The “front end” of America’s criminal justice system–the period between arrest and trial—is rarely explored by journalists and the general public. But it is often the real test of the fairness and equal justice promised under our democracy. And many critics charge the system today in the U.S. is heavily weighted against the poor and minorities who, for lack of cash or good legal advice, can spent weeks or months in detention awaiting trial.
On May 13-15, 2012 twenty-two journalists participated in a special New Orleans workshop to hear specialists from around the country describe the current state of the system and learn about programs and projects aimed at improving transparency and equity–such as pre-trial release programs underway in many states and cities. The fellows were competitively selected on the strength of investigative reporting projects currently underway or in the planning stage related to the topics explored at the 2012 conference. Read the press release announcing selection of fellows here.
The unique program, “Jailed Without Conviction? PreTrial Detention: The Clash Between Due Process and Public Safety” was organized by the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime and Justice, with support from the Public Welfare Foundation, at Tulane University Law School.
The keynote speaker of the symposium Stephen Bright, President and Senior Counsel, Southern Center for Human Rights.
Speakers on panels ranging from reporting on pretrial detention to the impact and politics of the country’s bail procedures included: Cynthia Jones, Professor, Washington College of Law, American University; James Carr, Senior Judge, United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio; Laura Sullivan, Investigative Correspondent, National Public Radio;Dennis Bartlett, Executive Director, American Bail Coalition; Dennis Bartlett, executive director of the American Bail Coalition; and Jeffrey Altenburg, Assistant District Attorney, Milwaukee County.
There was a special panel on the recent implemented pretrial program in New Orleans. Speakers included, James Carter, Commissioner of Criminal Justice, City of New Orleans, Camille Buras, Chief Judge, Orleans Parish, Marlin N. Gusman, Sheriff, Orleans Parish.
Proceedings of the conference, including podcasts, research materials provided by speakers, are available through the links below. For a full list of speakers, panelists, and the agenda click here.
NOTE: this page will be updated regularly with articles by Fellows and other information as it becomes available.