The Criminal Justice Initiative at USC

In the recent month, the Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC), a project based in the USC Price Center for Social Innovation, partnered with Microsoft and the USC Safe Communities Institute to announce the NDSC Criminal Justice Data Initiative. This one-year project’s objective is to collect, aggregate, and disseminate data related to criminal justice and public safety across select communities of Los Angeles County.

To launch this initiative, the partner organizations hosted an introductory panel to highlight how criminal justice data interacts with other complex policy issues, particularly homeless, housing, economic stability, and education. By increasing transparency of this data and encouraging public engagement, efforts such as these could greatly improve public safety and community outcomes.

By leveraging and synthesizing data sets from regional partners and law enforcement agencies, NDSC can demonstrate how rates of citizen complaints, arrest, and officer turnover intersects with deeper issues of policy and public health. However, understanding how this all relates means nothing without communicating this to the public. Vice President of Civic Engagement Earl Paysinger pressed the need for a broader plan of outreach with the Los Angeles communities.

Future meetings will take place across the year, but this was certainly an exciting convening to be a part of. Coming from a purely STEM background, I was inspired to think more critically about how Los Angeles can improve. As with most social issues, a viscous cycle naturally occurs when funds are invested in the wrong places. Could we be spending the billions of dollars currently going into the detention system on neighborhood programs instead? Or are we just going to continue this cycle of increasing police presence, increasing arrests, and increasing the number of people locked up? Just some food for thought…

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