What were the most significant criminal justice stories and trends in the U.S. during 2015? Which person had the most significant impact?
As the country heads into the 2016 presidential election campaign, criminal justice has carved out a prominent place in the national agenda for the first time in many election cycles. The news headlines have been dominated by the debate over American policing, and by terrorism at home and abroad. At the same time, lingering issues about prison overcrowding, court reform and capital punishment, to name a few, continue to absorb our attention.
But a few hopeful developments have underlined the widespread recognition that serious changes in the justice system are long overdue.
For The Crime Report's fifth annual Year-End Review, TCR staff, columnists and contributors have prepared a preliminary list of the stories or developments that, in our collective judgment, have had a critical impact on the criminal justice landscape this year—and will likely continue to resonate during 2016. We've also identified a handful of key players whose work or actions during 2015 were especially noteworthy.
As an exercise, it represents what we believe is a useful attempt to put a complicated and often troubling year into perspective—pretty much what we try to do for each day's news in TCR.
And since our readers represent some of the nation's most well-informed observers and practitioners in the criminal justice field, we are asking for your input as well. Below is a list of 15 choices we've identified, along with a short explanation of our reasons.
Please check up to ten of your choices for 2015's top stories. Feel free to add comments explaining the reasons for your pick, and we'll be happy to publish a selection of the best ones (anonymously if you prefer).
One note of caution: please concentrate on U.S. developments. While the terrorist attacks in Paris (and elsewhere overseas), for example, had a shattering global impact, our focus in this Year-End feature is on the U.S.
Similarly, please choose up to two newsmakers from the second list who you believe had a major impact on the U.S. criminal justice system in 2015, and/or will bear watching in 2016.
We wanted to keep the list manageable. Undoubtedly some the issues, newsmakers or developments that may be on your priority list are missing. So we've left space for a “write-in” ballot, where you can add a story or person you think we've overlooked. If enough readers join you, your choice might make the final list.
Please send in your replies by 5 pm Eastern Standard Time Friday, December 4. The final results will be published on TCR the week of December 7 (Newsmakers the following week).