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Center for Court Innovation;
New York City's promise to shutter its notorious Rikers Island jail complex hinges on reducing the number of people in city jails. This new report from the Independent Commission that called for Rikers' closure in 2017 and the Center for Court Innovation lays out a series of concrete, data-driven strategies to produce sizable jail reductions while prioritizing public safety.The annual cost of detaining someone on Rikers has soared to $447,000. As the report emphasizes, that is money that could be more productively used on a range of interventions to foster safer neighborhoods. Increasingly, research is finding stays in jail increase the likelihood of future criminal activity once someone is released, making us all less, not more, safe.The report recommends numerous policy changes, covering everything from improving case processing times—85 percent of the population on Rikers is presumed innocent and waiting, generally for months, for their day in court—to ensuring people's ability to pay bail is properly assessed, as is required by law. In combination, these changes can lastingly remake New York City's approach to incarceration.
Measures for Justice;
Despite accounting for a substantial portion of local, state, and federal budgets, our criminal justice institutions are among the least measured systems in our country. In an effort to bring transparency to this sector, MFJ has collected, standardized, and made public 20 states' worth of criminal justice data.The purpose of this report is to share what we have learned through this effort, including: (a) what we cannot see when data are missing, and (b) the value that data can provide when they are available and comparable. In particular, we identify patterns around the following:There is a substantial lack of data around pretrial detention and release decision-making, as well as individual demographics (particularly indigence).New data privacy laws are also making it needlessly difficult to obtain certain data. This poses challenges to understanding how individuals experience the system in cases that do not result in conviction.There is great variation in how counties dispose of and sentence nonviolent cases; how financial obligations are imposed on individuals; and the collateral consequences that individuals face when convicted.Across many of these findings, where demographics are available, we have an opportunity to identify and respond to significant disparities in group outcomes.This report challenges stakeholders and policymakers to dig deeper into these patterns and missing data. It also implores policymakers and legislators to improve criminal justice data infrastructure to ensure a more transparent, fair, and equitable implementation of justice.
Immigrant Legal Resource Center;
Harris County (Texas), home to approximately 1.2 million immigrants, is one of the largest and most diverse counties in the United States. Unfortunately, it also operates an expansive jail system and is an epicenter of immigration enforcement. This report looks at criminal case outcomes before Harris County courts and highlights disparities between U.S. citizens and non-citizens in arrests, charges, bail, case disposition, and sentencing. Through this report, we seek to raise awareness about how non-citizens are unjustly treated in Harris County, and we provide key policy recommendations for stakeholders to take immediate action to address such inequities.
This is an update to the June 16, 2020 report published by the ACLU-DC and ACLU Analytics, "Racial Disparities in Stops by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department". The original report analyzed five months of data collected pursuant to the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act on stops conducted by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) from July 22, 2019, to December 31, 2019.This update analyzes the stops conducted by MPD between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. The 2020 stops data show that MPD continues to disproportionately stop and search Black people in the District. The stark racial disparities present in the 2019 stop data have not changed. The 2020 data, like the 2019 data, support community members' repeated assertions that MPD's stop practices unfairly over police the Black community and require serious scrutiny and structural change.
The Center for Open Data Enterprise;
Oversight, accountability, and transparency are central to proposals for police reform - and those goals depend on releasing complete, accurate, and unbiased data about criminal justice. This Briefing Paper assesses the data we have and identifies the data we need to achieve real reform. Beyond police reform, CODE believes that historical and current data can be a critical tool to advance the cause of racial equity by mapping the status of different issues, providing use cases for data analysis, and identifying challenges to be addressed.
Project on Government Oversight (POGO);
The political stakes of judicial selection, especially at the Supreme Court level, have cast a shadow over the integrity of that process. The U.S. Constitution commits the responsibility of judicial selection to the President and Senate, which makes politics an inherent part of the process. But, under the present system, partisans have incentives to control the composition of the courts so as to try to affect the resolution of disputes in a way that furthers particular policy objectives and politics. This process distorts the actual and the perceived fairness and independence of the courts.In this report, we address the interrelated concerns of the selection of judicial nominees, the procedures for decision-making on the Supreme Court, the duration of service on the Court, and conduct while on the bench. Our reasons for recommending interactive reforms, and specific changes that we believe deserve consideration, are detailed below.
The history of slavery in America shapes the experience of incarceration for Black people and must therefore inform strategies to remediate institutional harms. This brief sets forth guiding values and recommendations for grounding prison research in principles of racial equity. These values are intended to help researchers more accurately capture and measure racial biases, and design and conduct research that can elevate and disrupt systemic biases. This brief is part of a larger research agenda for the Prison Research and Innovation Initiative—a five-year effort to leverage research and evidence to shine a much-needed light on prison conditions and pilot strategies to promote the well-being of people who live and work behind bars.
This brief report outlines why the Mayor and City Council must act immediately to cut DOC's inflated budget, for the safety of people in their custody, and for the good of our communities.
Each year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains over 100,000 immigrants, including people who have lived in the U.S. for decades, parents of U.S. citizens and individuals who come to the country seeking safety. ICE subjects people in detention to dangerous conditions and substandard medical care. Detention facilities are often located in rural, hard to reach areas, inaccessible to families and legal counsel. The unprecedented scale of immigration detention has been driven in large part by private prison companies that capture the lion's share of the over one billion dollars spent every year to lock up immigrants.This policy brief describes the harms and racial injustices that have resulted from U.S. laws requiring the detention of certain categories of individuals based on past involvement in the criminal legal systems, as well as recommendations for steps Congress can take to address these injustices.
Detention Watch Network;
This report examines the role of immigration detention in local economies and outlines a vision for a just transition away from economies dependent on detention centers. The report compiles research on prisons, economic development, and trend lines in adult and youth incarceration around the country, and draws on interviews with more than 20 community organizers, advocates, lawyers, and experts on immigration detention and adult and juvenile prison systems.
Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP);
The purpose of the redistricting process should be to create districts that accurately reflect the communities they represent and to distribute political power across those communities. But counting incarcerated individuals at the facility where they are incarcerated, rather than their home addresses, artificially bolsters the political power of certain communities on the backs of individuals who are not truly part of those communities, while simultaneously reducing the political voices of their home communities. In Texas, there are dramatic implications, with a handful of rural regions gaining a disproportionate share of the political power over other rural regions and diminishing the true population count in certain urban areas. This under-representation only exacerbates existing problems with Census undercounts and socio economic disparities which have a root in racial discrimination. It also deviates from how Texas law treats incarcerated populations in every other context, creating a conflict with the Texas constitution that needs to be addressed.Traditionally, the United States Census Bureau has counted incarcerated individuals at the facility where they are housed, but the Bureau has made clear that this historical practice has persisted only for administrative reasons, not for legal or policy ones. Recently, the Census Bureau has evolved in its treatment of incarcerated populations, and, for the first time, will make it practical for states on tight timelines to assign incarcerated individuals to their home communities. Many states across the nation are taking advantage of this opportunity to correct for the distortions created by prison gerrymandering. In order to more accurately reflect the state's population, Texas legislators should take advantage of the Census Bureau's new tools and work with state agencies to identify those prisoners who, rightfully, should be counted at an address in their permanent community.
All Voting is Local;
In Pennsylvania, county jail administrators are not fulfilling their legal responsibility to voters. Jails are required by law to provide registration and voting opportunities to all eligible voters. Currently, Pennsylvania county jails do not have a universal process for voter registration, voting by mail, or voter education. We refer to this as de facto disenfranchisement. The freedom to vote is central to building an America that works for us all, and no eligible voter should be denied this right. Through research, advocacy, and community outreach, we will both support jail administrators with tools to increase rates of voter registration and voting and, critically, hold them accountable to ensure all eligible voters can cast a ballot.