Q&A with Jessica Smith
Author: Eh Mwee
I had the pleasure of talking with Jessica Smith, J.D., W. R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government and Director of the Criminal Justice Innovation Lab, about The North Carolina Criminal Information System that was created with the help of Odum’s Research Data Information Systems (RDIS) unit.
What is your goal in creating The North Carolina Criminal Information System?
We support stakeholders in their efforts to innovate new procedures to improve the criminal justice system. To do that, we need data, both to help stakeholders understand how current systems are functioning and to evaluate the impact of their efforts.
What made you reach out to Odum specifically?
We needed to create a digital database of criminal justice data. We approached Odum about that and they helped us create our North Carolina Criminal Information System, a comprehensive database of the North Carolina court system’s criminal case records.
Who contributed to creating the North Carolina Criminal Information System?
What was the importance of creating the North Carolina Criminal Information System?
That system fuels our engaged work with stakeholders, including our research to help them better understand state and local systems and our empirical evaluations to help them understand the impact of implemented reforms.
What was the impact of this project?
Last year we released a free online tool called the Measuring Justice Dashboard. The Dashboard helps stakeholders understand state and local systems, see where they are doing well, and spot areas that may need attention. We’re continuing to add metrics to the Dashboard. Currently, all of the data for the Dashboard comes from the North Carolina Criminal Information System, the database that Odum helped us create. We’re also using system data in ongoing policing and bail reform evaluation projects. Odum’s work has been critical to our projects and we view Jon and Matthew as part of the Criminal Justice Innovation Lab team.