Using Data to Promote Reform

Deaths in Louisiana Jails and Prison

Prisons and jails are notoriously closed institutions and particularly here in Louisiana. There is no statewide independent oversight agency for prisons or even locally for jails. Both the governor of Louisiana and the Secretary of Public Safety and Corrections have publicly stated that they do not have the power to ensure greater transparency of jails, either because they lack the necessary staffing/structure and because Louisiana law specifically recognizes the authority of local sheriffs for jail administration.

Louisiana is also a leading state for prison and jail mortality according to statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Justice. While helpful for understanding prison and jail mortality trends nationwide, the U.S. Department of Justice data does not identify specific facilities or provide data in its reports on facilities within states.
To remedy this gap in transparency (and potentially make the broader case for accountability), students at Loyola Law filed public records requests on every single detention facility (private, local, state, and juvenile) in the State for any and all records related to deaths in custody from 2014 to present. We anticipate having data finalized in December, but initial returns show a couple of interesting issues for future study and policy.

  • Andrea Armstrong, J.D., Law Visiting Committee Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Texas Justice Institute's Data Initiatives

In 2015, lawmakers passed legislation that required agencies to report shootings to the state. Paired with a decades-old law that mandates deaths by officer-involved shootings and in any other type of law enforcement custody are reported to the state, the laws set Texas apart from most other states in requiring such reporting by police.

Amanda Woog and Eva Ruth Moravec had each worked with one of the data sets independently but decided to join forces in 2016, when they co-founded the Texas Justice Initiative to build a portal for our criminal justice data. Through the portal and other tools, TJI makes the data available to the public in a user-friendly way. TJI also analyzes the data and explains our findings, and attempts to provide oversight by helping to ensure the data sets are complete and accurate.

  • Eva Ruth Moravec, M.A., Executive Director, Texas Justice Initiative

The C.A.R.E. (Community, Advocacy, Resilience, Evidence) Model for Disruptive Change Agents

Community and agency change does not happen without collective efforts on the part of citizens in that community. The MEASURE team has critical needs for people who believe in the power of data to drive change, and who want to reduce racial disparities in our community through tangible, concrete actions that will help amplify the voices of those traditionally unheard

  • Meme Styles, MPA, Founder & President, Measure Austin


The session was moderated by Jennifer Laurin, J.D., Wright C. Morrow Professor, University of Texas School of Law