Community safety is multidimensional. Yet efforts to build community safety outside of the criminal legal system are often evaluated only using data generated by that same system. This means effective strategies of crime and violence prevention can be overlooked by policymakers and funders. We make an urgent case for a new paradigm.
In 2019, the Center for Court Innovation received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to assist five states in the development and implementation of statewide strategic plans for their Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC). The selected states were California, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Each state participated in a needs assessment process that included a document analysis and stakeholder interviews.
Efforts to reform the justice system—including our own—often tout they're "evidence-based" or "data-driven." But at a moment when a pandemic-era spike in crime seems to have put the reform movement on its heels, New Thinking asks: why do arguments based on data rarely seem to win the day? Christina Greer and John Pfaff—two scholars working at the intersection of data and politics—explain.
What's the most effective way to reduce the chance of an arrest in the future? A new study suggests it's shrinking the size of the justice system in the here and now. Boston D.A. Rachael Rollins and the director of NYU's Public Safety Lab, Anna Harvey, talk about the benefits of not prosecuting low-level charges—an almost 60 percent reduction in recidivism—and the challenges, even with data in hand, of bucking the conventional wisdom.
Research on the effectiveness and ethical mandate of prostitution diversion programs, human trafficking courts, and other specialized responses to the intersecting issues of prostitution and sex trafficking has produced mixed results. To better understand these initiatives, the Center for Court Innovation and RTI International conducted evaluability assessments of five such programs.
Homer Venters has been inspecting prisons, jails, and ICE detention centers for COVID-compliance almost since the start of the pandemic. The former chief medical officer for New York City jails says what were already substandard health systems and abusive environments have deteriorated sharply. Any fix to health care behind bars, he says, has to start with listening to the people these facilities have worked to silence: those with lived experience of the conditions.
The threat of incarceration has long been seen in some quarters as the best incentive to ensure people’s engagement in court-ordered treatment. But what if that assumption is wrong? This research brief argues the central element governing the effectiveness of treatment is the quality of the human interaction that accompanies it.
Rachel Barkow contends criminal justice policy is a “prisoner of politics,” driven by appeals to voters’ worst instincts and an aversion to evidence of what actually works. In her new book, the NYU law professor makes a provocative case for “freeing” criminal justice from the political imperative in order to achieve real reform.
Rachael Rollins says she has seen the criminal justice system from "almost every angle." Now, as Boston's first female African-American district attorney, she's setting the agenda. On New Thinking, she explains her approach of "services not sentences" as a response to low-level "crimes of poverty" and the urgency of changing the traditional role of the prosecutor.
How effective is therapy or treatment when it's used instead of incarceration, and what are the challenges to conducting it inside the coercive context of the criminal justice system? New Thinking host Matt Watkins is joined by clinical psychologist Jacob Ham who works with justice-involved young people affected by trauma, and John Jay College's Deborah Koetzle who evaluates programs aiming to help participants rebuild lives outside of the justice system.