Amy Bach, founder, executive director, and president of Measures for Justice — the first organization in the United States to measure the performance of the criminal justice system at the county level — has been named the 2018 recipient of the Charles Bronfman Prize.
Established in 2004 by Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman — along with their spouses, Andrew Hauptman and Claudine Blondin Bronfman — in honor of their father, Charles Bronfman, the prize, which, includes a $100,000 cash award, recognizes an individual under the age of 50 who has made a significant contribution to humanitarian work.
Following the publication of her book Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court, which demonstrated how prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys can become so accustomed to patterns of injustice that they no longer see them, Bach in 2011 founded Measures for Justice in Rochester, New York, with seed money and a fellowship from Echoing Green. With the funding, she and her team developed a set of measures and began collecting data designed to answer basic questions such as: Who's in jail, for how long, and for what crimes? Last May, after six years of work, they released six states' worth of data online that can be broken down by race/ethnicity, sex, indigent status, and age. The organization has plans to collect and release data for all fifty states
"Amy's work revealed a critical gap in our criminal justice system, and she developed an ingenious method for filling it," said Charles Bronfman. "She epitomizes the concern for social justice and entrepreneurial spirit that the prize recognizes. I am delighted the judges selected Amy."
"I am honored to be recognized by the Charles Bronfman Prize, which will go a long way toward bringing to light the importance of open data and criminal justice data collection at the county level," said Bach. "So many lives are impacted by the criminal justice system every day. We need make visible what is otherwise hidden. I am thrilled to see this work in the spotlight."