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Courts (Including Detention)

OGP Justice Policy Series


Existing OGP commitments on this topic tend to focus on transparency – including publishing data on ongoing cases, convictions and court decisions, and making hearings and other parts of judicial proceedings more publicly accessible. Recent analysis shows that these OGP commitments are less likely to lead to improvements in open government practices than others, highlighting the need for greater action. Many open justice commitments cover both civil and criminal justice, which can be interlinked.

Proposed Data:

We are considering using the following data sets to benchmark OGP performance in this area. We would love your opinion on which ones are your favorites, why, and what is missing:

  • World Prison Brief: pre-trial detention and prison population data
  • World Justice Project Rule of Law Index: fairness of criminal adjudication, justice system impartiality, due process
  • Urban Institute: 2018 survey of prosecutors, US only
  • Staton and Rios-Figueroa: 2014 survey of judicial independence in 200 countries over time
  • Measures for Justice: data on fair process, public safety, and fiscal responsibility in criminal justice in 3000 counties, US only

Possible Issues and Reforms to Highlight

  1. Pre-Trial Detention Systems
  2. Prosecutorial Transparency
    1. Slovakia (2017): Publish list of prosecutors and increase the transparency of disciplinary proceedings (OGP commitment)
    2. Colorado, US (2015): Community Law Enforcement Action Reporting (“CLEAR”) Act mandated reporting of criminal law data
  3. More Open Discovery Processes
    1. North Carolina, US (1996): Legislation granted death row inmates full access to police and prosecution files during the appeals process.
  4. Plea-Bargaining and Trial Waiver Systems
  5. Restorative Justice
    1. New York City, US: Use of youth judges and peer juries, among others, for young offenders for low-level offenses
    2. Los Angeles, US: Teen Court provides selected juvenile offenders with the opportunity to be questioned, judged, and sentenced by a jury of their peers.
    3. New Zealand (2014): Sentencing Amendment Act requires judges to adjourn proceedings to enable adult offenders and victims to be offered RJ.
    4. Finland (2006): Mediation Act seeks to achieve equal access to victim-offender mediation for all people (funded by the state).
  6. Open Judicial Data and Processes
    1. Buenos Aires: Open data repository / open hearings in Criminal Courts 10 & 13
    2. Uruguay (2018): Publish judicial statistics / hearing videos (OGP commitment)
    3. Slovakia (2017): Publish all court decisions (OGP commitment)
    4. Paraguay (2018): Create an open justice data portal (OGP commitment)
    5. Georgia (2016): Publish a database of all convictions (OGP commitment)
    6. Greece (2016): Create electronic judicial services (OGP commitment)
  7. Bias of Judicial Decision-makers:
    1. Slovakia (2015/2017): Improve process for judge evaluations, make disciplinary procedures against judges more efficient (OGP commitment)
    2. Kenya (2012): Software to randomly assign judges to cases (OGP commitment)
    3. Georgia (2012): Expand jury trials geographically and according to scope of application (OGP commitment)
    4. Liberia (2017): Bolster jury offices (OGP commitment)

Other relevant OGP Commitments:

  • Honduras (2018): Creation of an online citizen complaint mechanism
  • Slovakia (2017): Improve public scrutiny in election of judges and heads of court
  • Kenya (2012): Public vetting of judges
  • Afghanistan (2017): Creation of specialized courts regarding violence against women

Further Questions:

  • What are the knowledge gaps that require research? Are these the right focus areas?
  • Who else should we consult? (experts, activists, implementers, etc.)
  • Research suggests that certain issues disproportionately affect women. Any examples of reforms that explicitly make gender considerations?


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