Put a map on it

Or put a bird on it.

An interesting new website from the National Center for Juvenile Justice went up yesterday: Juvenile Justice “GPS”. Only one of the tools — jurisdictional boundaries — is currently online, but the other five are scheduled for release this summer and fall. They are juvenile defense, racial/ethnic fairness, juvenile justice services, status offense issues, and systems integration.

The idea: make it easy to compare policies across states. This kind of consolidation of data, like the ABA’s work on collateral consequences, is incredibly useful for anyone researching a system as atomized as the justice system. At the same time, a brighter light makes for darker shadows. One of the side effects of the JJGPS is unspoken indictment of datakeeping in the juvenile system. So little is available it’s a wonder that funding rolls over year after year.

Laurie Anderson said it bluntly. “What I really want to know is this: are things getting better, or are they getting worse?” I just shrug my shoulders.