Douglas County Sheriff’s Office unveils updated jail data dashboard; DA’s dashboard in the works

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Plus more news and notes from Tuesday’s CJCC meeting

Eighty percent of the people incarcerated in the Douglas County jail are there pretrial — meaning they haven’t been convicted and are presumed innocent.

That’s just one takeaway from the inmate population data dashboard from the sheriff’s office. 

Matt Cravens, data analyst for the Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, walked members through how the data dashboard works Tuesday. He showed how it allows a view of some data of interest, such as racial disparities in booking and incarceration rates. 

It’s not realtime, but it shows the time served of those in the jail, the types of offenses of which they’re accused, average time that all currently incarcerated people have been in the jail (4.5 months), and more. 

The updated inmate population dashboard is available at this link

Another update allows the public to download the data from the bookings and offenses dashboard. That’s available at this link. The county also has a Stepping Up Initiative dashboard, regarding incarceration of those with serious mental illness, here, and a bond data dashboard here

And the district attorney’s office will have a dashboard available soon, Dillon Waugh, IT specialist, said Tuesday. It will show a variety of statistics for the office and cases it’s handling, including total cases filed over time, demographics of those charged, breakdowns of crimes by type, statute, and charge level — meaning misdemeanors versus felonies — and more. 

Future goals to add to the dashboard include more information about DUIs, Child In Need of Care (CINC) cases, data on charging decisions, meaning which cases are charged and which aren’t, and a heat map to show where incidents are occurring, Waugh said. 

Other notes from the meeting: 

• Videos of searches: During the August CJCC meeting, researchers shared some results of an ongoing law enforcement contact study, which showed that People of Color are twice as likely to be searched when they’re stopped by law enforcement in Douglas County, but less likely to be found with some sort of contraband. Some members expressed concerns about stops in which people were searched and nothing was found, and why those searches would happen in the first place. 

Sheriff Jay Armbrister said Tuesday that he had reviewed 25 videos of such stops, and he would be willing to bring any interested CJCC member in to review them, too, “because I found absolutely nothing that made me believe that unconscious or conscious bias had anything to do with the searches,” he said. Defense attorney Shaye Downing said she would be interested in viewing those videos. 

• Failures to appear: Members heard an update from Claudia Fisher, adult services officer with Community Corrections, on failures to appear in court and efforts to mitigate that problem. Missing hearings can lead to defendants getting arrested and booked into jail. 

In recent years, both the Douglas County District Court and Lawrence Municipal Court have started efforts such as reminder phone calls to try to get defendants to make it to court when they’re scheduled. 

Douglas County Undersheriff Stacy Simmons and Captain LeRonda Roome interviewed some people incarcerated at the jail and found that some barriers to appearing in court included lack of childcare, homelessness, not having a phone, addiction, anxiety about what hearings mean and feeling like nothing gets accomplished. 

Some suggestions that emerged from those interviews include contacting a friend or someone who defendants contact regularly with reminders, and free bus rides to get to court if riders show their paperwork. Recently completed goals included providing the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center’s Homeless Outreach Team with docket schedules, and adding reminder cards in each court division for attorneys to fill out and give to their clients. 

The next six months of court hearings can be found online, generally at this link, though it appeared at publication time Wednesday morning that the court’s website was in the midst of some updates. 

• New coordinator needed: Tuesday was Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer’s last meeting with the CJCC. He’ll be moving on to a new opportunity. The job opening is posted at this link, and applications are due Oct. 8. 

The next CJCC meeting is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12. Agendas are posted at this link.

View the full September meeting: 

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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