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."
In 2016, Adam Foss, a young prosecutor in Boston, gave a TED Talk on reforming his profession that became a sensation. Today he trains incoming prosecutors in D.A. offices across the country. In the latest episode of our series on prosecutors, Foss says the problem isn't that prosecutors have too much power; it's that no one is teaching them to use it for good.
An audio portrait of Make It Happen, our program working with young men of color in Crown Heights, Brooklyn affected by violence. Through interviews with participants and practitioners, the episode explores the intersections of trauma, involvement with the justice system, and the lived experience of race. This episode was originally released in April 2018.
Just because smaller communities generally have fewer resources doesn’t mean they aren’t innovating or taking new approaches that others can learn from and emulate. In Pulaski County, Virginia, home to about 35,000 people, Judge H. Lee Chitwood and Court Coordinator Jaime Clemmer have implemented a number of changes to better address domestic violence.
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.
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.
In this podcast, which was produced as part of Project SAFE, Afua Addo is joined by Farah Tanis, co-founder and executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint. Tanis discusses the creation of the Blueprint and highlights its work organizing with black women on issues that impact their daily lives. She points to the high rate of domestic violence and sexual assault and exploitation confronting black women and the importance of continued advocacy for criminalized and incarcerated black women.
Columbia University's Bruce Western, a leading expert on the connection between mass incarceration and poverty, discusses his new book, Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison, and outlines his vision for a justice system rebuilt to respond to the deep deprivation and trauma fueling much of the behaviour that leads to imprisonment.