With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, courts across the country shifted urgently to remote, rather than in-person, operations. It amounted to an unprecedented large-scale experiment. As courts prepare for a post-pandemic future, we looked in depth at both the harms of remote justice and at which practices might be worth continuing, with the overall goal of promoting fairness and equity.
Fines and fees levied by criminal legal systems place an undue burden on people unable to pay, often trapping them in cycles of debt—and even incarceration—that can last for years. In 2016, the federal government funded five states through the Price of Justice Initiative to tackle the issue of criminal legal debt. This report describes the work of those states and provides guidance for jurisdictions seeking to take on similar reforms.
The movement to reform prisons is almost as old as prisons themselves. But what is the ultimate goal of reform of a system like the criminal justice system? On our New Thinking podcast, Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law explain why they think many of today's most popular reforms are extending, rather than countering, the justice system's harmful effects. Their new book is Prison By Any Other Name.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, courthouses across the country have adjusted to doing at least some of their business remotely—with litigants in one place, judges and lawyers in another. This episode of In Practice explores the pros and cons of video conferencing at initial appearances in adult criminal court from the perspective of defense practitioners.
Drawing on a case study of more than 175,000 defendants in New York City, this report concludes concerns over risk assessments perpetuating racial disparities in pretrial decisions are real. However, at least in the New York City example, it finds a more targeted use of risk assessments could both significantly reduce pretrial detention and alleviate racial disparities. But realizing that potential requires jurisdictions to think "beyond the algorithm"—what do they want to use a risk assessment for?
The Center for Court Innovation piloted a small electronic monitoring program—using smartphones—for young people under justice supervision. This article offers insights into the best ways to approach technology projects in the justice system, but also concludes that electronic tracking of 16- to 18-year-olds in school raised multiple challenges and provided too little benefit to serve as a replacement for traditional supervision methods.
As the use of technology in the justice system becomes more common, it is important that those designing and implementing new systems adhere to principles that support human dignity with an eye on achieving objectives in the simplest and least intrusive way possible. These principles were developed by the Center for Court Innovation in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation and Blue Ridge Labs at the Robin Hood Foundation.
About two out of three people in local jails are being held awaiting trial, often because they can't afford bail. What if a mathematical formula could do a more objective job of identifying who could be safely released? That's the promise of risk assessments. But critics call them "justice by algorithm," and contend they're reproducing the bias inherent to the justice system, only this time under the guise of science.
This webinar focuses on child support and its intersection with the work of Price of Justice grantees to address the overuse of justice fines and fees. Jacqueline Boggess, executive director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, provides an introduction to the child support system and discuss the impact of child support debt on justice-involved individuals. Price of Justice grantee sites then explore the implications for their projects through a discussion facilitated by the Center for Court Innovation.
Hosted in partnership with the Price of Justice initiative, this webinar showcases the Center for Court Innovation’s Civil Alternatives project and a new e-learning module that was developed and launched in New York City as part of the 2017 Criminal Justice Reform Act. This law created the opportunity for individuals to resolve their low-level summonses by completing community service instead of paying a fine. This is done through the e-learning module; an hour of experiential learning.