Amy Bach is using data to illuminate systemic injustices in our criminal legal system, empowering change-makers to address them.
“You can’t change what you can’t see.”
Over the decade that Amy Bach spent sitting in county courts as a journalist, preparing to write her award-winning book, “Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court,” these were the words that came to her mind again and again.
What Bach found was that even well-intentioned people working to reform the criminal-justice system could sometimes be so close to the problems that even they would fail to see them clearly. But good data, she discovered, could change that — giving advocates, communities, defense attorneys, and prosecutors a way to step back to see the 10,000-foot view.
So in 2011, Bach founded Measures for Justice, a nonprofit organization that collects, standardizes, and publicizes criminal-justice data from across the country, making it easier to compare outcomes, county by county. Today, with standardized data from 20 states on everything from bail rates, to length of sentences, and charge reductions, Measures for Justice is working to empower communities, courts, and practitioners with the information they need to create real, systemic change.
“When we can see where things go wrong,” Bach says, “we can work to make them right.”