December 23, 2013
Recidivism Data Can Shape Justice Policies, Improve Courtroom Decision-Making And Enhance Public Safety
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt today launched the Data Analytic Recidivism Tool, or DART, a web-based application that allow users to analyze recidivism for specific sub-groups of New York City criminal defendants and help predict defendants’ likelihood of re-arrest. DART enables users, including criminal justice professionals, program planners and researchers to select a group of defendants based on factors like age, prior criminal history and details about their criminal cases. DART will then produce a graph displaying three different one-year re-arrest rates for the selected group, including the percentage re-arrested for any crime within a year; the percentage re-arrested for a felony within a year; the percentage re-arrested for a violent felony within a year; and a comparison to the citywide average. With the release of DART, New York City becomes the first city in the nation to provide a data tool that calculates and analyzes recidivism for defendant groups. DART is open to all online users, including the public, here.
“Data-driven decision-making has helped us reduce crime, prevent fire fatalities and reduce detention for low-risk youth in our juvenile justice system,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The DART application provides criminal justice policy makers and professionals with the ability to examine the data on recidivism and develop strategies that will keep New York City the safest big city in America.”
“For the first time, DART enables criminal justice decision-makers to analyze recidivism data,” said Criminal Justice Coordinator Feinblatt. “Prosecutors and defense attorneys can use facts about recidivism to assess plea and sentencing policies, and policy makers can use this tool to help allocate scarce criminal justice dollars where they are needed most.”
DART is based on data compiled by the City’s Criminal Justice Agency, which tracked re-arrests for roughly 230,000 adult defendants charged with crimes in New York City in 2009 for a year after their initial arrests. Approximately 33.4 percent of defendants citywide in 2009 were arrested for a new crime within a year, with 13.2 percent of defendants arrested for a felony and 4.7 percent of defendants arrested for a violent felony. Data for additional years will be added in the future, permitting users to track re-arrest trends over time.
“DART is an exciting initiative, because it provides hard numbers to use in debates about criminal justice policy; it can help criminal justice professionals modify policies to help reduce the risk to public safety; and it democratizes access to data so users can answer questions quickly and at no cost,” said Professor Franklin E. Zimring, University of California Berkeley School of Law.
“Focusing our resources on crime patterns and repeat offenders has been critical to bringing crime in New York to record-low levels,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “The DART application will shed even more light on recidivism trends and inform both academics and practitioners of criminal justice where and how to apply our efforts.”
“Over the years, the Queens District Attorney’s Office has emphasized offender accountability as part of our overall strategy to reduce crime in our county, resulting in a recidivism rate well below the citywide average,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “DART is a promising additional tool that will assist us and the court system to better identify those more likely to commit future crimes and to further our efforts to decrease recidivism.”
DART can be used to target both high-risk and low-risk populations. For example, DART helped identify a group of defendants with an extremely low re-arrest rate – more than 1,700 20-to-34-year-old females charged with petit larceny (shoplifting) were released after arrest with a Desk Appearance Ticket. Of these defendants, fewer than than 11 percent were re-arrested within a year and only 1.1 percent were re-arrested for a violent felony, far below citywide averages.
“The City’s new application provides systemic information that will enhance our provision of client representation in all five boroughs of New York City, and also for the first time makes data available to ensure that the criminal justice system overall is responsive to emerging trends,” said Steven Banks, the Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society. “We look forward to providing this new information to our front-line staff who practice every day in the courts.”
“DART represents the front line of innovation for putting data analytics on recidivism – a key criminal justice indicator – in the hands of policy makers and program staff,” said Jeremy Travis, President of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “This is a breakthrough of national importance. At John Jay College and other academic institutions, DART will become the way the next generation thinks about public safety and individual risk.”
“The City of New York has a track record of pioneering the use of data to change the way it does business – a true leader in the notion of data-driven local government,” said Abhi Nemani, Co-Executive Director of Code for America. “With DART, they have taken another bold leap forward in using data to inform policy making. This is the next front on smart, open, and clever cities."
DART builds upon the City’s success in using recidivism data to enhance decision-making and target resources among juveniles facing delinquency charges in Family Court. In 2006, the City implemented an instrument for risk assessment for youth in juvenile delinquency proceedings. Within the first three years, using this risk information in the courtroom reduced the number of youth in detention by 24 percent while reducing recidivism by 23 percent.
Some other findings generated by DART include:
Contact: Marc La Vorgna / Kamran Mumtaz (212) 788-2958