Non-profit

Measures for Justice (MFJ)

Website:

measuresforjustice.org

Location:

Rochester, NY

Tax ID:

45-2119421

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $4,285,613
Expenses: $5,686,587
Assets: $8,405,504

Founded:

2011

Type:

Criminal justice data collection

President/CEO:

Amy Bach

Measures for Justice (MFJ) is a Rochester, New York-based nonprofit that collects, organizes, and publicizes criminal justice data from around the United States. Founded in 2011 by attorney and journalist Amy Bach, MFJ received funding from the Bureau for Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice for its first large-scale data collection expedition in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. MFJ also receives funding from numerous left-of-center philanthropies, including the MacArthur Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Pershing Square Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. [1]

Results

According to Measures for Justice, its work grew out of in-person research conducted by Amy Bach for her book examining the U.S. criminal justice system. MFJ’s pilot program began with a $50,000 grant from the U.S. government to collect criminal justice-related data in a single Wisconsin county, gradually expanding to cover the entire state. It has since grown to more than 1,200 counties in 20 states. [2]

According to Bach, MFJ is intended to be nonpartisan. In fact, its communications director Fiona Maazel stated, “We don’t infer something or give explanations…. our hope is that people do the due diligence required to get to the bottom of what the numbers are suggesting.” Nevertheless, the data presented sometimes display a racial and socioeconomic dimension. For example, one author pointed out that in Florida’s rural Wakulla County, data showed that non-white offenders with no prior violent criminal history who are convicted of nonviolent felonies received prison sentences at nearly four times the rate of white offenders. [3]

In another study conducted in Alabama, MFJ noted that those considered “indigent,” and less likely to be able to afford fines and court costs, were also 30 times more likely to be forced to pay those costs instead of having their cases “diverted” through non-judicial processes. [4]

One data set from its Wisconsin study showed that poorer defendants were often unable to afford even low bail costs, resulting in longer detention over weekends and holidays. As a result of MFJ’s intervention, Winnebago County, Wisconsin shifted its rules to allow judges to release some of these defendants without requiring a prosecutor to present a probable cause hearing. [5]

Data Portal and “Commons”

In 2017, Measures for Justice launched a data portal on its website that displays various criminal justice statistics across 20 states. MFJ also launched the pilot version of its community-accessible “Commons” project, which provides more detailed, local statistics by county. [6]

The pilot program, launched in Yolo County, California, was preceded by a study conducted by MFJ and the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, which suggested a deliberate lack of transparency in California’s data reporting procedures, as reported by Los Angeles Times. [7]

As part of her plan to increase data transparency in Marin County, California, local district attorney Lori Frugoli announced in April 2022 that she would be collaborating with MFJ and intended to request funding to launch a Commons portal for that county. Further Commons for Louisiana and New York are planned. [8]

Florida Legislation

In the fall of 2017, Florida state Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) invited Amy Bach to present the results of Measures for Justice’s years-long data collection in Florida. The information presented spurred Sprowls to successfully advance legislation in 2018 that would eventually require all 67 of Florida’s counties to collect and standardize data according to the parameters developed by MFJ. MFJ also supported similar legislation in California, which was enacted in 2019. [9] [10]

Leadership

Amy Bach, founder and CEO of Measures for Justice, is a former attorney and journalist for the New York Times, Slate, New York magazine, and The Nation. She is also the author of Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court. In 2011 she was awarded an Echoing Green global fellowship, and in 2018 she won the $100,000 Charles Bronfman Prize for her work with MFJ. [11]

References

  1. “Measures for Justice.” Philanthropy News Digest. June 7, 2017. Accessed May 2, 2022. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/features/on-the-web/measures-for-justice ^
  2. “Our Story.” MFJ. Accessed May 2, 2022.  https://www.measuresforjustice.org/about/story ^
  3. La Forme, Ren. “Database Offers Trove of Criminal Justice Stories with Rare Deep Look into Local Data.” Poynter. September 21, 2017. Accessed May 2, 2022.  https://www.poynter.org/tech-tools/2017/database-offers-trove-of-criminal-justice-stories-with-rare-deep-look-into-local-data-2/ ^
  4. Burkhalter, Eddie. “Report Shows Disparities in Alabama’s Criminal Justice System.” Alabama Political Reporter. December 8, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2022. https://www.alreporter.com/2020/12/08/report-shows-disparities-in-alabamas-criminal-justice-system/ ^
  5. Mackenzie, Victoria. “Measures for Justice: America How are We Doing?” The Crime Report. May 5, 2017. Accessed May 5, 2022. https://thecrimereport.org/2017/05/15/measures-for-justice-america-how-are-we-doing/ ^
  6. “Portal.” MFJ. Accessed May 2, 2022. https://www.measuresforjustice.org/portal ^
  7. “Police, Prosecutors and Courts are Keeping California’s Criminal Justice Data a Secret.” Los Angeles Times. September 23, 2019. Accessed May 5, 2022. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-09-20/criminal-justice-data-disclosure ^
  8. Halstead, Richard. “Marin County DA Seeks to Release More Data to the Public.” Marin Independent Journal. April 11, 2022.  Accessed May 2, 2022.  https://www.marinij.com/2022/04/11/marin-da-seeks-to-release-more-data-to-public/ ^
  9. Lapowsky, Issie. “Florida Could Start a Criminal Justice Data Revolution.” Wired. March 13, 2018. Accessed May 5, 2022. https://www.wired.com/story/florida-criminal-justice-data-sharing/ ^
  10. Dickey, Megan Rose. “California Bill Looks to Close Data Gaps in the Criminal Justice System.” Tech Crunch. September 16, 2019. Accessed May 2, 2022. https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/16/california-bill-looks-to-close-data-gaps-in-the-criminal-justice-system/ ^
  11. “Founder of Measures for Justice Awarded 2018 Bronfman Prize.” Philanthropy News Digest. September 6, 2018. Accessed May 2, 2022. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/founder-of-measures-for-justice-awarded-2018-bronfman-prize ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 2012

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990 $4,285,613 $5,686,587 $8,405,504 $388,458 N $4,246,282 $0 $2,523 $201,207 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $4,145,046 $5,432,761 $9,732,758 $314,738 N $4,130,350 $0 $1,401 $147,000 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $9,557,800 $3,527,239 $10,989,570 $283,835 N $9,549,138 $0 $1,302 $167,000 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $4,305,501 $2,561,047 $4,730,381 $55,207 N $4,302,109 $0 $896 $138,938 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $2,703,066 $1,407,779 $2,960,928 $30,208 N $2,701,845 $0 $535 $131,680 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,646,498 $561,511 $1,648,613 $13,180 N $1,645,434 $0 $142 $104,583 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $472,364 $210,237 $588,508 $38,062 N $472,200 $0 $164 $57,000 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $208,264 $60,197 $285,340 $88,011 N $208,190 $0 $74 $13,500 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990EZ $125,027 $75,765 $49,262 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Measures for Justice (MFJ)

    421 University Avenue
    Rochester, NY