Tuesday, June 15, 2021 (Phoenix, AZ) - The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) has been recognized with two National Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties (NACo). These awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
MCAO received one award in the Civic Education and Public Information category for its Data Dashboard and another in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety category for its Home Detention Program, which was developed in partnership with the Maricopa County Justice Courts.
“These two programs are addressing important issues within the criminal justice system.,” said County Attorney Allister Adel. “The Home Detention Program acknowledges that serving jail time can cause extraordinary strain on families, such as parents with small children, those who are caregivers for loved ones, and those who would otherwise lose their jobs. We can ensure justice is served but avoid creating new issues or exacerbating the same stress points that could lead to recidivism. I appreciate the partnership with Maricopa County Justice Courts on this project.
Adel went on to say, “the data dashboard supports my vision for a more transparent process, and the importance of data-driven decision making. If we are to enact meaningful reforms in the criminal justice system, it is important that we understand what is submitted to this office and then filed as it relates to criminal charges in this community.”
Home Detention Program
Arizona is known for having strict DUI laws, however sentencing for a misdemeanor DUI lacked consistency within Maricopa County. If a defendant were arrested by local enforcement and went before a city judge in a municipal court, home detention would be included as a sentencing option. If the same arrest occurred by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the defendant would most likely be sentenced to time in a Maricopa County jail. Serving several days in jail for a misdemeanor DUI not only made a significant dent in the County’s overall budget, but also had a lasting impact on the individual’s employment opportunities and their family’s financial situation. In 2020, MCAO along with the Maricopa County Justice Courts helped make accountability more consistent by making home detention a viable option for misdemeanor DUI offenses. The program ensures that those who break the law are held accountable, but at minimal expense to taxpayers and with an eye toward protecting families and communities.
Case data is an important part of criminal justice system but is not readily accessible to the public. MCAO recognized that case data and statistics can be powerful tools to increase transparency, accountability, and cultivate understanding of this complex system. To this extent in 2020 MCAO developed and launched a robust and interactive online dashboard with three years’ worth of data on charging decisions, types of cases, law enforcement referrals and much more. The dashboard, created by MCAO analysts, statisticians, and information technology experts, is updated every seven days, and includes an online data dictionary to help users understand this information.
NACo President Gary Moore said, “Over the past year, county officials and frontline employees have demonstrated bold, inspirational leadership. This year’s Achievement Award winning programs illustrate the innovative ways counties build healthy, safe and vibrant communities across America.”
Started in 1970, NACo’s Annual Achievement Awards Program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.