George Gascón highlighted the irreversible damage of mass incarceration at the 14th annual Harry Frank Guggenheim conference at John Jay College. He also noted the specific power and control District Attorney’s have to fix the problem, including restorative justice models like neighborhood courts.
In the first lawsuit of its kind, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) won a key ruling Tuesday allowing a federal lawsuit challenging the State of Connecticut’s discriminatory practice known as “prison gerrymandering” to proceed.
In the last two years, more than 20 states have expanded or added laws to help people move on from criminal records, mostly misdemeanors. Marijuana legalization and decriminalization have played a big role driving reforms.
A long-awaited repeal of the so-called “blindfold law,” which allows prosecutors to withhold key evidence from defense attorneys until just before trial, is still uncertain—even as advocates re-ignited a major campaign this week to bring the state into line with the rest of the nation.
Prosecutors are arguably the most powerful people in the criminal justice system. But lack of transparency about their activities means the public can’t assess their effectiveness, say two leading reformers.
Authorities should put “hard limits” on the degree to which people can be imprisoned for technical violations of parole, and use the cost saving to invest in housing, job opportunities and other services to help reduce recidivism, says former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.
The nation’s prosecutors today have an historic opportunity to eliminate the charging practices that have caused the imprisonment of disproportionate numbers of African Americans, says the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College.
Even though arrests have sharply declined over the last decade, to 10.5 million a year, it’s still a “staggeringly high” number—with detrimental impacts on the quality of life in many parts of the country, reports the Vera Institute of Justice.