Rachael Rollins says she has seen the criminal justice system from "almost every angle." Now, as Boston's first female African-American district attorney, she's setting the agenda. On New Thinking, she explains her approach of "services not sentences" as a response to low-level "crimes of poverty" and the urgency of changing the traditional role of the prosecutor.
As the use of technology in the justice system becomes more common, it is important that those designing and implementing new systems adhere to principles that support human dignity with an eye on achieving objectives in the simplest and least intrusive way possible. These principles were developed by the Center for Court Innovation in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation and Blue Ridge Labs at the Robin Hood Foundation.
In April 2019, New York State passed sweeping criminal justice legislation, strictly curtailing the use of cash bail and pretrial detention, overhauling rules governing the sharing of evidence, and strengthening measures intended to ensure a defendant's right to a speedy trial. Our analysis of the potential implications of the reforms to bail finds they can be expected to significantly reduce the use of incarceration in the state. The measures go into effect in January 2020.
Like a number of cities across the U.S., New York City is in the midst of a remarkable, often contentious, debate about the future and purpose of its jails. New Thinking host Matt Watkins recently moderated a public discussion of the city’s pledge to replace its notorious Rikers Island jail complex with a series of smaller, modern facilities—located near courthouses, not on an isolated island. It's a shift the mayor says will end the era of mass incarceration in the city.
This year’s annual report captures the accomplishments of our more than 500 staff through numbers and stories. Taken together, they paint a picture of positive change: for government systems that have become more responsive to community concerns, for neighborhoods that are moving themselves toward safety and well-being, and for the thousands of people we work with who found healing and an opportunity to build lives outside of the justice system.
Prosecutor-led diversion programs offer the prospect of “off-ramping” suitable cases early in the court process. This study provides a detailed portrait of the goals, target populations, and policies of prosecutor-led diversion programs across the country.
Fines and fees are capturing millions of Americans in a cycle of poverty and justice-involvement. Various states across the country charge you for use of a public defender, your monthly parole meetings, even a jury trial. And that’s in addition to the fines attached to a conviction. Fall behind on your payments and you could end up in jail. New Thinking talks to a judge who’s come up with a new approach, and to Alexes Harris, a leading researcher on how fines and fees are used across the country.
How can the recent victories of the campaign to elect reform-minded district attorneys be wedded to larger systemic change to ensure the movement’s gains outlast the next election? On the final episode of our Prosecutor Power series, the ACLU's Somil Trivedi says progressive D.A.s have to take the next step of campaigning to reduce their own power.
Alexandra Natapoff calls the misdemeanor justice system a "quiet behemoth": making up four of every five criminal cases in the U.S., neglected by scholars and reformers, and potentially harming those caught up in it for life. In Punishment Without Crime, she describes a system warped by financial incentives that acts as a leading engine of racial and social inequality. She also says the reforms are obvious, and already happening in pockets across the country.
In this podcast, which was produced as part of Project SAFE, Afua Addo is joined by Dr. Monique Morris, the co-founder and president of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, and Andrea C. James, the founder and executive director of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.