About Us

Our mission is to end mass incarceration and racial inequality. We do this by analyzing data that sheds light on the decisions and impacts of individual judges.

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Why focus on judges?

Judges possess immense power to shape the outcomes of criminal cases through their decisions, ranging from setting bail and ruling on violations of constitutional rights, to determining the length of sentences.

Why focus on state judges?

The problems of mass incarceration and racial inequality manifest first and foremost at the state level. State judges oversee over 99% of new criminal cases in the United States every year. 83% of the 1.9 million people incarcerated in the United States in 2020 were imprisoned or detained by state judges. In state prisons, Black individuals are incarcerated at nearly 5 times the rate of white individuals, while Latinx individuals are incarcerated at 1.3 times the rate of white individuals.

Why Is Judicial Transparency Important?

Transparency is a cornerstone of a robust democratic governance system. It helps build public trust, fosters accountability, and promotes informed citizen participation. When it comes to the transparency of the state judiciary and court administration, there are notable shortcomings due to gaps in current laws, practices, and prioritization. Since judicial data is a public good, there is a compelling public interest in making more judicial data publicly available.

Ensuring judicial transparency is especially vital in criminal cases, where individuals face severe consequences, such as the loss of liberty and potential deportation. Therefore, it is essential for the public to understand how legal issues related to these matters are reasoned and decided.

How Do You Promote Judicial Transparency?

We analyze data to highlight the decisions and impacts of individual judges.

  • For example, we analyzed a novel dataset of New York appellate decisions and identified ‘excessive sentencers’: lower court judges who have imposed exceptionally punitive sentences, so severe that even appellate judges could not uphold them. You can find these analyses here.

We advocate for increased access to judicial data.

  • For example, we filed Freedom of Information Law requests for sentencing data from the New York court system and other relevant agencies. You can find coverage of these and other initiatives here.


We welcome your questions and comments

Main Office

40 Rector Street, 9th Fl
New York, NY 10006

Telephone: 646.602.5600

Email: scrutinize@urbanjustice.org


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