Established in 1949, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is the United States’ primary source for criminal justice statistics. BJS publishes many reports such as the seminal Crime in the United States as well as several data analysis tools. The Arrest Data Analysis Tool, for example, allows users to generate tables and graphs of national arrest data from 1980 onward. The results can be customized either by age and sex or by age group and race for more than 25 offenses.
Users can also view data on local arrests because the arrest data is compiled from the reporting of individual law enforcement agencies. The FBI has collected arrest counts for several decades now through its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program which forms the backbone of the underlying statistics. Over 18,000 city, university/college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily participate in the program covering about 80% of the U.S resident population. The output from this dynamic tool can be downloaded to Excel format.
This User’s Guide will help you get started.
This post was authored by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian at the UW Law Library
511 Wisconsin is a website with up-to-date information about Wisconsin traffic, travel, road conditions, etc.
According to the website, “We’re updating the 511 Wisconsin website with additional features that will help My 511WI users personalize travel planning needs. These enhancements mean that all My 511WI users will need to re-enroll when the new site goes live on Wednesday, July 12. When you visit www.511wi.gov that morning, you’ll notice a new look with a responsive, mobile-friendly design that’s engineered to maximize the ‘know before you go’ experience.”
The Free Law Project has recently announced that in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor and Georgia State University, they have collected every free written order and opinion that is currently available in PACER.
New opinions will be downloaded every night (!) to keep the collection up-to-date.
Currently, the collection contains about 3.4 million orders and opinions from cases dating back to 1960. All of the documents are available for search, and the Free Law Project has also partnered with the Internet Archive to upload a copy of every opinion as well (the Internet Archive is a non-profit whose mission is to permanently store digital content).
Read more about this exciting new initiative here.
Beginning in November, the US Supreme Court will require electronic filing of case documents. According to a SCOTUS press release, counsel will initially submit filings both in print and electronically. An exception will be made for pro se parties; Court personnel will scan and make their filings available electronically.
Once the system is in place, the new electronic filings will be made freely available from the Court’s website. The e-filings will not be part of PACER system, reports the National Law Journal.
The UW Law Library is pleased to announce our newest law librarian: Emma Babler. Emma will be our new Reference and Technology Librarian, where she will be tasked with assisting students, staff, and anyone who asks a question! Emma comes to us from the UNLV Law Library but received both her MLS and JD from the University of Wisconsin.
Welcome, Emma! We’re excited to be working with you!
Congress.Gov announced yesterday that with their new version of searching, users will now get slightly different results. The reason? The default operator is now AND and not OR. So, as Congress.Gov’s post points out, a search for National Park will yield results that include National AND Park instead of National OR Park. A nice improvement, if I do say so myself!
Read more about Congress.Gov’s change here.
Earlier this week, the nonprofit Measures for Justice launched an amazing new data portal “to assess and compare the criminal justice process from arrest to post-conviction on a county-by-county basis. The data set comprises measures that address three broad categories: Fiscal Responsibility, Fair Process, and Public Safety.”
According to The Marshall Project:
The project, which has as its motto “you can’t change what you can’t see,” centers on 32 “core measures”: yardsticks to determine how well local criminal justice systems are working. How often do people plead guilty without a lawyer? How often do prosecutors dismiss charges? How long do people have to wait for a court hearing? Users can also slice the answers to these questions in different ways, using “companion measures” such as race and political affiliation.
Just six states are included so far, but fortunately for us, Wisconsin is one of them. The others are Washington, Utah, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.
The site is really incredible. It allows you to zero in and compare data for measures including bail payments, diversion, dismissals, case resolution, type and length of sentence, and more. Data is then presented by county with the option to further limit and compare by race/ethnicity, sex, age, offense severity, and offense type.
For example, here’s a screen shot from the tool comparing non violent felonies sentenced to prison by Wisconsin county further filtered by race/ethnicity. Note that you can select specific counties to more deeply explore and compare data as shown below.
Kudos to Measures for Justice for creating this remarkable and easy-to-use tool.
Yesterday, the American Bar Association issued new guidance on protecting client confidentiality in electronic communications (Formal Opinion 477, Securing Communication of Protected Client Information). This guidance updates a 1999 ABA opinion.
According to the new opinion,
A lawyer generally may transmit information relating to the representation of a client over the Internet without violating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct where the lawyer has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access.
However, a lawyer may be required to take special security precautions to protect against the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of client information when required by an agreement with the client or by law, or when the nature of the information requires a higher degree of security.
Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites has an excellent run-down of the opinion and its importance to legal professionals.
Have you ever thought of applying for a grant to support your research or a special project but weren’t sure how to get started? How about publishing an article in a professional or scholarly journal?
The American Association of Law Librarians Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section Committee on Research & Scholarship has created a very useful guide to grant and publishing resources. It’s specifically targeted toward law librarians, but the sources that it recommends are useful much more broadly.
The grants section contains sources with tips on how to apply for grants and sources of grant funding. The publishing sections, covering both law reviews and library journals, offers lists of potential journals in which to seek publication and tips on getting your writing accepted for publication.
One type of publication that’s not listed in the guide but should be is state bar publications. In Wisconsin, both the Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack are excellent venues for publication for legal professionals – including law librarians. See the submission information and writing guidelines for the Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack for more information. Full disclosure: I’m on the State Bar of Wisconsin Communications Committee which serves as the editorial board for the Wisconsin Lawyer and have authored a number of articles for that publication myself.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has recently launched an archive of formal Attorney General opinions. The opinions, in PDF, are available from the first bound volume of opinions in 1912 to the present.
Note that the bound opinion volumes were published between 1912 and 1994. From 1900-1912, opinions were printed in the Biennial report of the Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin. Since 1994, individual opinions have been made available on the DOJ website.
Kudos to Amy Thornton, senior librarian, DOJ Division of Legal Services for making this collection available.