Data Visualization Tells The Story of Policy and Criminal Justice

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The United States continues to trend toward States legalizing marijuana. With the change in public policy, the public and policy-makers are concerned about the social impact on the community. In Colorado, the Department of Public Safety (CDPS), Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) engaged with Eris Enterprise to study one dimension: the intersection of policy, criminal activity, and the transient community. Our job was to collect data from this understudied community and present the results grounded in scientific and statistical methodology with rich data visualizations to tell the data story.

The central goal of this research was to examine empirical evidence to support anecdotal accounts from criminal justice practitioners and experts regarding a potential relationship between legal (recreational and medical) marijuana, homelessness, and jail populations. For the study, Eris personnel surveyed inmates from across seven county jails: Arapahoe, Denver, El Paso, Larimer, Mesa, and Pueblo. The team interviewed a range of 5% to 10% of the daily population of the jail depending on the size of the community.

Data Visualization Tells the Story

Eris Enterprise built a data platform to electronically collect surveys without researchers having access to the Internet for security purposes. The team configured laptops for heightened security to prevent data breaches or unauthorized use of electronics within the jail. Eris Enterprises aggregated all data into a single database for analytics by our data scientists. We created an analytical data model optimized statistical modeling and data visualization stories.

The data collected also allows Eris Enterprise to analyze and provide insights to other public policy questions. The data told the story of the transient community’s journey through the criminal justice system. It highlighted the underserved mental health issues impacting the incarcerated community. As a result, the State of Colorado began an initiative to improve access to mental health services

For data analytics, the Eris Enterprise data scientists used IBM SPSS and R. They were able to produce rich statistical analysis to present the impact of variables such as residency, criminal history, mental health, and drug use within the sample.

For the final report, the team built data stories using Microsoft Power BI. The ability to build data visualizations to tell the story of the study allowed policy-makers of all abilities to consume the results of our work. The distillation of the data into infographics provided the client with ready-made visuals to share with the media.


The publication of the Eris Enterprise report was received by the State of Colorado and used as the basis for policy changes. A well-thought-out data strategy for the study made for strong statistical modeling and rich data visualizations. The database was delivered to the Division of Criminal Justice data scientists for further analysis into the multitude of variables we collected on their behalf.

Eris Enterprise is able to work with clients of all types. We have the expertise to build secure data systems for the most complex environments from criminal justice to corporations to boutique medical clinics. Our consultants are experts in data sciences including research, data modeling, analysis, and data visualizations. Eris Enterprise brings our decades of corporate data experience to every project every time.

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