Jeremy Travis and Bruce Western, leaders of the so-called Square One Project, say their project consists of two primary segments—an executive session on the future of justice policy that will help generate “a new narrative of justice in America,” and a series of roundtables across the nation, with the first one scheduled this month in North Carolina. According to Travis, the status quo in criminal justice is “profoundly unacceptable.”
The Justice Department had announced a new direction for the justice reinvestment program that encourages states to cut prison populations. The proposal has been withdrawn after advocates of reinvestment sought support from key members of Congress.
More than 100 civil rights, “digital justice” and community groups issued a statement expressing concerns about the expanding use of risk assessment instruments as a substitute for basing bail releases on money. The groups said risk assessment tools may not only exacerbate racial bias but “allow further incarceration.”
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), chairman of the House committee that oversees Justice Department funding, has proposed increasing a program aimed at reducing state prison populations and recidivism that the Trump administration wanted to kill. The chairman also sought a small reduction in the FBI budget, plus increases for immigration judges and the Trump-supported Project Safe Neighborhoods program.
Michigan Sen, Gary Peters, a key sponsor of a bill to create a national commission studying the criminal justice system similar to the landmark LBJ-era effort, says he is “cautiously optimistic.” He told a Washington briefing that the more incidents occur involving failures by criminal justice officials, “the more people lose trust in the system.”
Progressive prosecutors and scientific pretrial release systems are reducing jail populations, say Jeremy Travis of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. New policies by newly elected Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, including decriminalizing marijuana possession, were cited as examples.
Grants to help crime victims and to support programs that assist them will get a 78 percent increase in the current fiscal year, estimates one expert. The measure was signed last Friday by President Trump.
The president has nominated four people to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, including three well-known conservatives. Families Against Mandatory Minimums opposed one of the nominees–Georgetown law Prof. William Otis, a former prosecutor—for his “outdated views.”