MIMS Final Project 2021

Data for Defenders

The Data for Defenders team is partnering with Secure Justice, an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, with the goal of working with/for public defenders and assessing the most critical gaps in their knowledge of data and emerging technologies. Public defenders are overworked and under-resourced, and the sheer amount of data in modern criminal cases has compounded this problem.

With this project, we aim to call on technologists and those concerned with inequality in the criminal justice system to prioritize supporting public defenders' technical needs — by leaning on legislatures to increase funding for indigent defense, developing resources and training that can be shared between public defense offices, and by explicitly considering the needs of public defenders when advocating for privacy reforms. The deliverables we plan to produce will aim to assist and benefit the public defense community and spread awareness and education among technologists and privacy advocates in several ways.

First — we will develop a web page surfacing the systemic problems that impede public defense work. The systemic issues we’ve surfaced through qualitative research go beyond the scope of what we can achieve within the timeframe of our capstone. As such, we will highlight three areas of further work -- opportunities to develop additional legal resources for public defenders, advocacy work to prevent over-surveillance and enable more equal access to data, and finally, opportunities for technologists to build tools to assist public defenders. We will place a particular focus on surveillance data in public defense work, and more specifically surveillance technologies, their challenges, and their variability.

LTBR: Jyen, Sneha, Tiffany & Rachel as Defenders for the Public Good
LTBR: Jyen, Sneha, Tiffany & Rachel - Defending for the Public Defense Community

Last updated:

February 3, 2021