The Justice Audit - Delivering an evidence base for policy making
The Justice Audit collects data on the whole criminal justice system viewed as an interconnected set of processes and provides a diagnosis based on the data. Data are gathered from a range of sources and triangulated - hard (administrative) data with citizen survey and practitioner and system user interview data. The data are organized in a quantitative baseline and then visualized to provide an accessible display of quantitative and qualitative data as an open source document.
The Justice Audit is not an event, or one-off assessment; and it is neither offered as a measuring stick, index or other ranking instrument, nor as a finger (to point blame). It is a tool to make data updateable, accessible and actionable. USIP supported a peer review of the methodology (2012). A Justice Audit of Malaysia was presented to the Malaysian government (2013) at: http://malaysia.justicemapping.org
And a Justice Audit of five districts in Bangladesh was presented to government (2014) at: http://bangladesh.justiceaudit.org
In fragile and conflict-affected states, the methodology is refined to undertake a fast Justice Snapshot of available data to show the gaps in - and obstacles to - getting a basic justice system up and running following the cessation of conflict. A Justice Snapshot of one state in South Sudan was drafted in under four weeks to illustrate to justice gatekeepers:
(a) the utility of a system-wide perspective and evidence-base to inform prioritisation and sequencing plans of actions;
(b) the need for coordination to ‘operationalise’ and maximize the impact of these plans; and
(c) the long term benefits of building consensus among the heads of institutions to cooperate in a national Justice Snapshot.
So what? The Justice Audit
- provides government, practitioners, civil society organisations and development partners with a justice baseline (down to the lowest administrative level)
- gets government investing in its own data
- shifts institutions/ministries/government departments to evidence based policy/budget/reform planning
- identifies blockages, gaps, shortfalls, stresses on the justice chain to inform policy/planning
- includes a ‘go-to’ library of materials on the justice sector (containing books, papers, research and reports)
- provides an updateable, open resource for users, practitioners, government, donors, academics, international NGOs, UN, etc.
- establishes an in-built monitoring and evaluation tool to measure progress
- avoids finger-pointing or ranking of institutions by focusing on the functioning of the justice system rather than the institutions it comprises.
The Governance and Justice Group developed the methodology together with the Justice Mapping Center (USA). The Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law (USA) partnered in the implementation of the JA in Bangladesh. The JA is headed by Justice (retired) Johann Kriegler (formerly a founding justice of the South African Constitutional Court). For further information about the JA, please download this introductory pamphlet.
For a history of how the JA was developed and how it has been used, please download Adam Stapleton's essay The Importance of Data and Information Technology in the Justice Sector by clicking here. It this essay Adam also explains how the JA can serve as an instrument for improving the way in which justice sector reform is managed and funded in a number of different contexts.