Document Type


Publication Date

January 2016


This article addresses a matter of fundamental importance to the criminal justice system: the presence of erroneous information in government databases and the limited government accountability and legal remedies for the harm that it causes individuals. While a substantial literature exists on the liberty and privacy perils of large multi-source data assemblage, often termed "big data," this article addresses the risks associated with the collection, generation and use of "small data" (i.e., individual-level, discrete data points). Because small data provides the building blocks for all data-driven systems, enhancing its quality will have a significant positive effect on the criminal justice system as a whole. The article examines the many contexts in which criminal justice data errors arise and offers institutional and legislative solutions designed both to lessen their occurrence and afford relief to those suffering the significant harms they cause.