About the Project

All over Chicago, every day, in every corner of our oblong city, people commit crimes. This project is an index of the data that documents these crimes and what, if any, response there is from the criminal justice system.

The documentation is immense. Some is published. Much of it is not. Our goal is to create a flat, simple guide to what is known and what is not.

About the Data

For each contact point with the law, we divide the data that is known to be collected into three catagories based on its accessibility. Data marked "Open" is data that can be accessed online for free without prior permission. Data marked "FOIA" is data that can be requested under Illinois' Freedom of Information Act. We also have a category for data is confirmed to be inaccessible even through the FOIA.


1. Victimization

Open The U.S. Justice Dept. releases the results of its National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) openly online. Other national data exists, but is not as relevant to uncovering victimization rates.
Unavailable If crime goes unreported, there is no data to record.

2. Call for Service

Open The City of Chicago does not publish 911 Calls for Service on the data portal at this time.
FOIA Most call for service data is available via a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request; past requests have shown collected fields like district (where the event occurred), event type, remarks about what happened, etc.
Unavailable Most of the fields that are unavailable contain personally identifiable information such as the victim's name and address.

3. Incidents

Open A good portion of the incident report data is available to the public, including fields like date, hundred block of occurrence, whether or not an arrest was made, seriousness of the crime (IUCR), and about two weeks afterwards, (sometimes) the coordinates of the incident.
FOIA Most of the rest of the crime incident data can be obtained through a FOIA request, including age, race and other personally identifying information, relationships involved, whether or not an arrest was made, and info about the responding officer.
Unavailable Personal information such as names and badge numbers are omitted from the data in all cases.

4. Arrest

Open Unlike the closely related incident data, no data from an arrest or filing of charges is made available to the public.
FOIA Arrest data made available through the FOIA, includes the name and personal info of the arrestee, and might also include fields such as where inmates were booked, the time of their arrest, and by which officer they were booked.
Unavailable The home address of the arrestee as well as other personal data is not available.

5. Prosecute

Open No data is publicly available or available online about the prosecution, or the State's filing of charges against individuals.
FOIA There is also no information available about this stage of the system through a FOIA request. Others have attempted to request data from the State's Attorney's Office and have been unsuccessful. They are not obliged to respond to this basic level of accessibility.
Unavailable The State's Attorney's Office keeps their data, to whatever extent they collect it, totally unavailable. This might include things like notes from a proseuctor, reasons a case was not pursued by the State, and other data reflecting their perspective of inmate's court cases.

6. Jail

Open Much of the data on Cook County inmates is available readily via the Sheriff's County inmate locator, although getting bulk data requires going to a third party.
FOIA The Sheriff's Office keeps detailed records of inmates, including some booking information, security level of custody, biometrics like finger print, and several different numbers used to identify the inmate to local and federal agencies.
Unavailable Only a few fields are unavailable, such as private information like Social Security number, emergency contacts, as well as a number used to identify individuals across all bookings.

7. Court

Open No data is available online to the public. However, residents can appear in person and are able to access court records on site.
FOIA In general, the courts are exempted from the FOIA requirements. This may not apply to every related agency.
Requestable The court is unique in that you may be able to certain data, whether in bulk or not, by submitting a request to the Chief Judge of the Cook County Court. Others have been successful in their requests, and have made public their data.
Unavailable For the court system, the judge decides what data is or isn't available.

8. Prison

Open Basic inmate data is available through the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) website. Like the County Jail, there is no bulk data available except possibly through a third party (but we know of no one presently exposing bulk data).
FOIA The Chicago Justice Project's FOIA request to see what other fields the IDOC collects has not been responded to yet.
Unavailable The Chicago Justice Project's FOIA request to see what other fields the IDOC collects has not been responded to yet.

This project is part of the Smart Chicago Collaborative's Civic Works Project, a program funded by the Knight Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust to spur support civic innovation in Chicago.

Our partners for this project are Chicago Justice Project, a nonprofit research organization, and FreeGeek Chicago's Supreme Chi-Town Coding Crew (SC3). You can find the code backing this website on Github. We used the Chicago Tribune's Tarbell content management system to build our site. Content and code is under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence.