Jails and prisons have quickly emerged as epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. As New York City struggled to get people out from behind bars, it turned to a trio of nonprofits to repurpose a successful program on the fly. The urgency of supporting people released abruptly from jail in the midst of a pandemic is clear, but so are the challenges. The experience also raises the question: what happens to criminal justice when the virus ends?
The effects of the coronavirus are not being experienced equally. Whether it’s infection rates, deaths, or job losses, people of low-income and of color are being hit hardest. In New York City, many of those effects are concentrated in communities where public housing is located. Our Neighborhood Safety Initiatives works with public housing residents. On New Thinking, the program's Alicia Arrington explains the challenge, and the response.
The news is filled with stories about a rise in domestic violence spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes as courts reduce operations to abide by public health restrictions. Yet practitioners in courts across the U.S. are committed to responding to—and reducing the incidence of—domestic violence.
Family Court, which addresses complex issues involving some of the most vulnerable populations, is not exempt from the effects that COVID-19 are having on court operations across the country, forcing many to close courthouses, reduce or delay hearings, or conduct business remotely.
As we work urgently to adjust our programs in New York to meet the COVID-19 pandemic, our expert assistance team is also working with drug treatment court practitioners around the country. Our director of Treatment Court programs, Annie Schacher, discusses advice for practitioners to help them prepare and brainstorm alternatives to help participants maintain sobriety, even when courts and treatment programs are closed, and check-ins can no longer take place in-person.
In this episode of In Practice, Kathryn Ford, the Center for Court Innovation’s director of Child Witness Initiatives, discusses child homicide in the context of domestic violence with Dr. Peter Jaffe, a psychologist at Canada's Western University and an expert on children’s exposure to domestic violence. Among the topics they cover are the prevalence of child domestic homicide, the indicators of a high-level of risk to children, and the implications for justice-system practitioners.
In 1996, 16-year-old Reginald Dwayne Betts was sentenced to nine years in prison for a carjacking. He spent much of that time reading, and eventually writing. After prison, he went to Yale Law School and published a memoir and three books of poems. But he’s still wrestling with what “after prison” means. This is a conversation about incarceration and the weight of history, both political and personal. Betts's most recent collection of poems is Felon.
What if you brought together prosecutors and people they may have helped to incarcerate for a college seminar behind bars on the criminal justice system, and asked them to produce a list of policy recommendations? That's the premise of a novel experiment in prison education. On New Thinking, hear from Jarrell Daniels, a program graduate, and Lucy Lang, executive director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution, who conceived of the idea.
Domestic violence cases present challenges to probation departments. Supervising and monitoring offenders requires an understanding not only of the dynamics of domestic violence but the crime’s impact on the entire community. For this episode of In Practice, Rob Wolf speaks with James Henderson, a former probation officer and a consultant with the Battered Women's Justice Project, and Aeron Muckala, a corrections agent for the Minnesota Department of Corrections in Bemidji, Minnesota.
Community service has been a staple of sentencing in the United States for more than 50 years, yet we know surprisingly little about how it's actually being used. In Act One of this episode of New Thinking, an audio snapshot of community service at the Center for Court Innovation. In Act Two, Joanna Weiss of the Fines and Fees Justice Center offers a national perspective on community service, and the troubling findings of two new reports.