Legal system fines and fees can trap people of limited means in cycles of debt, and even incarceration, lasting for years. As we work to support efforts towards the long-term goal of decriminalizing poverty altogether, this brief gives an overview of an important near-term reform: ability-to-pay assessment tools.
One of every four people killed by police is experiencing a mental health emergency. Changing how we respond to crisis in the moment—and to widespread, ongoing mental health needs—means deferring to the leadership of people with lived experience and putting racial equity at the center of every reform. On our New Thinking podcast, listening to the people who know how to fix systems, because they’re surviving those systems' harms.
Whether it is a warm meal or a pair of shoes, we help people who are housing insecure and living with severe mental health issues address immediate needs and then work towards linking them to longer-term housing, services, and support. With programs like Community First, law enforcement no longer has to be the only response to mental health crises and homelessness.
What's the most effective way to reduce the chance of an arrest in the future? A new study suggests it's shrinking the size of the justice system in the here and now. Boston D.A. Rachael Rollins and the director of NYU's Public Safety Lab, Anna Harvey, talk about the benefits of not prosecuting low-level charges—an almost 60 percent reduction in recidivism—and the challenges, even with data in hand, of bucking the conventional wisdom.
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.
Amid a dramatic surge in gun violence across the country, some public officials are blaming the spike in New York City on the state's recent bail reforms. This research brief, bringing together publicly available data and research, finds no evidence to support the claim.
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.
Fines and fees levied by criminal legal systems place an undue burden on people unable to pay, often trapping them in cycles of debt—and even incarceration—that can last for years. In 2016, the federal government funded five states through the Price of Justice Initiative to tackle the issue of criminal legal debt. This report describes the work of those states and provides guidance for jurisdictions seeking to take on similar reforms.