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.
In Misdemeanorland, Issa Kohler-Hausmann argues the lower courts are no longer primarily concerned with whether people actually committed the offense they’ve been accused of. Instead, the focus is on future behavior: upholding social order through managing and assessing—often over long stretches—everyone with the misfortune of entering Misdemeanorland. It's an argument that forces us to rethink what justice should look like in low-level cases.
On the occasion of its twentieth anniversary, an introduction to the origins, programming, and community impact of Neighbors in Action, formerly known as the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. Neighbors in Action works to make the central Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant safer and healthier for all.
Legal Hand seeks to help people resolve civil justice issues before they need lawyers and court intervention. In our latest New Thinking episode, learn about how the program works, how civil justice issues impact different communities, and why it can be hard to get basic legal information to the people who need it.
Research has shown that checklists improve consistency and reduce the likelihood that critical steps are overlooked in technical fields such as aeronautics and medicine. The current study explores whether similar tools might promote the consistency and quality of legal representation among often overburdened and under-resourced public defense attorneys.
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.
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.
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 the prospects for reform in a time of increasing scrutiny of prosecutorial discretion.