Maurice Chammah says the unprecedented federal execution spree during the final weeks of the Trump presidency is evidence of the death penalty's continued decline, not its resurgence. The journalist is the author of the new book, Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty. Chammah tracks the use and symbolism of the death penalty alongside the long arc of U.S history and the evolution of the criminal justice system.
Homer Venters has been inspecting prisons, jails, and ICE detention centers for COVID-compliance almost since the start of the pandemic. The former chief medical officer for New York City jails says what were already substandard health systems and abusive environments have deteriorated sharply. Any fix to health care behind bars, he says, has to start with listening to the people these facilities have worked to silence: those with lived experience of the conditions.
Josie Duffy Rice says remaking the justice system is a generational struggle, but it's one progressives are winning. The well-known criminal justice commentator and activist, and president of the news site The Appeal, explains why she believes in the power of big ideas, and offers her take on the federal election, "defund the police," and the role of the media in promoting—or thwarting—change.
Why do some young people carry guns? It's a difficult question to answer. People in heavily-policed neighborhoods with high rates of violence aren't generally enthusiastic about answering questions about guns. On New Thinking, hear from three of the authors of a year-long study we led into young people and guns. The findings are disturbing, but if the goal is to learn from marginalized communities themselves what help they need, no less important is the way the research was conducted.
The movement to reform prisons is almost as old as prisons themselves. But what is the ultimate goal of reform of a system like the criminal justice system? On our New Thinking podcast, Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law explain why they think many of today's most popular reforms are extending, rather than countering, the justice system's harmful effects. Their new book is Prison By Any Other Name.
Restorative justice is about repairing harm. But for Black Americans, what is there to be restored to? This special episode of New Thinking features a roundtable with eight members of our Restorative Justice in Schools team. They spent three years embedded in five Brooklyn high schools—all five schools are overwhelmingly Black, and all five had some of the highest suspension rates in New York City.
The death of George Floyd after a white police officer pressed his knee to Floyd's neck for close to nine minutes has triggered a wave of anger and revulsion. Vincent Southerland, the executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU, compares the brazen nature of Floyd's death to a lynching. The furor comes in the midst of a pandemic itself exacerbated by racism. How will COVID-19, and the reaction to police violence, affect the deep racial patterns of the justice system?
With justice systems across the country scrambling to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of talk about what justice is going to look like when the virus ends. But what has the response actually consisted of, and is there any reason to anticipate a "new normal" will emerge? On New Thinking, New York University law professor Rachel Barkow explains her skepticism.
Jails and prisons have quickly emerged as epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. As New York City struggled to get people out from behind bars, it turned to a trio of nonprofits to repurpose a successful program on the fly. The urgency of supporting people released abruptly from jail in the midst of a pandemic is clear, but so are the challenges. The experience also raises the question: what happens to criminal justice when the virus ends?
The effects of the coronavirus are not being experienced equally. Whether it’s infection rates, deaths, or job losses, people of low-income and of color are being hit hardest. In New York City, many of those effects are concentrated in communities where public housing is located. Our Neighborhood Safety Initiatives works with public housing residents. On New Thinking, the program's Alicia Arrington explains the challenge, and the response.