I recently read a post at another site that discussed some general ideas about criminal justice reform. I started to dive in, but the more I thought about it, the bigger the problem became. There are simply too many problems to name, too many places to start, and too many ways to get distracted by the loudest voices complaining about the smallest details.
It’s a good way to get nothing done in a hurry. But I know a way to get over that.
Many years ago, the teachings of an engineer and statistician name W. Edwards Deming led to an industrial philosophy (for lack of a better term) known as Total Quality Management. The system utilized many tools to drive process improvement and problem solving efforts. I’ve participated in the process many times over the years, and I’d like to use it over the course of several posts to crowdsource subtopics/problems under the general heading of “Criminal Justice Reform.”
First, I’m going to explain some data gathering and ranking tools that I think will be useful.
I. SILENT BRAINSTORMING
Problem solving teams use this process as a first step to determining the range of problems to be addressed. Teams are given a fixed time in which to build a personal list of problems and issues that they find important and worthy of attention. There is no minimum or maximum number expected, and it is anticipated that many problems will be duplicated by multiple people.
Once the fixed time has passed. Each team member offers up one item on their list to a facilitator who records it. Reaction of any kind is discouraged. The problem is the problem, it is neither good nor bad, and should not be assessed for value until the next step. No duplicates are allowed. If team member Sally has an item on her list that is first offered by team member Joe, then she would just cross the item from her list and move to the next one.
When every item is listed once, the process is complete.
II. 10-4 VOTING
The second step is for everyone to participate in a period of weighted voting. Each team member is allocated a pool of ten equal votes. After reviewing the list of items, they can vote for any item they like until they exhaust their pool of votes. The only restriction is that the most number of votes they can give to a single item is 4.
For example, consider a 10-4 vote to determine what movie you and your friends are going to see. You can distribute your votes for multiple choices, like so:
- Superhero Action Movie (3)
- Pixar Movie
- Oscar Bait Drama (4)
- Rom Com
- Independent Film (1)
- Cheesy Horror Flick (1)
- Highbrow Psychological Thriller (1)
- Zero Budget Artsy Fartsy
- Foreign Film
Here, someone made the Oscar Bait Drama their top choice, then the Superhero Action Movie, then split their last three votes across Independent, Horror and Thriller.
All the votes are tallied and the top choice is determined. The visual result is called a Pareto Chart.
III. PARETO CHART
A Pareto Chart graphically displays the result of the weighted voting, and is also a good graphical representation of the 80-20 rule.
- 80% of work is done by 20% of staff.
- 80% of resources go toward 20% of a project.
- 20% of the issues are important to 80% of voters.
In this example, the sum of everyone’s votes will almost uniformly push one or two films to the top of the heap. That choice will be the movie that the group agrees to see, provided no one gets all pissy and stomps off because they never bought into the process (which happens, and who cares because nobody really liked that guy, anyway!).
So, after all that horrible statistics lecturing, here’s what I want to try.
I’m going to post a list of topics below. I’d like to give the Horde a couple of days to add to it. Just plain, simple, vanilla subtopic names under Criminal Justice Reform. No judgment of others and no advocacy or criticism.
Just a list.
I’ll cull everyone’s suggestions down to a singular list, so don’t worry about coming up with duplicates. I’ll see if I can’t find a tool to allow 10-4 voting, or we can just do it in the comments if there are no better options. One topic will float to the top, I’ll write something inflammatory and mean-spirited, and we’ll all have a lot of fun.
Here are 10 random topics, first ones out of my fingers:
- Prison overcrowding
- Criminal recidivism
- Punishment vs. rehabilitation
- Minimum sentencing requirements
- Insufficient Judicial oversight
- Prosecutorial discretion
- Prosecutorial misconduct and immunity
- The appeal process takes too long
- The criminal code is too complex
- Creative alternative sentencing
Comments are yours – I’ll start pulling your topic on Wednesday or so.