Drawing on a case study of more than 175,000 defendants in New York City, this report concludes concerns over risk assessments perpetuating racial disparities in pretrial decisions are real. However, at least in the New York City example, it finds a more targeted use of risk assessments could both significantly reduce pretrial detention and alleviate racial disparities. But realizing that potential requires jurisdictions to think "beyond the algorithm"—what do they want to use a risk assessment for?
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. 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.
As part of a conference sponsored by the Center for Court Innovation and the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, we asked justice system leaders and experts "What has been the biggest change in the New York City criminal justice system over the last five years?"
As part of a series of criminal justice reforms, New York State is overhauling its rules governing discovery, or the sharing of evidence between the prosecution and defense, effective January 2020. Our analysis finds the accelerated discovery timeline may shrink case processing times, resulting in shorter jail stays for defendants held in pretrial detention. By facilitating the defendant’s ability to prepare a defense, the changes may also result in fewer prison or jail sentences.
New York State has 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 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.
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.
Through conversations with prosecutors, reformers, and public defenders, our New Thinking podcast has been examining the ideas, victories, and challenges of the movement to educate the public about the power of prosecutors and to elect "progressive" district attorneys promising to overhaul the justice systems they're inheriting.
As a defense attorney, Larry Krasner sued the Philadelphia police upwards of 75 times. Then, in late 2017, he was elected D.A. in a landslide. As part of our series on the power of prosecutors, Krasner explains why he has little patience for compromise in a city whose justice system is "an outlier in a country that is an outlier."