The criminal legal system has a well-documented history of racial disparities and mistreatment of minoritized racial and ethnic groups. Treatment courts are a part of this same system and unfortunately, have not been exempt from racial and ethnic disparities in its programs. American University and the Center for Justice Innovation collaborated to assist treatment courts in several states in tackling racial and ethnic disparities.
Vincent Schiraldi used to run probation in New York City; now he’s questioning whether it should exist at all. Schiraldi says some of the roots of mass supervision—and its connection to mass incarceration—can be found in a surprising place: the Supreme Court’s 1963 Gideon decision. It recognized, but failed to adequately support, a poor person’s right to a lawyer. Hear the final episode in New Thinking’s “Gideon at 60” series.
New Thinking profiles the fight to secure lawyers for people facing eviction and the radical impact that is having in Housing Court. With its 1963 Gideon decision, the Supreme Court guaranteed a lawyer to any poor person facing prison time. For criminal cases, the decision was both sweeping and critically incomplete. On the civil side, the campaign for a right to counsel is taking a different approach—it's slow and piecemeal, but it's also working.
In a system rife with economic and racial disparities and swollen jail populations, could public defenders be the answer hiding in plain sight? Following a roundtable hosted by the Center for Justice Innovation on the sixtieth anniversary of the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision, this policy brief explores key areas where public defenders and jurisdictions are—despite their limited resources—working to make the promise of Gideon a reality.
Juan Carlos Areán speaks with Amirthini Keefe, executive director of the Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) in Minneapolis, and Sadie Cunningham, intervention and prevention program therapist at DAP, about centering racial justice in abusive partner intervention programs and organizations. The group discusses how survivors and people who cause harm are affected by oppression and how centering racial justice can create holistic interventions for people who cause harm.
In a new report, more than 100 young people in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, open up about why they carry guns. Their answer? Fear—for their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. Hear from the people who made the study happen—Javonte Alexander, Basaime Spate, and Elise White—our community researchers with personal ties to the social networks of the young people who shared their experiences.
Our study of more than 100 young gun-carriers in Brooklyn identifies fear—for themselves and their loved ones—as the overwhelming factor behind the decision to carry. Under constant threat from other gun-carriers, as well as from police, and deprived of economic opportunities, participants describe a world with vanishingly few options. This report is part of a first-of-its-kind project using street participatory research to explore the socio-cultural roots of gun-carrying in U.S. cities.
"On every anniversary of Gideon, liberals bemoan the state of indigent defense." On this 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision granting a lawyer to every poor defendant facing prison time, there is much to bemoan. Yet as the harms of the criminal legal system come into sharper relief, there is a larger question: even if Gideon's promise was fulfilled, how much would that change who principally suffers under the current system: the poor and people of color?
April Barber Scales was a pregnant 15-year-old when she received two life sentences; Anthony Willis was 16 when he was sent away for life. After more than 25 years behind bars, they each received something desperately rare: clemency. They describe how they fought against a prison system that "sets you up for failure." We also hear from an organization in Baltimore that works exclusively with young people at high risk of violence. Rather than arrests and incarceration, what do these young people need?
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws took shape amid the “tough-on-crime” push of the late 1970s, making a signal contribution at the origins of our mass incarceration era. How would eliminating these laws—in whole or in part—affect the stark racial disparities in who is in prison in New York?