A RAND-AUC Consortium Tech & Public Policy Hackathon

Hacking Equity 2 – Justice Reinvestment

26Oct22 through 2Nov22

Background Context

“Defund the Police” became a rallying cry following a number of high-profile killings involving police officers and citizens. This phrase also further polarized the country as some took it at face value. The more neutral and accurate language concerns justice reinvestment – a wholistic approach to rethinking how society allocates resources relating to crime, punishment, and rehabilitation. There are a number of efforts at the federal, state, and local level focused on making the system more equitable and effective, but more work is needed.

The overarching question for this hackathon is this:

What is justice reinvestment – what does it entail, what efforts are ongoing, how do we talk about it, what data exists to inform the efforts, and what is missing?

There are multiple goals for this hackathon. The first is based in data and policy, with a review (either narrow or broad) of ongoing justice reinvestment efforts and the data that drives those policies. The second goal is identifying what is missing, either from a policy or data standpoint. And finally, the third goal is narrative – what is justice reinvestment and how is it framed and communicated both within the field and to non-experts.

For this event we have curated data and suggested questions related to traffic stops, but other data sources are available.


Timeline: Oct. 26 – Nov. 2, 2022 (8 days)

This will be closer to a traditional hackathon, with concerted effort over a relatively short period. Given the short timeline, broad prompt topic, and time zone differences, teams should move quickly to identify paths forward. Advisors will be available to answer questions (asynchronously), so early explorations should prove beneficial.

Teams will present their work Wednesday 2Nov22 at 2-4pm PT via Zoom.

Scoping: Review the pertinent background information and available data sets and resources. Identify directions for the team (review vs analysis vs narrative). The types of analysis you can undertake are constrained by the available time and data. The traffic stop data sets are fairly clean and ready for initial analyses. We have provided a number of example questions to explore the data.

Explore: Explore the problem using data and visualizations. What do your visualizations and analysis hide? What might be missing? Start playing with the data early and often. Instead of trying to come up with the perfect visual, quickly analyze and plot the data to get a feel for it. Then dig deeper and/or look at other sources.

Analyze: The exploration should point you in certain directions and pose new questions and identify other possible relationships. This is also an opportunity to think about misleading narratives (e.g. assuming causality rather than just correlation).

Narrative: This is an opportunity to look at the historic and more recent language and consider the strengths and weakness of the various approaches. The narrative prototyping can focus on non-expert audiences (i.e. “the public”) and/or practitioners in the field (broadly construed). Think in terms of “missing perspectives. These can be informed by your lived experiences as well as historical stories.

Propose next steps: Intervening effectively in complex policy systems while avoiding unintended consequences is hard! Think carefully about what bad outcome you are trying to prevent. Think also about what tools are available (regulation, investment, communication strategies, etc.). If an intervention seems obviously right, you are probably missing an important perspective or dimension.

Key Dates

October 6, 2-3:00pm PT – Narrative 101 – “problem solving and data: think like a filmmaker/artist/musician”

October 13, 2-3:30pm PT – Policy 101 – “from data to policy”

October 26 – 2-4:00pm PT – Kickoff, team meetings

October 27-31 – working sessions (timing flexible)

November 1, 2-4:00pm PT – Check-in and flexible working sessions

November 2, 2-4:00pm PT – Final Presentations – 10 min max per team

Data Sets and possible questions available here

Some of these are well parsed and should be straight-forward for analysis. Others are less structured. Teams should use whatever data is applicable/interesting for their particular question and topics.


Team 1 – Always Hacking, Never Slacking
Jarrius Jackson (MC), Stacy Williams (MB), Jasmine E (CAU), Zionna Brunson (CAU), Basil Ghali (MC), Elijah Davis (MC), Fernando Esteves (Pardee RAND)

Team 2 – Justice League
Alexis Hollins (MB), Bria Harris (CAU), Jabez Daily (MC), Caleb Dixon (MC), Aja Smith (CAU), Tyler Green (MC), Brian Mills (Pardee RAND), Zara Abdurahaman (Pardee RAND)

Team 3 – Fighting Magnolias
Carry Smith (CAU), Kennar Grant (MC), Dalton Flabors (MC), Arnetta Reid (CAU), Christian Lewis (MB), Torre Stokes (MC), Baqir Fateh (Pardee RAND)

Team 4 – The Elite Team
Aaliyah Rodriquez (MB), Myles Logan (CAU), Jamelia Williams (CAU), Lauren Waller (SC), Christian Moore (MC), Michael Henry (MC), Zohan Tariq (Pardee RAND)

Team 5 – The Data Pack
Daniel Fernandez (MC), Binta Sanyan (CAU), Pamela Russell (SC), Luther Haynes (CAU), LaDerrick Smith (MC), Carlos Villegas (Pardee RAND)

MB=Morris Brown College, MC=Morehouse College, CAU=Clark Atlanta University, SC=Spelman College



Evaluation Criteria

Framing questions: Did the team develop exploration questions that were
interesting and provided viable scope for the hackathon?

Analysis: Did the teams use appropriate data sets and methods? Were questions
answered and/or did teams pivot when necessary? Did the teams visualize data
and/or results effectively?

Presentation: Did the teams clearly articulate (explain and provide support for)
what they did, how they did it, and why they made their analytic choices?
Did they discuss the problem, questions pursued, results of their work, and
policy recommendations?

Spread The Word

Share your hackathon experience on social media and let your networks know you’re participating.


Follow @RANDCorporation and @PardeeRAND
Tag your posts on Instagram and Twitter with #HackingEquity
Discuss what you’re learning and what you’re building
Network with your team members and RAND mentors
Crowdsource ways around your obstacles and share your successes
Grab this image and share it 👇




If you have any questions, please reach out to Todd Richmond (richmond (at) rand.org).

Additional Information

For more information, see the Pardee RAND Hacking Equity page.