A message from State's Attorney Foxx:
Since taking office on December 1, 2016, I have sought to share the work of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office with the public in new ways. We are the second-largest prosecutor's office in the country and we receive more than 30,000 felony cases each year, but we have historically done an inadequate job releasing even simple resources for the public we serve to understand our work and hold us accountable. That must change. Transparency is not only our obligation as civil servants, but critical to efficiently and effectively fulfilling our public safety mission: Our work must be grounded in data and evidence, and the public should have access to that information.
Releasing the same information we use to make decisions in ways that enable members of the public to do their own rigorous analysis is at the heart of data transparency. We have begun to do that, and will continue to do so on an ongoing basis. It is not enough just to make data available without context or support, though, and we have also begun to offer training workshops to empower community members to engage with the data themselves, regardless of technical background. Finally, we will also continue to release annual Data Reports, so that technical expertise will never be a requirement for understanding the SAO's work.
These are all important steps I'm proud to take. I am also eager to continue to innovate and expand both the role of data in SAO policymaking and the opportunities to open doors for the community using data. I welcome community members' input, analysis, and creativity as we work to reduce the incidence of gun violence and the population of our jails and prisons and expand access to community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment.
And as we cover this new ground, it's important to keep in mind that criminal justice data and analysis, whether from within or outside the SAO, will not always offer good news — and when we find problems, solutions will not take effect overnight. We cannot let those realities slow us down or deter us. In order to effectively uphold public safety, we must earn and maintain the public's trust, and that depends on an honest reckoning with the facts on the ground.
The data we release will be of interest to a wide range of people outside the SAO, from community activists to law enforcement professionals, but at the end of the day, the criminal justice system is fundamentally human enterprise. Data is simply a powerful tool for us to ask better questions and create better outcomes for the individual people and communities we serve. I am proud to lead the SAO's team of civil servants, who live that mission every day.