#MeToo Collides With Kavanaugh And Justice Reform

Highlights Accountability for offenders committing acts of violence against women is necessary. But criminal responsibility is gender neutral. Legally, what you do for one, you do for all. Justice reformers want to dramatically lessen the impact of criminal justice processing by cutting prison and parole and probation populations by 50 percent. How do you demand […]

The post #MeToo Collides With Kavanaugh And Justice Reform appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

Highlights Accountability for offenders committing acts of violence against women is necessary. But criminal responsibility is gender neutral. Legally, what you do for one, you do for all. Justice reformers want to dramatically lessen the impact of criminal justice processing by cutting prison and parole and probation populations by 50 percent. How do you demand […]

The post #MeToo Collides With Kavanaugh And Justice Reform appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

Houston Chronicle: Cruz Goes Low in Attacks on CJ Reforms

In an editorial, the newspaper says Cruz is using “scaremongering and race-baiting” in his reelection campaign. It says, “He has targeted otherwise bipartisan rhetoric about criminal justice reform as the subject for convenient campaign season attacks.”

In a scathing editorial, the Houston Chronicle says Ted Cruz has sacrificed criminal justice reform in his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate. The newspaper said the Texas Republican has broken “an unspoken detente on scaremongering and race-baiting campaigns. Without the fear of cheap attacks, politicians and policymakers have been free to discuss the failings of our criminal justice system in stark, earnest terms. Historically low crime rates certainly contributed to that political truce. In his campaign for re-election, Cruz has shattered that truce. He has targeted otherwise bipartisan rhetoric about criminal justice reform as the subject for convenient campaign season attacks. It cheapens the debate and stifles the sort of progress that Texas Republicans once took pride in.”

Cruz has criticized his opponent, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, for referring to our system of mass incarceration as “the new Jim Crow,” the title of Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book. He also attacked O’Rourke for saying that Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who shot and killed a neighbor in his own apartment, should have been fired from her job. He has condemned O’Rourke for criticizing the war on drugs. The Chronicle said Cruz is exploiting justice reform “for political opportunism” under “the cynical cloak of partisanship.” The paper concluded, “When Texans get it right, as we have on some aspects of criminal justice reform, we deserve to see those ideas elevated and promoted at the highest levels of government, not sacrificed on the altar of election year strategy.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

DOJ Juvenile Justice Unit Faces Big Staff Cuts

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has only 60 employees, but one-fourth of its positions may not be filled after attrition. That would reduce efforts to insure state compliance with a federal law providing juvenile justice aid.

The Trump administration plan to cut thousands of Department of Justice (DOJ) positions may mean a 25 percent or more reduction in the already tiny 60-person federal agency focused on juvenile justice, reports the Chronicle of Social Change.

Marcy Mistrett of the Campaign for Youth Justice said the size of the proposed cuts and their potential impact on the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) were “alarming, given the amount of work and content expertise necessary to properly administer the duties of the OJJDP office. ”

She added: “It is also inconsistent with the direction of Congress, [which] has authorized higher levels for the program given its imminent reauthorization.”

The news comes as advocates work feverishly to pass the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), a 44-year-old law that trades federal grants for compliance with basic juvenile justice standards.

And it follows on the heels of other moves by the DOJ to de-emphasize the previous administration’s juvenile justice reform efforts. In October, the department issued employees of the OJJDP with “language guidance” rules suggesting that the word “improvement (or similar rewording)” replace all mentions of “reform.”

Employees were also directed to describe the Obama-era “Smart on Juvenile Justice” initiative, launched in 2014, as “system improvement work”—replacing original language that described the aim of the program as an effort to “identify and implement reforms to ensure federal laws are enforced fairly and efficiently.

The Justice Department aims to make the cuts over the next 18 months through attrition, relying on retirements and early retirement buyouts. If it comes to layoffs, the likely scenario will be a “last in-first out” policy.

The OJJDP oversees funds related to juvenile justice, mentoring and efforts to help missing and exploited children. At the heart of the agency is compliance with the JJDPA, which was passed in 1974 and lays out core standards for juvenile justice practices, such as not locking up youth for committing status offenses, crimes like truancy that would not be a crime for an adult.

One advocate said that staffing cuts would prompt the agency to “greatly loosen enforcement” of JJPDA compliance, especially the law’s requirement that states examine disproportionate minority involvement in the justice system.

In an early appraisal of the Trump administration approach to juvenile justice, Barry Krisberg, a criminologist at the University of California, Berkeley, warned that evidence-based strategies would get “less traction” –placing more of the burden to undertake reform on states.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Justice Reformers Launch Scorecard on Progress in a ‘Watershed’ Year

The Vera Institute of Justice plan s to tracks major trends and developments in criminal justice throughout the country, focusing on 12 key areas, ranging from gun ownership to sexual assault.

A national criminal justice advocacy and research group has launched a project that tracks major trends and developments in criminal justice throughout the country, focusing on 12 key areas of the justice system.

The State of Justice Report, released by the Vera Institute of Justice, also peers at the system through a number of different “lenses,” spotlighting bipartisan coalitions, racial justice, disability rights, and public health issues.

Vera, calling 2017 a “watershed year for criminal justice,” points to New Jersey’s lead on bail reform under a Republican governor, as well as other states that passed legislation limiting money bail and/or pretrial detention, such as Kentucky, Connecticut, New Mexico, and California. Locally, New Orleans passed a bail reform ordinance; and both Philadelphia and San Francisco issues reports on the impact of cash bail, signalling that leaders are taking a serious look at revising the system.

According to Vera, last year brought a growing recognition of the connection between domestic abuse and gun violence. While there has long been a preponderance of data linking intimate partner homicides and guns, “gaps in laws, policies, and practices in many jurisdictions continue to allow people subject to domestic violence protection orders or who have been charged with domestic violence crimes to possess firearms,” the authors write.

Last year, a bipartisan coalition of federal lawmakers introduced legislation to strengthen background checks on gun owners. And “eight states (Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington) adopted laws restricting gun ownership for people convicted of domestic violence or subject to a restraining order, bringing the total number of states with such laws to 27.”

Other bipartisan efforts that made progress last year were improvements to how sexual assault evidence is processed (SAFER Act of 2017), as well as state-level reforms in Louisiana and Massachusetts. Finally, says Vera, Democrats and Republicans around the country are pushing back against the Trump administration’s “tough on crime” agenda.

Vera Institute’s chapters on opioids, policing, bail, prosecutions, public defense, jails, youth justice, immigration justice, victims, sentencing and decriminalization, prisons, and reentry can be explored on their website.

This summary was prepared by TCR Deputy Editor Victoria Mckenzie. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Justice Reform Means ‘Thinking Outside Silos,’ Says New John Jay President

Many people trapped in the justice system today were victims themselves of trauma or addiction, says Karol Mason, who was appointed the fifth president of the country’s leading justice university this year. In an interview on the “Criminal Justice Matters” CUNY-TV program, she argued that innovative programs already underway demonstrate how social service providers, courts and police can successfully cooperate to reduce America’s justice-involved population.

Reform of the U.S. justice system requires “thinking outside the silos” that have separated courts, police and prisons from other institutions that can provide alternative pathways to help justice-involved people become productive, law-abiding citizens, says the new president of John Jay College.

Karol Mason, who left her post as a senior official in the Department of Justice (DOJ) to become head of the country’s preeminent educational institution for criminal justice in August, said educational training, family counseling, substance abuse treatment, job counseling, and other social services are critical tools for a “holistic” approach to criminal justice reform.

John Jay College

John Jay students and President Karol Mason. Photo courtesy John Jay College.

“Many of the people in our criminal justice system (now) were victims first,” she said in a Criminal Justice Matters  program aired on CUNY-TV, a public broadcasting channel for the metropolitan New York region, this week.

She noted that there was already a substantial body of research and evaluation showing the long-term value of programs focused at both the “front end” of the justice system and at helping those currently imprisoned to develop the skills for successful reintegration into society.

“Criminal justice is not something that operates in a silo,” she told program host Stephen Handelman, editor of The Crime Report. “The need for reform reflects back on other failures in other parts of the system.”

She gave as an example the current opiate crisis and the growing realization that criminalizing addicts is the wrong approach to a problem that has complicated roots.

“We shouldn’t be putting people in jail for addiction,” she said, adding that players in the criminal justice system in many jurisdictions around the country are already beginning to work with social service organizations in diversionary programs that focus on drug treatment, mental health, jobs, education and housing.

Karol Mason

Karol Mason, former head of the Office of Justice Programs, with (l-r) Valerie Jarrett, former White House Special Advisor, former President Barack Obama, and former Attorney-General Eric Holder. Photo courtesy Karol Mason.

“People are (already) thinking outside their silos,” said Mason, who was Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Justice Programs during the administration of President Barack Obama.

“They are recognizing that the justice system is the last resort, the last response to other failures.”

Mason said that the “Smart on Crime-Innovations” conference held last month at John Jay, which brought together academics, practitioners and advocates from across the ideological spectrum,  demonstrated that the movement for change was strengthening around the country—especially at state and local levels.

“There’s power when you have people come together from different walks of life and different perspectives who all agree we need criminal justice reform,” she said.

Editor’s Note: Video reports of John Jay’s “Smart on Crime-Innovations” conference are available on YouTube here.

Mason said John Jay College, which opened in the 1960s as a branch of the publicly funded City University of New York to offer a liberal arts education to police officers and now boasts a student body of nearly 15,000, would continue to serve as a national resource for research and innovation under her leadership.

Citing programs such as the pioneering Prison-to-College  Pipeline,  which brings students and college faculty into prisons to prepare inmates about to be released for higher education, she said John Jay would remain in the forefront of exploring alternatives to traditional approaches to crime and punishment—focusing especially on helping keep individuals from becoming involved with the justice system in the first place.

“We’re a safe space for people to have tough conversations about justice issues.”

The entire “Criminal Justice Matters” program can be viewed here.  Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Federal Sentencing Reform Alive, Senators Insist

Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) tell a conference sponsored by the conservative Charles Koch Institute that they are campaigning hard to pass an overhaul of federal sentencing laws. The Charles Koch Foundation released a four-volume report on “Reforming Criminal Justice” that is aimed at being accessible to policymakers and to the public.

The long-stalled effort to overhaul federal sentencing laws still stands a decent chance of passage in Congress despite opposition in the past by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, two Republican senators told a criminal justice conference on Thursday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) said that Sessions, a longtime former colleague in the Senate, “is willing to work with us on sentencing reform.” Sessions voted against a previous version of the bill on the ground that it would have gone too far in reducing mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes.

It is widely assumed that Sessions would play a major role in determining the Trump administration’s views on the bill. Grassley said there is “some support” for the measure in the administration, a possible reference to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been assigned by the president to work on criminal justice issues.

Grassley and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) were among speakers at a day-long conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the conservative Charles Koch Institute. The conference was titled, “Advancing Justice, An Agenda for Human Dignity & Public Safety.”

During the high-crime 1980s and 1990s, when Congress enacted many of the mandatory minimum sentence laws still on the books, Grassley said that as a new senator, he supported them.

Grassley still supports some mandatory minimums, but he now agrees with critics that some of the laws have resulted in “significant costs,” both to taxpayers who must pay to house inmates for long terms on minor offenses, as well as costs to “families and communities.”

Sessions was a leader in the successful 2010 effort to amend sentencing laws that imposed a much higher penalty for crack cocaine offenses than powder cocaine violations, Grassley said, demonstrating that the Attorney General does not oppose all changes in federal sentencing laws.

In a separate program at the conference, Sen. Lee said that the sentencing-reform bill would get at least 70 votes in the Senate if it were brought to the floor.

Lee called it a “lazy argument” that favoring sentencing-law changes means being “soft on crime.” He said, “We are tough on crime. We also have to be smart.”

“What we’re doing now [on sentencing] is not working,” said Lee, a former federal prosecutor. He challenged those who oppose reform proposals, “Let’s hear their ideas.”

Lee spoke along with former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) in a session subtitled, “Redefining Tough on Crime.”

DeMint said, “We have entirely too many people in prison,” observing that many inmates behind bars on minor drug offenses “come out hardened criminals.”

While Congress has failed to pass most criminal justice reform bill in recent years, states are a “bright spot” by tackling various justice issues, Lee said.

Before the conference, the Koch Foundation released a four-volume report titled, “Reforming Criminal Justice,” which editor Erik Luna, a law professor at Arizona State University, said is “meant to enlighten reform efforts in the United States with the research and analysis of leading academics.”

The volumes, which are available at this site, include 57 chapters covering dozens of topics within the areas of criminalization, policing, pretrial and trial processes, punishment, incarceration, and release. Luna said the report is written with the idea that it should be easily understandable by policymakers and lay readers.

Among other subjects addressed by conference speakers Thursday were policing, lessons for cities in tackling violent crime, a holistic approach to the opioid crisis, militarization of police, the future of marijuana policy, “restoring victims of crime,” and “reining in overcriminalization in America.”

At the violent crime session, former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, now a professor at New York University Law School, urged reformers to spend more effort on the “front end” of the criminal justice system, so all suspected offenders are not “funneled in” to a “one size fits all” legal process.

Milgram urged more attention to diverting crime suspects to mental illness and drug treatment rather than putting many of them on a path to prison.

Asked to discuss why Chicago’s crime problems are so much worse than those in other urban areas like New York City, Milgram said that shootings in the city are down as much as 20 percent this year, and that a disproportionate amount of Chicago’s homicide totals are concentrated in five neighborhoods.

In opening the conference, Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Foundation and Charles Koch Institute, called criminal justice reform “an issue whose time has come” and forecast that “there is progress on the horizon at the federal level.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Law Enforcement Participation in County-wide Justice Reform Leads to Reductions in Disproportionate Minority Confinement

Pennington County, South Dakota is 1 of 40 jurisdictions to receive funding through the Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) to plan and implement strategies to safely reduce jail populations. The Safety and Justice Challenge is a five-year, $100 million investment … Continue reading

Pennington County, South Dakota is 1 of 40 jurisdictions to receive funding through the Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) to plan and implement strategies to safely reduce jail populations. The Safety and Justice Challenge is a five-year, $100 million investment by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to help jurisdictions across the United States create more effective local justice systems. Pennington County is among eight sites to receive additional SJC funding this month to fully implement its justice system reform strategies.

Guest Blogger: Vaughn Vargas, Community Advisory Coordinator, Rapid City, South Dakota, Police Department

According to the 2010 Census, Native Americans make up 10 percent of the population of Rapid City, South Dakota, but, due to a large transient population, officials estimate the number to be closer to 23.5 percent. Regardless, arrest data from October 2013 to January 2015 show that Native Americans made up 59.1 percent of those arrested over that period, and the county jail has an inmate population that is approximately 51 percent Native American.

Through the Safety and Justice Challenge, Pennington County developed a strategy that includes initiatives that address the overrepresentation of Native Americans, including expedited case processing, community supervision, pretrial diversion, and tribal outreach. We’ve experienced some early success: over the last year, Pennington County reduced the jail population by 10.16 percent, enhanced an existing strong collaboration of justice system stakeholders, engaged the community in our reform efforts, and designed solid strategies for meeting the goal of a 20-24 percent reduction in the jail population over the next two years. We are excited to announce that we received additional funding from the MacArthur Foundation, which will allow us to implement the initiatives listed above to their full extent and to achieve our jail reduction goal. We plan to build on our early successes to ensure sustainable change within Pennington County.

In Pennington County, our law enforcement leaders have been strong drivers of our reform policies.  For example, Pennington County law enforcement adopted a “Cite and Release” policy for petty offenses, such as shoplifting, trespassing, public consumption, etc.  However, we found that in the case of Native Americans, we were making many custodial arrests because individuals did not have “acceptable” identification, so they had to be taken to jail to verify their identity by fingerprints. We addressed this problem by recognizing the tribal government identification cards as valid identification.

Other challenges causing overrepresentation and longer stays by Native Americans in the jail include societal factors such as poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and unemployment. To address these challenges, Pennington County’s tribal outreach includes five strategies:

  • Issuance of Tribal and State Identification on Reservations— Although law enforcement is trained to utilize all forms of identification (state and tribal ID) as noted above, there are still individuals who are arrested and brought into the jail because they have no form of identification. In order to reduce the number of custodial arrests occurring due to lack of any identification, we plan to implement a program where individuals can gain a tribal and/or state identification. We plan to implement a pilot program within one tribal community initially with a plan to expand to other communities.
  • Warrant Resolution—The court will establish programs to resolve cases and warrants on tribal land allowing misdemeanor warrants to be cleared without a custodial arrest;
  • Community Service on the Reservation—Defendants can carry out their community service on the reservation in lieu of jail time for appropriate crimes;
  • Jail Service on the Reservation—Defendants can complete jail sentence in a tribal jail, which will build better relations with the Tribes and allow for easier visitations for friends and family members on the reservation; and
  • Unilateral Extradition— Tribal and federal law currently do not mandate extradition of defendants, as between Pennington County and the three adjacent Tribes. Only by mutual agreement is any type of extradition possible. The Sheriff’s Office and the Police Department intend to pursue the practice of extradition from Pennington County to the Tribes as a first step in developing extradition agreements. We believe unilateral extradition from Pennington County to the requesting reservation is a first step to increasing cooperation and trust between tribal and Pennington County law enforcement.

Additionally, a large portion of our law enforcement and community health resources were being allocated for “familiar faces,” a group who turned out to be a small portion of our community and whose underlying problem was chronic alcoholism. To address these individuals, Pennington County introduced the “Safe Solutions” facility, which significantly expands our detox capacity and creates alternatives for nuisance-type crimes. With the new funding from the MacArthur Foundation, we will expand the Safe Solutions facility to include additional beds for males, and add beds for females.

What does this mean to our local law enforcement agencies?  Funding and technical assistance provided through the Safety and Justice Challenge will continue to allow Rapid City and Pennington County to tailor solutions specific to our community, identify incarceration drivers, and ensure we hold public safety paramount. Most importantly, it has allowed law enforcement to provide insight to key justice system stakeholders, have a significant voice in local criminal justice system reform, and will provide continued opportunities for sustained stakeholder collaboration for years to come.

from https://theiacpblog.org

Jurisdictions Selected to Receive Additional Funding through the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge Network

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today that eight jurisdictions would receive $11.3 million in additional funding through the Safety and Justice Challenge to fully implement jail-reduction strategies they have been planning for over two years.  The … Continue reading

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today that eight jurisdictions would receive $11.3 million in additional funding through the Safety and Justice Challenge to fully implement jail-reduction strategies they have been planning for over two years.  The MacArthur Foundation created the Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) initiative to support more just and effective local justice systems that improve public safety, save taxpayer money, and yield fairer outcomes for individuals and communities. MacArthur.png

The IACP is a Strategic Ally for the SJC initiative working on numerous fronts to encourage and support law enforcement leaders in implementing progressive reforms, promote enhanced collaboration with other justice stakeholders, and work proactively on pre-arrest diversion tactics to ensure the community has access to the behavioral health resources it needs to keep low-risk individuals out of the criminal justice system. IACP is one of 12 Strategic Allies engaged in the SJC and works with other partners in the SJC Network to provide support for the justice system stakeholders implementing these innovative initiatives in the 40 Challenge sites.

The eight cities and counties, all of which were among the original 20 sites chosen in 2015 to participate in the Challenge, are Ada County (ID), Cook County (IL), Los Angeles County (CA), Mecklenburg County (NC), Multnomah County (OR), Palm Beach County (FL), Pennington County (SD), and Shelby County (TN). With technical assistance and funding from the MacArthur Foundation, these jurisdictions are developing and modeling innovative and effective strategies to keep low-risk offenders out of jail, reintegrating those who must be confined back into the community upon release, and collaborating with system partners and the community to help them stay out of jail thereafter.

Strategies for achieving these goals include:

  • the use of automated court-date reminder systems to reduce “failure to appear” rates,
  • risk-based pretrial management systems so decisions for pretrial release or detention are based on standardized assessments of risk,
  • improved case processing systems or the addition of case processing specialists,
  • provision of legal identification cards and transportation to prearranged treatment and/or housing placements for individuals leaving custody, and
  • addressing racial and ethnic disparities through implicit bias education.

To address the challenges of addiction and mental illness, many of the jurisdictions are turning to pre-arrest diversion programs and opening facilities that provide law enforcement partners with placement options for these arrest alternatives. Other law enforcement strategies include the use of citation in lieu of arrest, and risk tools to make point-of-arrest decisions that can help to reduce racial and ethnic disparity.

The IACP looks forward to continuing to work with and support the 40 jurisdictions involved in the Safety and Justice Challenge in their on-going efforts to model reforms that create fairer, more effective local justice systems across the United States.

To learn more about IACP’s efforts, visit http://www.theiacp.org/safetyandjustice.  To see the press release from the MacArthur Foundation, go to http://www.safetyandjusticechallenge.org/2017/10/macarthurs-safety-justice-challenge-announces-additional-11-3-million-eight-jurisdictions-advance-local-criminal-justice-reforms/.

 

from https://theiacpblog.org

Vaunted Wyoming Prison Reform Bill Died, But Why?

A legislative proposal designed to curb Wyoming’s growing prison population seemed to have broad-based support. Yet it died without a vote. WyoFile tries to figure out why.

WyoFile looks behind the legislative veil in Wyoming in an analysis headlined, “Who Killed Criminal Justice Reform?” The story focuses on the political machinations involved in House Bill 94,  a complex piece of legislation designed to curb Wyoming’s rising prison population (and costs). In the end, HB 94, which once seemed to have broad-based support, was allowed to die without a vote in the desk drawer of the senate president.

The story of House Bill 94’s life and death is a story of the push and pull between different elements of the justice system. It’s a story of prosecuting attorneys and Department of Corrections officials whose goals conflict in stark ways, and of a member of the Board of Parole whose beliefs were so strong he worked against his own colleagues. It’s also the story of how Wyoming’s citizen legislature can struggle to pass complex legislation, particularly when it comes without influential “rabbis” — as legislators sometimes call a bill’s chief proponent — but instead powerful skeptics.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Governors Face Up to Criminal Justice Reform

The DOJ’s “Face to Face” program launched Monday will bring governors and other top state officials together with inmates and corrections officers. The program, organized by the Council of State Governments Justice Center is aimed at encouraging criminal justice policy makers to talk directly to those affected by their actions.

Critics say that criminal justice policy often is made without much regard for some of the people who will be affected by it.

Some politicians call for “tough on crime” sentences, for example, with no apparent recognition that those convicted of crimes will end up serving long terms behind bars with little real hope of rehabilitation.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG) has started a project to remedy that aspect of policymaking.

With the help of a U.S. Justice Department grant, CSG is arranging for governors and other top officials in states, where most criminal justice policy originates, to meet with inmates, correctional staff members and crime victims.

The “Face to Face” project starts Monday with events involving three governors. They will be joined between now and Aug. 23 by five other governors, a lieutenant governor and a state attorney general.

Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA), who has led an extensive criminal justice reform effort in his state, said in a statement issued by CSG, “I have learned through my own experience that criminal justice policy decisions are best made when they prioritize the needs and challenges of the people they ultimately impact.”

Then-President Barack Obama took part in a similar activity in July 2015, when he visited the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma, where he spoke to inmates. He apparently was the first chief executive to tour a federal prison.

Another participant in the CSG project, Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-CT), suggested that if more officials spoke directly with inmates, they would not take “a distant and hard line approach with respect to corrections and public safety policy.”

Malloy urged “a more thoughtful approach to criminal justice policy that focuses not only on data and numbers but also the people behind those numbers.”

The project is issuing a list of “potential action items” for officials to pursue after they meet with inmates and corrections officers. They include things like eliminating occupational licensing restrictions for those with criminal records and addressing the well being of corrections system employees.

The Association of State Correctional Administrators, the organization of state prison directors, is taking part in the project. Its director, Kevin Kempf, said, “The job of a corrections professional is immensely challenging, and often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Other organizations taking part include the National Reentry Resource Center, JustLeadershipUSA, and the National Center for Victims of Crime.

JustLeadershipUSA was founded by Glenn E. Martin, who served six years in a New York prison. He said, “Incarcerated people and those returning from prison or jail face statutory and practical obstacles that are often misunderstood. There’s no better way to inform our leaders of these issues than connecting face to face.”

The events scheduled so far by the project are these:

Monday

  • Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-CT) meets with advocates for victims of crime and ex-inmates.
  • Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) meets with former prisoners now in a “transitional house.”
  • Gov. Eric Greitens (R-MO) works with corrections officers in a prison.
  • Attorney General Mike DeWine (R-OH) visits a mental health facility in a maximum security prison.

Tuesday

  • Attorney General DeWine visits women in a pre-release program, and volunteers.
  • Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) meets with inmates in an employment-focused reentry program.
  • Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) meets with incarcerated women and prison staff.

Wednesday

  • Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) meets with incarcerated women.
  • Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R-WI) meets with inmates.

Friday

  • Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) has lunch with former inmates and their families.

August 23

  • Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) speaks about his interactions with parolees at the premiere of a film on the challenges of serving on community supervision.

For more information, see the project’s website .

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Matters and Washington bureau Chief of The Crime Report. Readers’ comments welcomed.

from https://thecrimereport.org