Judges realize that each criminal defendant who appears for a sentencing is a unique individual, with his or her own peculiar background, experience, and motives. The overriding purposes of our sentencing decisions are to fairly punish the offender and protect the public.
For years, there has been no accurate way to study the data generated by sentencing decisions, even by judges. Yet statistics have always existed, and studies have sometimes made unscientific and unsubstantiated claims of disparity and unfairness in sentencing.
I was proud to volunteer my county to be a part of an effort to maintain confidence in the judiciary. Allen County is a medium-size county with all the types of criminal cases seen in smaller and larger counties. My court system is neither so big as to make the data collection experiment untenable, nor so small as to make the project too easy.
The data platform project is a marriage of two separate disciplines: the judiciary and technology. This is an opportunity to be a part of something important and innovative that will help promote public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary. In the end, my hope is that the data collected will make me and my colleagues better judges and restore any lost confidence in the integrity of what we do.