Karol Mason, the new president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, envisions expanding the school’s role so that it leads the national conversation on innovations in the courts, corrections and policing now that, she says, the U.S. Department of Justice has essentially bowed out, reports The Chief Leader in New York City.
Charging that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is moving the clock back on justice issues by decades—“I’d say to the fifties”—John Jay is well-positioned to step up, said Mason, who served as an Assistant Attorney General under President Obama.
“We no longer have the federal leadership we’ve had on these issues and I’d like for John Jay to fill that void,” she said. “We don’t need the federal government to lead us and guide us to do these reforms. We can do it ourselves.”
She cited the importance of research on criminal justice, which she oversaw at DOJ and for which John Jay is well-known, to determine what works, so that money and lives can be saved.
“You assess things to find out if they’re a good investment,” she said. As an example, she said Sessions’s order to seek maximum prison terms for drug violators flies in the face of studies that show it’s addiction treatment, not incarceration, that breaks the cycle of criminality.
She also mentioned Scared Straight, a program popular in the 1980s in which troubled young people were brought to prisons and chastised by drug offenders. “They finally assessed it and realized that at best it does no good but that it also does harm,” she said.
At DOJ, Mason oversaw six agencies supervising such areas as juvenile justice, state and local grants, sex-offender reporting, crime prevention, statistics, and assistance to crime victims.