In Criminal Justice, the “Simple” Solutions Are Usually Wrong

Innocent citizens who have experienced the violent impact of systemic failures in criminal justice deserve better than analyses that focus “blame” on individual players. As the medical and aviation fields have long known, “who” failed is less important than “why” things failed.

When Justice Fails, Here’s How to Begin the Healing

Saying “I’m sorry” is a useful start. But justice authorities could take a lesson from medicine by combining a genuine apology with a full disclosure of what went wrong. In today’s 24/7 media landscape that’s an essential step to rebuilding trust and confidence.

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?

Campaign 2016 and Criminal Justice

Next year's presidential contest is now well underway. With Hillary Clinton, the acknowledged frontrunner for the Democrats, officially in the race, and a slew of contenders vying (or likely to vie) for the Republican nomination, across a spectrum ranging from Jeb Bush to Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, it's a good time to begin asking where each of them stand on the criminal justice challenges facing the country. In our system, most of the gritty justice issues, from overcrowding in jails and prisons to police use of force and errant prosecutors, are dealt with on a state and local level—not by the feds. Nevertheless, leadership in the White House matters: it establishes priorities, frames the national agenda and sets a tone. And we clearly need leadership today.

How the ‘New Normal’ Convicts the Innocent

Too often, quality and safety are sacrificed to generate “production.” The justice system drifts inexorably up to, and then past, its safety margins— until its safety devices lose all meaning, and the system breaks down completely.

Something To See Here: Don’t Move Along

The world of criminal justice and the media that monitor it act as if whenever there is no one to hang, there is nothing to learn. We think “accountability” is the same thing as punishment.

Learning in Criminal Justice: Small Cases, Big Lessons

When criminal justice fails in a spectacular way—for example, in a wrongful conviction discovered after an innocent man has served 20 years—people find it easy to see the point of using the model employed by the National Transportation Safety Board: investigate the event and see if we can learn some lessons.