criminal justice reform

  • April 16, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Justice Antonin Scalia pays tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential people. The magazine includes Justice Ginsburg in its group of icons.

    Coral Davenport reports for The New York Times on the beginning of a multiyear legal battle over the president’s efforts to curb greenhouse gases.

    Elias Isquith argues at Salon that the recent sentencing of Atlanta public school teachers for standardized test cheating illustrates America’s problem of over-criminalization.  

    At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick explains how new abortion bans throughout the country are not even disguised as efforts to protect women’s health.

    In response to ongoing police reform efforts, Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic writes that the true problem in the United States is the mistaken belief that “all our social problems can be solved with force.”

    At NPR, Audie Cornish discusses the challenges of police body cameras and how police departments are deciding how to use them.

    The Department of Public Health and Social Services in Guam has refused to lift its ban on same-sex marriage despite an order from the Guam attorney general, reports Cameron Miculka in the Guam Pacific Daily News

  • March 30, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Judith E. Schaeffer argues at Slate that the Supreme Court need only look at Chief Justice John Roberts’ confirmation hearings in order to make its decision on same-sex marriage.

    In the Los Angeles Times, David Savage reports that the Supreme Court may hear a First Amendment case that questions “whether a school official’s fear of violence justified disciplining students for wearing American flags on their shirts.”

    At The Nation, Zoe Carpenter questions whether the reasons behind conservatives’ recent interest in criminal-justice reform should matter.

    Michael Li writes at the blog for the Brennan Center for Justice that the Supreme Court has rejected a “mechanical interpretation” of the Voting Rights Act and provided a victory for minority groups in Alabama.

    The Editorial Board of The New York Times criticizes the lack of transparency in political spending, particularly the lack of disclosure on which companies are spending the most on elections.

    At Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Ann C. McGinley takes a look at the Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. UPS.

  • March 27, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Nkechi Taifa, Senior Policy Analyst at Open Society Foundations

    I have spent over 25 years working on criminal justice reform issues and the recent Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, co-hosted by an unlikely alliance of Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Donna Brazile and Pat Nolan, was absolutely colossal. Who would have imagined that a huge hotel ballroom would be packed as early as 8:00 a.m. with federal and local legislators, high administration officials, policy experts, criminologists, researchers, faith leaders, academicians, formerly incarcerated people and millennials – all from both sides of the aisle? The event was an ambitious undertaking – a full day jam-packed with featured presentations, panel workshops, video presentations, and luncheon keynote conversations, with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal all sharing their words of wisdom on criminal justice reform. Democratic Members of Congress spoke at the Summit in person, and Republican Members, along with President Barak Obama, made remarks via video. 

    As I sat in the audience, I reflected that criminal justice was no longer the lightening rod it was two decades ago, thanks to a more recent, huge paradigm shift.  Twenty years ago, Republicans and Democrats alike were horrible on criminal justice issues.  Candidate Bill Clinton left the campaign trail to oversee the execution of a mentally challenged man in Arkansas. Every year or so during the early 90s we fought against unwieldy omnibus crime bills, culminating in the “granddaddy” of all the crime bills – the Violent Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1994.  This bill expanded the federal death penalty to a level unprecedented in modern times, gutted habeas corpus reform, eviscerated the exclusionary rule, allowed for the prosecutions of 13-year olds as adults, and refused to address the crack/powder sentencing disparity, while implementing a slew of additional mandatory minimum sentences and offering monetary incentives to states to lock up more and more people for longer periods of time in exchange for loads of money to build more prisons. 

  • March 12, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times argues that the United States must restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act.

    Lara Bazelon explains in Slate how innocence is often not enough to help the wrongfully convicted get out of prison.

    At The Washington Post, Lindsey Bever reports that Utah has passed a landmark LGBT rights bill.

    Aman Banerji discusses at Salon the troubling lessons on the state of racial discrimination in the United States found in the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report.

    Jonathan Brater writes for the blog for the Brennan Center for Justice about a new Oregon law that could change voter registration.

    Steven Mazie of The Economist argues that the Chief Justice could conceivably “vote in the liberal direction in both King v. Burwell, the Obamacare case, and Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case.”

  • March 5, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Robert Barnes reports for The Washington Post on the oral arguments for King v. Burwell and observes that the Court seemed to split along ideological lines in questioning during the case.

    Linda Greenhouse argues in The New York Times that the very nature of the Supreme Court will change if it chooses to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

    At NPR, Mara Liasson explains why both Republicans and Democrats should be concerned about the outcome of King v. Burwell.

    Mark Joseph Stern writes at Slate on the recent Justice Department report that finds Ferguson police have a history of bias towards African Americans and disregard for constitutional rights.

    At Democracy Now, Juan Gonz├ílez and Amy Goodman discuss how Ferguson illustrates the importance of undoing the criminal justice system of “racial control” with Michelle Alexander, author The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.