The mission of The Institute of the Rule of Law is to promote the rule of law in Russia through research, media activities, and participation in public debate.
This project started as an internal tool for researchers at the Institute for the Rule of Law at the European University in St. Petersburg, Russia. Scholars studying judicial decision-making wanted to inform the public about judicial decisions, raise awareness about neighborhood crime, and set a new transparency standard for the courts.
With data, there is always a trade-off between detail and access. Researchers decided to work with aggregated data at the court level to balance specificity with social value. The following questions related to criminal justice guided their work:
Who is facing criminal trial?
Why are people convicted?
What are the verdict outcomes?
When are judges biased and misaligned?
The Institute collected and analyzed nearly all sentencing decisions in 2,213 regional and territory courts of the Russian Federation in 2009 and used CARTO to visualize the results of their research. This visualization marks the first time that law and society scholars have engaged with the general public to learn about the spatial context of sentencing on such an open scale.
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