Louisville partnered with Code for America in 2013 to create a justice system that is safe, fair, and effective.

2013 Fellowship in Louisville

In 2013, the City of Louisville and Jefferson County Criminal Justice Commission enlisted Code for America to work on criminal justice in the city. At the time, the system was stretched by crowding, budget cuts, and a complicated (often improvised) information technology infrastructure that ties together agencies at both the State and local levels. Led by CIO Beth Niblock and Criminal Justice Commission Director Kim Allen fellows Shaunak Kashyap, Marcin Wichary and Laura Meixell worked to build technological solutions that use data to help the many moving parts of the system better understand how their work drives outcomes for the community.

During residency, the fellows had an extraordinary opportunity to observe the criminal justice system up close. They rode along in police cars, sat in criminal court, spent late nights at the metro jail to assess current processes, and interviewed public service professionals at all levels. The group was so successful at connecting with the greater community that when they helped plan Louisville's National Day of Civic Hacking event, more than 60 community members attended.

As the Fellows learned during their residency, our criminal justice system is complicated by design and operates with a decentralized management structure. Elected Judges are state employees while corrections and police departments are funded and managed by local governments. The decisions that dictate who stays in jail and for how long are made by judges and prosecutors who sentence defendants only with reference to that individuals circumstances. When the jail becomes overcrowded, the Department of Corrections and thereby the Louisville Metro Government faces increased management costs, unsafe conditions, and risks potential legal action or sanctions from the state.

In Louisville, the Criminal Justice Commission brings together representatives of the partner agencies to discuss issues that affect them all including overcrowding. In 2013, the Criminal Justice Commission had only ad-hoc access to basic data about population, length of stay, bonding and other key statistics, that drive outcomes for metro corrections. The fellows saw an opportunity to work with these agencies, thinking about ways to standardize and share this information easily. The outcome was the Jail Population Management Dashboard. With ongoing and real time access to this basic data, judges, corrections staff, police, and the commission can discuss trends and assess the effects of policy changes.

Supporters

  • Louisville Bar Foundation

Civic Technology Community in Louisville

Since December 2012, the Louisville Code for America Brigade has focused on opening crime, restaurant, and permit data, creating interactive maps for the city, and advising on the city's open data portal launch back in October 2011. When the Civic Data Alliance was created in 2013 by Patrick Smith, Bret Walker, Chris Harrell and Michael Schnuerle to be a voice for citizens of Louisville, the two group saw an opportunity to work together. 

In May of 2014, the CDA merged with the Louisville Brigade and reached official Brigade status with Code for America in December 2014. They are focused on being a force for open data, hosting hackathons, coding education, and civic engagement. As of June 2015, over 300 volunteers have participated in hackathons, meetups, and events, and have donated over 6,000 hours of volunteer time to the community!