Florida’s Prosecutors Launch the State’s First Prosecutorial Performance Indicators’ Dashboards

By: Melissa Nelson

Courts Innovation Fund Prosecutors December 17, 2020

We are elected prosecutors from the two coasts of Florida. As prosecutors, we are charged with making decisions on each case based on the merits of that case. Rarely do we look beyond the individual cases in front of us to understand the aggregate impact or trends of our individual decisions. We believe that prosecutorial success lies in the balance between making the best case-level decisions and gauging the cumulative effects of those decisions on community safety and well-being.  Indeed, appreciating the bigger picture is critical to developing evidence-based solutions to promote public safety, build trust in the criminal justice system, and ensure all people are treated equally.

Though we sit on opposite sides of the political aisle, we both took office four years ago sharing the common goals of establishing transparent, accountable, equitable and efficient prosecutor offices.

In 2017, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety & Justice Challenge, our offices, along with those in Chicago and Milwaukee, began a partnership with Florida International University and Loyola University Chicago to develop a set of measures—the Prosecutorial Performance Indicators (PPIs)—that track office-wide progress over time to advance these shared objectives.

The PPIs are intended to help prosecutors measure priorities and outcomes across their offices, including timely dispositions, racial and ethnic disparities, recidivism rates, and diversion outcomes. PPIs are comprehensive, impact-oriented, and available to any prosecutorial office across the nation.

We are proud to launch our prosecutorial data dashboards—the first of their kind in Florida—which post the PPIs. Only a handful of prosecutorial offices nationally have such transparency and analytical tools. With these public dashboards, the public too will have an opportunity to gauge our success in meeting certain objectives and pose questions about our work.

This tool affords prosecutor offices the chance to meet the mounting challenges we all face in the criminal justice system with data informed solutions.  Simply, it offers a way to do things differently—and better.