Harnessing Data from North Carolina's Jails to Inform Effective Policies (2020-2021)

There are immense benefits to a regular and in-depth jail data collection process. Collecting jail data is critical to understanding a state’s correctional landscape, which can inform better carceral policies, drive research on jail populations and increase public awareness of criminal justice issues.

This project team set out to better understand the utility of standardized jail data collection at the state level and develop materials to assist decision-makers as they attempt to implement such collection efforts in North Carolina. Team members drafted a report describing what current jail data-collection efforts look like in each U.S. state. They found that forty-five states do not have a unified jail database. Those that do, including Texas, Colorado, California, New York and Georgia, consistently demonstrate an improved ability to tailor specific policies for their jails and to ensure their jails are properly following procedure and stay up-to-code. Additionally, criminal justice advocates and non-profits in these states are able to better address and advocate for the needs of jail populations.

Team members conducted an in-depth analysis of the data from California, Colorado and Texas and conducted interviews with a variety of stakeholders to answer a number of research questions related to the design, implementation and utilization of standardized jail data collection efforts.


Fall 2020 – Spring 2021

Team Outputs

Utility of a North Carolina Jail Database (policy report by Brandon Garrett, Ruth Wygle, Kalley Huang, Effie Mehbod, Albert Sun, Catherine Grodensky, Lucy Callard, Nicole Calhoun, Rhea Jain, Brianna Joyce, Ben Keschner, Spencer LaFata, Katherine LoBue, Birk McCaffrey. 2021. Durham, NC: Duke University Bass Connections Team, 2020-2021)

Report on the Utility of a North Carolina Jail Database

Jail Data Collection in NC and Beyond (2021 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Harnessing Data from North Carolina’s Jails to Inform Effective Policies (lightning talk by Brianna Joyce and Albert Sun)

California Jail Profile Survey Analysis

Colorado Public Jail Dataset Analysis

Texas Jail Data Analysis


Albert Sun

This Team in the News

Duke Selects Three Undergraduate Young Trustee Finalists

Bass Connections Team Explores Need for Better Jail Data in North Carolina

In-Depth Look at Wilson Center-Affiliated Bass Connections Projects

Duke Law Faculty, Students Tackling Diverse Interdisciplinary Research Projects through Bass Connections

Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2023


Image: Durham County Jail viewed from the railroad, by Ildar Sagdejev, licensed under CC BY 2.0


Team Leaders

  • Brandon Garrett, Duke Law
  • Catherine Grodensky, Sanford School of Public Policy–Ph.D. Student
  • Ruth Wygle, Arts and Sciences–Sociology–Ph.D. Student

/graduate Team Members

  • Nicole Calhoun, Nursing-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Lucy Callard, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Alex Chao, Computer Science (AB)
  • Kalley Huang, Robertson Scholarship - UNC
  • Brianna Joyce, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Benjamin Keschner, Political Science (AB)
  • Spencer LaFata, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Katherine LoBue, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Birk McCaffrey, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Effie Mehbod, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Albert Sun, Computer Science (BS)