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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Issues Statement on Governor Signing the Open Justice Data Act of 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released a statement applauding Governor Brown for signing Assembly Bill 2524, the OpenJustice Data Act of 2016, which was introduced by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) and sponsored by Attorney General Harris.  The new law will convert Crime in California and other annual reports published by the California Department of Justice into digital data sets which will be published on the Attorney General’s OpenJustice Web portal.

“Data and technology have the power to dramatically increase transparency and accountability in our criminal justice system,” said Attorney General Harris. “I applaud Governor Brown for signing this legislation into law, which will bring criminal justice data publication into the 21st Century.  I thank Assemblymember Irwin for standing with me to support the adoption of technology and data to improve our criminal justice system.” 

The OpenJustice Data Act builds on Attorney General Harris’s historic open data initiative, OpenJustice, to improve accountability and transparency in California’s criminal justice system.  The reports newly published in the OpenJustice Web portal will feature highlighted statistical summaries such as those currently included for numbers of arrests, complaints against peace officers, hate crime offenses, and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted.  Publication through the OpenJustice Web portal will transform the way criminal statistical information is presented to the public with interactive, accessible visualization tools, while making raw data available for public interest researchers. 

"Right now we are sitting on mountains of valuable criminal justice data that local law enforcement work hard to provide in the public interest.  We need to make sure that this information is available to the public and that we are using it effectively.  AB 2524 is a common-sense measure that will help bring California into the 21st century,” said Assemblymember Irwin.

Attorney General Harris first launched the OpenJustice initiative in 2015 as a mechanism for improving community trust in law enforcement, enhancing government accountability, and informing public policy. 

Earlier this year, the Attorney General announced the release of OpenJustice 1.1, which enriched the Web portal’s initial data sets with city, county, and state level context including population and demographic information, unemployment rates, poverty rates, and educational attainment levels.  In addition to providing greater transparency, this information enables policymakers to craft informed, data-driven public policy.

Attorney General Harris has announced that the Department of Justice will augment the OpenJustice Web portal with new criminal justice datasets created through recent legislation, including reports on racial and identity profiling (AB 953, Weber) and officer and civilian-involved uses of force (AB 71, Rodriguez). 

Attorney General Harris has also taken several steps to strengthen the trust between law enforcement and California communities.  She directed a 90-day Review of her Division of Law Enforcement’s policies on use of force and implicit bias, convened the state’s law enforcement leaders to share best practices through her 21st Century Policing Working Group, created the first POST-certified course on Procedural Justice and Implicit Bias in the U.S., and developed a pilot for body-worn cameras for DOJ Special Agents.

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