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."
About two out of three people in local jails are being held awaiting trial, often because they can't afford bail. What if a mathematical formula could do a more objective job of identifying who could be safely released? That's the promise of risk assessments. But critics call them "justice by algorithm," and contend they're reproducing the bias inherent to the justice system, only this time under the guise of science.
Kim Foxx's unexpected 2016 victory in the race for State's Attorney for Cook County (Chicago) helped to ignite the movement to elect prosecutors promising something other than being "tough on crime." As part of our series on prosecutor power, Foxx explains the reforms she’s put in place, her struggles with being the face of a system that continues to fail so many of her constituents, and offers her take on the “incredible” gains made by the movement to elect a new kind of prosecutor.
Jill Harris says she's "shocked to find myself working for a D.A." A long-time advocate for criminal justice reform, Harris, now the head of the Brooklyn D.A.'s Justice 2020 reform initiative, offers her take on the role of the prosecutor in the third installment of our series on the debate over prosecutor power.
This webinar focuses on child support and its intersection with the work of Price of Justice grantees to address the overuse of justice fines and fees. Jacqueline Boggess, Executive Director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, provides an introduction to the child support system and discuss the impact of child support debt on justice-involved individuals. Price of Justice grantee sites then explore the implications for their projects through a discussion facilitated by the Center for Court Innovation.
The breadth and flexibility of technology provides the opportunity to generate new and innovative solutions in our legal system and better serve people who encounter it, regardless of their location, technological literacy, or language skills. These solutions can make court systems, programs, and services more efficient while at the same time increasing access to justice.
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.
As part of our podcast series on prosecutor power, Scott Hechinger of Brooklyn Defender Services offers a view from the other side of the adversarial process, discussing prosecutors' impact at key decision-points in his clients' cases and weighing the prospects for reform in a time of increasing scrutiny of prosecutorial discretion.