"Our work must be grounded in data and evidence, and the public should have access to that information.” —SA Foxx
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the second-largest prosecutor’s office in the country, prosecutes tens of thousands of criminal cases every year across more than 100 law enforcement jurisdictions in service of the five million residents of Cook County. Despite a clear vested interest, the public has not historically had access to meaningful information about the details and outcomes of this hugely consequential work.
When she took office in December 2016, State’s Attorney Foxx affirmed her commitment to changing that dynamic: Both the SAO’s work and public conversations about criminal justice can only be credible and effective when informed by data rather than anecdotes — and the SAO has an obligation to develop that data and facilitate understanding. Read a message from State's Attorney Foxx about her commitment here.
A core component of the SAO's commitment to data transparency under State's Attorney Foxx is the regular release of case-level datasets containing anonymized information about every felony case processed by the SAO (dating back to roughly 2010). Divided into four categories by stages of interaction with the SAO — Intake, Initiation, Sentencing, and Disposition — these datasets, containing tens of millions of data points and representing hundreds of thousands of distinct cases, provide an unobstructed view of the SAO's work on behalf of the taxpayers of Cook County.
In addition to the unmatched transparency of regular releases of detailed case-level data, the State's Attorney Foxx and the SAO Data Team seek to make that information accessible and understandable for the community as a whole, without needing advanced technical expertise. Annual Data Reports offer broad descriptions and summaries of the information contained in the casel-level datasets.
For community members who want to learn how to analyze and interpret the case-level datasets themselves — and even produce original research — the SAO has launched "Hacking 4 Justice," a series of free, inclusive, public training workshops led by the SAO Data Team and volunteer experts. The first workshop took place on September 22-23, 2018; sign up here to learn about future events.
Recent Data Updates — find a log of the latest updates from the SAO Data Team
The SAO Data Team
Pursuing an unprecedented data transparency agenda started with hiring the SAO's first-ever Chief Data Officer, Matthew Saniie, who joined the SAO in 2017. In addition to the case-level datasets and annual Data Reports, he is responsible for leading the SAO’s ongoing effort to increase prosecutorial transparency and innovate in the criminal justice system.
If you are interested in working with the SAO on quantitative research that depends on more, or different, data than the case-level datasets provide, please Submit a Data Request using this form. Other inquiries about data transparency at the SAO can be directed to SAOData@cookcountyil.gov.