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San Francisco District Attorney Wants to Turn Prosecution From "Art" to Data "Science"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, June 4 2013

San Francisco's District Attorney George Gascón wants to use statistical analysis to be smart on crime.

If justice is blind, it won't stay that way in San Francisco for long. Right now, all city district attorney George Gascón knows about the defendants his office prosecutes is that each of his prosecutors handles, on average, 185 felony cases and 700 misdemeanor cases per year. He wants to know far more, and says his office is now building a database to profile defendants by attributes such as age, ethnicity, gender, education, work history, mental health and substance abuse issues. The system will also track "stabilizing forces" in their lives, such as whether they have housing. This information will help prosecutors decide how to handle their cases, he says. "We're trying to move this process away from being an art to being a science," Gascón said in an interview. Read More