Consolidated platform speeds criminal justice

Ohio builds sentencing database

The Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission is working with the University of Cincinnati to build the Ohio Sentencing Data Platform (OSDP), a searchable website of sentencing data to guide judges and court staff on sentencing decisions.

The OSDP -- which will be managed by the Information Technology Solutions Center at University of Cincinnati’s School of Information Technology -- will establish standardized data formats for compiling and tracking felony sentencing in all 88 Ohio counties. Built with $800,000 in funding from the court, the database will allow users to compare sentences across the state and see the broader demographics of those who are sentenced to identify race- or income-based inconsistencies, for example.

So far, 34 of the state’s 244 common pleas judges have opted into the program, which requires they fill out detailed forms on their sentences. More judges are signing up every week, according to Cleveland.com.

The platform is the first step to providing accessible and searchable information for judges making sentencing decisions and increasing transparency and accessibility for the public, journalists and researchers.

Until recently, Ohio didn’t have a central index on sentencing, so it was difficult to find the number of people sentenced for a specific felony in a given year, the sentences imposed for each felony offender, how many of those were imposed as a result of a plea bargain or how many offenders were placed on community supervision.

The data-driven OSDP project is designed to “tell the story” of sentencing in Ohio by providing understanding and analysis of the criminal justice system by providing statewide, reliable and accessible information on sentencing outcomes, university officials said.

“Those of us who have been entrusted with the duty to lead and to participate in the criminal justice system have an obligation to make sure there is public trust in that system and that the system delivers," Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said at the partnership’s launch. "Diverse justice for all. And data collection will make that happen.”

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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