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Showing posts from March, 2006

Breakout Measure for Jail Overcrowding

The use of breakouts (disaggregation) of performance measures can reveal useful information that otherwise is hidden. Common breakouts of time to disposition measures, for example, are case type and location. They identify differences in timeliness of case processing across different case types and court locations. Other less common breakouts of on-time case processing measures may identify inequities among groups by income levels and indicate whether a court handles cases more swiftly for affluent litigants.

Another potentially very useful breakout that extends the meaning of on-time case processing measures is one that focuses on the median days that defendants spend in pretrial detention or custody. This breakout may be readily accessible via automated case management systems. It is a measure of jail overcrowding that is relevant to courts and one that may reap court managers considerable political capital in their criminal justice communities.

Many court managers in cities like Seat…

Collection of Monetary Penalties Gets National Attention

While court orders establish a variety of sanctions in criminal and civil cases, monetary penalties are clearly understood and measurable. In an article that appeared in hundreds of newspapers and magazines last Sunday, Associate Press (AP) reporters Martha Mendoza and Christopher Sullivan, put the national spotlight on one of the ten court performance measures of the CourTools: collection of monetary penalties – payments collected expressed as a percentage of total monetary penalties imposed by a court. Measure 7 of the CourTools assesses how well a court takes responsibility for the enforcement of its orders requiring payment of monetary penalties. A secondary yet important aim of this measure is evaluating the efficiency of the court's internal processes for collecting and distributing monetary penalties including civil damage awards, child support, traffic and criminal fines.

In its study, the AP examined federal financial penalty enforcement across the nation and found (altou…

The Outcome Measurement Imperative on a Global Scale

We measure what we care about, what we know. But that’s not enough.

The West has spent trillions of dollars to help poor countries, with little real success in reversing poverty and disease. William Easterly, a former World Bank Economist and now a professor at New York University thinks he knows why. For one thing, he argues that we’re measuring success the wrong way – by how much money rich countries spend on poor ones. That’s like judging a film based on its budget Easterly argues in his recently published book, The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (Penguin Press, 2006).

Instead, Easterly argues, we should measure results and give aid programs and workers timely feedback about what works and doesn’t work to improve lives. In other words, we need to measure outcomes, real improvements in the living conditions of the intended benefactors of the foreign aid. Governments have always been good at measuring one thing: spen…

Outsourcing Court Performance Measurement

Founded by former executives of McKinsey & Co. and IBM, Evalueserve is a company based in New Delhi, India, that provides business intelligence to companies around the world. It is just one of a growing number of suppliers of outsourced services. Plummeting telecommunications costs have spawned “remote services” whereby providers in such far flung places as India work for customers in the U.S.

Outsourcing -- a popular buzzword for what used to be called “contracting out” -- can be defined simply as the delegation of certain operations or functions from an internal to an external entity that specializes in that operation or function. For courts, outsourcing such functions as fine and fee collections may be a business decision to provide better service at lower costs.

In a previous posting, I recommended that the central function of court research divisions should be the design, building and maintenance of court performance measurement systems (CPMSs). I suggested then that courts …

Real-Time Performance Data

Knowledge is power. The faster we get the information the better. In more and more aspects of our lives, we expect information in real-time or near real-time.

Real-time performance data are transmitted to users immediately, as soon as the data are produced. Delay is limited to the actual time required to transmit the data to the users. In a communications system, propagation delay refers to the time lag between the departure of a signal from the source and the arrival of the signal at the destination. Think of the real-time data you get from the speedometer of your car as you drove to work this morning. How much propagation delay would you tolerate? I’d say, none. Zippo! We push on the brake or accelerator and we expect information feedback in real-time.

Now think of the way we typically produce and transmit court performance data. How much propagation delay are we willing to tolerate? It seems like plenty.

Consider the status quo of court performance information generation and distri…