Colorado emerges as the national leader in prosecutorial transparency

Aerial view of JeffCo courthouse

GOLDEN, Colo. (Mar. 8, 2023) – With data dashboards growing in popularity, District Attorneys across the nation are turning to Colorado for guidance. Recently, District Attorneys Alexis King (1st Judicial District) and John Kellner (18th Judicial District) were asked to present at the National Prosecutorial Data Transparency and The Use of Data Dashboards Summit, which took place March 1-2, 2023, at the University of Miami (UM). The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) hosted the summit in partnership with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

District Attorneys King and Kellner shared their knowledge and insights about launching the Colorado Prosecutorial Dashboard project to an audience of around 100 individuals, including district attorneys, data scientists, donors, and various other experts in the field. Attendees included special guests Dr. Alex Piquero, Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Karhlton Moore, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance. 

“With our bipartisan data transparency effort now launched statewide, we are on the precipice of addressing longstanding disparities and inequities through concrete and measurable data while advancing technology and raising the bar for prosecution and good government,” said First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King.

Since the initial data dashboards launched last September, five additional Judicial Districts have joined: the 3rd, 10th, 12th, 17th, and 21st. Collectively, these 13 Judicial Districts represent over half of the counties in Colorado (35) and 75% of the state’s population. A similar state-wide model is attempting to be replicated in Maryland.

“On a national level, Colorado prosecutors stand alone in their efforts toward data transparency and making data-informed decisions, and District Attorneys King and Kellner should be applauded for bringing other offices together for this combined vision and their willingness to share with prosecutors around the country,” said David LaBahn, President, and CEO of Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA). “Their leadership is welcomed as prosecutor offices seek guidance in an emerging effort nationwide.”

As prosecutors’ offices become more equipped to collect and utilize data, dashboards are not only a valuable transparency and accountability tool, but having data on the activities of a prosecutor’s office can facilitate better communication with community stakeholders and inform the discourse on important public policy issues. While District Attorneys in Colorado are already using the data to identify goals and implement changes, an aging case management system is a barrier to providing real-time and actionable data. As a result, Kellner and King are steering efforts toward modernizing and advancing technological and analytical capabilities.

“This groundbreaking project is about fairness and equal justice for victims and defendants,” said 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner. “It’s fundamental to our work as prosecutors and public servants that we pull back the curtain and truly examine the criminal justice system to identify disparities, and then take meaningful steps to address them.”

The remaining districts in Colorado will have a continuing opportunity to create data dashboards as the project transitions to the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council for ongoing management this fall.