sentencing

As briefly mentioned above, when building a case, it’s important for prosecuting attorneys to carefully review all existing data on an offender. This can help a prosecutor consider the best sentence to help effectively reduce recidivism.

Now, here are some factors to take into consideration when reviewing data on an offender:

Criminal History

An individual’s criminal history can help prosecutors identify patterns of behavior. This includes looking at the type and frequency of past offenses. Individuals with a history of non-violent or low-level offenses, for example, may be candidates for diversion or rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration.

Geographic Information

Geographic data can help prosecutors identify high-crime areas or hotspots. This can assist in targeting resources and interventions in communities with elevated crime rates and addressing the environmental factors contributing to criminal behavior.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Data

Access to data on an individual’s mental health history or substance use issues can guide prosecutors in referring them to appropriate treatment programs rather than punitive measures.

Demographic and Socioeconomic Data

Analyzing demographic and socioeconomic data can provide insights into an individual’s risk factors. Factors like poverty, lack of education, or unstable housing can contribute to criminal behavior. Prosecutors can use this information to connect individuals with social services and support programs addressing their specific needs.

When examining the factors listed above, prosecutors can consider if a rehabilitative program can help an offender better re-integrate into society and gather the tools needed to be successful.

Of course, it’s important to note that prosecuting attorneys have the immense responsibility to use data accurately and ethically while working with at-risk individuals. Additionally, data privacy and security considerations must also be paramount, particularly when handling sensitive information.

How Technology Can Help Prosecutors Leverage Data

Considering all of the data sets listed above, how can prosecutors access the data they need, when they need it?

In an age when many prosecution offices still rely on physical filing methods or outdated legacy systems, how can data be made accessible for prosecutors?

Centralized Data

Case management systems technology can help prosecutors easily keep and store all the information they need in a streamlined, highly searchable database. Instead of spending valuable time sifting through physical files or toggling between different hard drives, a cloud-based case management system can allow prosecutors to securely manage all of the data they need on a single platform.

This makes it easier for prosecutors to immediately access necessary information on offenders, their criminal history, and more.

Construct Compelling Exhibits

With meticulously documented convictions, charges, and up-to-date information readily accessible through these systems, prosecutors can efficiently build exhibits that underscore the defendant’s history. This ability to seamlessly weave together a narrative of past offenses not only strengthens their case but also aids in persuading judges and juries and seeking justice for victims of crime.

This prepares prosecutors to craft well-informed arguments, anticipate potential defense strategies, and present a cogent case, ultimately working toward the goal of securing just convictions and addressing the issue of recidivism more effectively.

Photo Credit: August de Richelieu on Pexels

Collaboration with Law Enforcement

Case management systems can also help prosecutors share information with law enforcement partners. Instead of sending information back and forth physically, prosecutors can digitally request information from law enforcement agencies.

Likewise, law enforcement agencies can securely upload all necessary information into prosecutors’ case management systems through a user-specific login portal.

Instead of drawn-out communication cycles, case management systems can allow law enforcement and prosecutors alike to access, upload, and request information whenever and wherever they need it, digitally. This makes quality collaboration on cases easier and can provide prosecutors with a more well-rounded approach when working to reduce recidivism.

The Importance of Data-Sharing Technology to Reduce Recidivism

Prosecuting attorneys can use technology to make their data more accessible and therefore applicable in their necessary work. With case management system technology, prosecutors can centralize their software solutions to make locating necessary information easy and fast.

Additionally, prosecutors can request and store data from law enforcement agencies directly in their case management system, effectively streamlining law enforcement and prosecution communications.

With this data access, prosecutors can make data-driven decisions that fuel their prosecution approaches, thereby working to reduce recidivism through informed strategies. In this way, scalable technology can empower prosecutors and law enforcement agencies alike to equip their teams with tools to better understand and access data, all in hopes of creating a more just and equitable future.

To learn more about case management system technology and CivicEye’s case management solution CivicCase for Prosecutors, click here.

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National District Attorneys Association

The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) is the oldest and largest national organization representing state and local prosecutors in the country.