On our New Thinking podcast, Patrick Sharkey, the author of Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence, discusses the social costs of violence and the communities benefiting most from its decline, and the threat posed by inequality and disinvestment to the current fragile gains. He also points to the signal role of community organizing and community-based nonprofits in combating violence and building safer, more resilient cities.
This report details the design, implementation, and impacts of Up & Out, a brief, non-custodial intervention to help misdemeanor defendants critically consider ways to avoid future justice-involvement. The program has been designed to provide jurisdictions with a meaningful, proportionate alternative to short-term incarceration.
Prosecutors across the country are increasingly developing innovative strategies to divert pretrial defendants to community-based programs. While risk assessment can be a powerful aid to identifying eligible participants, in practice, selecting and putting into place the proper tool can be challenging. Drawing on recent studies of risk assessments used in pretrial contexts, this document lays out key principles for ensuring their effective implementation.
This study seeks to validate the Criminal Court Assessment Tool on a sample of misdemeanor defendants participating in a deferred prosecution program in Cook County, Illinois. We developed the brief, publicly accessible risk-and-needs assessment for use in high-volume jurisdictions. In this study, it was found to have good overall predictive accuracy, with program participants identified as having significant needs related to substance use and employment, supporting the use of diversion to services in lieu of prosecution.
How do we reconcile the call in some quarters for more low-level enforcement with a desire to reduce the impact of the criminal justice system, particularly on communities of color? This Boston University Law Review article attempts to answer that question by articulating a new approach to misdemeanor justice that reconciles the maintenance of public safety with the urgent need to reduce unnecessary incarceration.
Who gets to decide which reforms to the criminal justice system receive the imprimatur of "evidence-based"? To combat what she sees as the monopoly over these decisions created by the high cost of the current evaluation model, Angela Hawken founded BetaGov, offering free and fast evaluations of public policy programs. What is more, as Hawken explains on our New Thinking podcast, the ideas tested generally come from practitioners, or even clients, inside the systems themselves.
If the justice system replaced jail and other traditional sanctions for misdemeanor defendants with services and treatment, what should those interventions look like? By identifying the drivers of repeat, low-level offending, this in-depth profile of misdemeanor defendants in New York City lays the groundwork for developing more effective and proportionate responses.
On our 'New Thinking' podcast, Nashville's top public defender Dawn Deaner explains why she thinks public defending has been "set up to fail" and how working to engage the community—both those who need public defenders and those who never will—is a lifeline for a profession in crisis.
This planning guide is intended to assist courts to better meet the needs of self-represented litigants in domestic violence cases. It describes specific practices that courts can adapt, proposes ideas for enhancing existing programs, and suggests strategies for working with community partners in order to more holistically meet the diverse needs of domestic violence litigants. The information in the guide is based on the recommendations of national experts, who helped identify core values and critical strategies relevant in domestic violence cases.