Closer to home, we remain committed to an active research model. We have assigned researchers to each of our operating programs to provide us with regular feedback about what works and what doesn't so we can make adjustments as needed.
Rachel Barkow contends criminal justice policy is a “prisoner of politics,” driven by appeals to voters’ worst instincts and an aversion to evidence of what actually works. Defined by its severity and unfairness, she says the criminal justice system is counterproductive of the goal of public safety it claims as its justification. In her new book, the NYU law professor makes a provocative case for “freeing” criminal justice from the political imperative in order to achieve real reform.
In 2016, Adam Foss, a young prosecutor in Boston, gave a TED Talk on reforming his profession that became a sensation. Today he trains incoming prosecutors in D.A. offices across the country. In the latest episode of our series on prosecutors, Foss says the problem isn't that prosecutors have too much power; it's that no one is teaching them to use it for good.
We have long been committed to using data to tell us what works (and what doesn't) when it comes to our reform work. As our director, Greg Berman, explains in this profile of nonprofits' use of data from Crain's New York Business: "I reject the kind of pass-fail analysis where something is a massive success or total failure... If you dig into the data, there's always something you can learn."
Our director, Greg Berman, argues the fight to transform the American justice system will not be won "from the offices of our foundations, elected officials, or editorial boards." Along with macro reform ideas, look for micro changes in practice with far-reaching implications.