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Learning How To Learn (Together) From Justice Errors

Criminal justice reform is having its moment in the public square. The gatekeepers—editors, publishers, producers, bloggers, and the “most-followed” social media posters—have decided to grant criminal justice issues some attention. These media moments always fade. How can reformers exploit the opportunity this one presents? Can something useful be left behind? Since 2011, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the Justice Department, has been exploring the feasibility of promoting “sentinel event reviews” modeled on those that helped […]

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Cost of Criminal Justice Higher for Young Black Men

Black men face greater obstacles and harsher penalties than other offenders as they move through the criminal justice system, from higher bond amounts to more severe prison sentences, according to a study published recently in the American Society of Criminology journal Criminology & Public Policy. The research examined the cases of 3,459 defendants indicted on felony charges in an urban U.S. jurisdiction and found that young black men face “cumulative disadvantages” throughout the criminal justice process. The authors found that […]

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The Pope's “European” Approach to Criminal Justice

When he addressed the United Nations during his visit to the U.S. last month, Pope Francis touched on many of the issues he has put high on his agenda elsewhere—especially in his visits to European nations. Speaking to the European Union parliament last year, for example, he discussed the challenges posed by the huge migrant flows from the Middle East, the struggle against poverty and inequality, and the crisis in human values. But in the U.S., he spent time on […]

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Remembering Jerome Miller: A Juvenile Justice Revolutionary

Yitzhak Bakal, Paul DeMuro, and Vincent Schiraldi also contributed to this article A generation of criminal justice reformers was inspired and energized by the extraordinary life and work of Dr. Jerome G. Miller. While we may be in an era of a nascent movement of positive reform, it is important that we recall his enormous contributions to challenging the entrenched unfairness and brutality of the justice system— well before it was publicly acceptable to do so. Miller passed away this […]

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Should the AG Look Outside BOP For Its New Director?

On July 23, 42 law professors wrote a letter to the Attorney General, raising concerns about various policies and practices of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and urging her to select BOP’s next Director from outside the agency in order to facilitate change. A few days later, three of the signatories to the July 23 letter published an op ed in the Washington Post making much the same argument, boldly predicting that with this one decision the Attorney General […]

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“Swift, Certain, Fair” Justice Movement Grows

A drive to improve probation practices in the United States by imposing quick and consistent–but often modest–penalties on offenders is growing, with at least 34 sites, including the entire states of Alaska and Washington, trying it out. Evaluations are showing promising results so far. The idea is best known as HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement) since it was launched a decade ago in Hawaii by Judge Steven Alm, a former prosecutor who was dismayed when probation officers repeatedly asked […]

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How to Eliminate Inequality in the Justice System

A new report by The Sentencing Project highlights four features of the nation's justice system that exacerbate the system's underlying racial inequality, and reform taken in jurisdictions around the country that have addressed these disparities. The report points to “race-neutral” policies that exacerbate racial inequality; racial bias in the use of discretion; practices that disadvantage low-income individuals, and policies, such as collateral consequences for those with criminal records, which exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities. “The criminal justice system's high volume of contact […]

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Is Science Taking Hold In Criminal Justice?

Scientific principles are increasingly being used in criminal justice practices, but it may take years for them to penetrate the entire field. The anecdotal evidence of science's expansion in criminal justice is mounting, an American Society of Criminology panel was told last week at its annual conference in San Francisco. The panel, organized by Criminal Justice Journalists, which collaborates with The Crime Report, heard from some of the country’s leading criminologists. Joan Petersilia of Stanford University Law School observed that […]

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Deep, Justice-Related Thoughts About Reality TV

This column originally appeared on the Vera Institute of Justice’s Current Thinking blog. I'm going to admit two things that may make me a pop culture pariah: 1. For a long time, Orange Is the New Black—the show and the book—made me angry. 2. I watch all of the Real Housewives franchises. These two things are, to my surprise, related. I'll start by explaining the anger I felt at Orange Is the New Black. When Orange Is the New Black […]

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Ten Ways to Reform America's Prisons

In every age and as long as there have been prisons, there have been prison reformers. And for centuries people have been asking: why prisons, do we need them? Who do we want imprisoned and for how long? What should the conditions of imprisonment be? In a lecture delivered to the Center for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame October 8, former NYC Correction Commissioner Martin F. Horn lays out his personal experiences and observations from a career […]