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The Executive Session on the Future of Justice Policy

The Executive Session on the Future of Justice Policy brings together more than two dozen researchers, practitioners, policy makers, advocates, and community representatives to generate and cultivate new ideas around the work to reimagine justice.  The Executive Session was created with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, which seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

Executive Session Papers

While the Executive Session meetings themselves are off-the-record, Session members publish papers intended to catalyze thinking and policy reform solutions that can reduce incarceration and develop new responses to violence and other social problems that can emerge under conditions of poverty and racial inequality.

Can We Eliminate the Youth Prison? (And What Should We Replace It With)? | By Vincent Schiraldi (June 2020)

Since the turn of the 21st century, youth and adult crime rates in the United States have plummeted. While youth incarceration declined in turn, adult incarceration increased. This paper describes the scope and scale of youth decarceral efforts in the last twenty years and the increasing costs of youth incarceration in remote, large facilities. The author offers alternatives to youth institutionalization co-designed by communities, keeping kids close to home and within trusted social and familial networks. The success of the youth decarceral movement, while far from complete, offers lessons learned to adult system reformers.

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The “Radical” Notion of the Presumption of Innocence | By Arthur Rizer and Tracey Meares (May 2020)

The presumption of innocence has been a bulwark of the American justice system since the nation’s founding. Yet, the current scope and scale of pretrial detention prevents us from putting the principle into practice. Shockingly, the vast majority of individuals held in county jails are awaiting adjudication of the charges against them and, therefore, have not been found guilty of a crime meriting punishment. Recognizing this reality, the authors argue that the constitutionally-based presumption of innocence must be supported by a judicial presumption of liberty because the currently-operating justification for holding someone in jail prior to adjudication presumes that person has committed the offense for which they are charged.

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Racial Justice in Criminal Justice Practice | By Abbey Stamp (October 2019)

Criminal justice practitioners tend to see disparities in arrest and incarceration as the product of racial differences in crime. The racial disparity in criminal justice involvement can thus be dismissed as beyond the control of police, courts, and service providers. The experience of the Multnomah County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council suggests concrete strategies for overcoming racial disparities, and points to the pivotal role of Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils for building racially-just criminal justice policy.

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A Call for New Criminal Justice Values | By Arthur Rizer (January 2019)

For most of the early and middle 20th century, rehabilitation guided criminal justice policies, but in the 1970s and 1980s, notions of retribution, deterrence, and incapacitation emerged as replacements and signaled a dramatic shift. Now, as we enter an era of criminal justice reform, it is time for a new set of values. Parsimony in criminal punishment, which seeks the least coercive response, can undo the damage of overreaching incarceration and serves the more fundamental values of liberty and limited government, which embody a distinctively American commitment to human freedom.

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The Challenge of Criminal Justice Reform | By Bruce Western (January 2019)

Efforts to reverse mass incarceration need to address the social conditions of poverty, racial inequality, and violence in which punitive criminal justice policy has expanded. Efforts that aim only to reduce prison populations, or neglect the harsh socioeconomic conditions in poor communities of color, will fail to sustainably reduce the burdens of over-imprisonment. A new, socially-integrative, vision of community health and economic flourishing is the best way to respond to the problem of violence in contexts of poverty and racial injustice.

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Reconsidering the “Violent Offender” | By James Austin, Vincent Schiraldi, Bruce Western, and Anamika Dwivedi (May 2019)

The “violent offender” label has contributed greatly to the punitiveness of the U.S. criminal justice system. As correctional populations skyrocketed from the early 1970s to 2014, sentence length increased disproportionately for people convicted of violent crimes. The violent offender label poorly fits the empirical reality of violent crime, distorts notions of proportionality, fails to serve as an effective predictive tool for future violent behavior and is a serious, but often unjustified, obstacle to ending mass incarceration.

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Meet Our Executive Session Members

More than two-dozen individuals from a diverse range of professions and roles comprise our Executive Session. By bringing together diverse perspectives, the Executive Session tests and pushes its participants to challenge their own thinking and consider new options.


Join the conversation

Join our Founder and CEO @LizDozier at Milwaukee's 6th Data Day, as she discusses “Why Am I Always Being Researched?,” our guidebook for... researchers, funders, and community organizations. Hosted by @datayoucanuse. Register below:

The Sun-Times Editorial Board endorses Kim Foxx for Cook County state's attorney, "fully acknowledging the mistakes she has made in the ... Jussie Smollett case." Read the board's full endorsement here ⬇️

Really appreciate doing this with @catchatweetdown for @washingtonpost; it is timely reminder of what’s at stake in getting justice for ... #BreonnaTaylor | The origins of policing in America

We hope that this updated FOIA guide will aid activists as we change the world for the better ... ...

Great initiative by @Jack9Flaherty in support of @ActionSTL!!!

Are consent decrees requiring public agencies (eg the police) to obtain diversity training in conflict with the President’s executive ... order banning diversity training?
Can officers just refuse the training and report their department for requiring it?

Stop the Prison Spending Scam. Vote No on Prop 20!

In awe of the courage of these women... ❤️ What a powerful argument against mass incarceration, and in favor of strategies that prevent ... crime and help survivors heal.

#NoOnProp20 #StopThePrisonSpendingScam

🗳️ California! Did you get your mail-in ballot yet? Got questions for how to fill it out? Watch this video from our team! #VoteReady

Appreciative of all the hard work that continues to go into this project, both from our office and our partners @macfound, @safety_justice, ... @FIU, and @LoyolaChicago. Together, we are building better government.

Great story about a wonderful leader and great partner. We are lucky to have Rachel in Jacksonville and I am lucky to call her friend.

So very saddened to hear of Sgt. Twisdale’s passing. As his career and distinctions show, he honorably served his community and his loss ... will be felt.

The @TempePolice strategy is Maximum response- minimal delay. It’s tough to get out BEFORE live streaming with no responsibility to ... redact, but PIO’s do a remarkably rapid and right job!

@ChiefMoir @CommissionPOST Single most important book I’ve ever read. I used to have all cadets read it before starting academy and write... a book report on Day 1 of training about how it pertained to a life of service...

Thank you DaBaby for bringing us together. The Court and community must reimaginejustice together.

It’s time for the courts to reckon with the ways we maintain systems of oppression and white supremacy. It’s time to #reimagineJustice ... for our Charlotte community.

The most serious consequence of the rapid militarization of American police forces, however, is the subtle evolution in the mentality of the... "men in blue" from "peace officer" to soldier. @RSI

“If we try to talk about justice and the (youth) justice system without talking about race, then we’re missing the whole thing" ... @AECFNews @NateBalis @TheCrimeReport Tackling Racial Disparity Called Key to Youth Justice Reform -

This speaks volumes to Trump’s approach to crime.

It's been a turbulent year, but we remain firm in the commitment to a fairer justice system.

• 61% decrease in jail population since ... 2013.
• 4 jails already closed.
• New enhanced training for jail staff.
• Increased alternatives to incarceration.

Our partners at @StreetCornerRes are connecting young New Yorkers to resources and employment opportunities while keeping their communities ... safe!

"'I feel human again' — At three hotels, formerly incarcerated New Yorkers get the support they need" -- great to see the tremendous work ... @etcny get shown

Science Group Urges COVID-19 Incarceration Slowdown ... via @thecrimereport

To mitigate #COVID19, need to⬇️incarceration in prisons & jails & ⬆️ testing, quarantine, social support & reentry ... plans. Proud to be part of @theNASEM cmte on decarceration w @ewang422 @WesternBruce @hedwig_lee @SharonDolovich @MzDeHoskins @DOCSecretary

This week, @theNASEM released a report, co-chaired by @ewang422 & @WesternBruce, on decarceration in the time of #Covid_19. Give this ... important work a read.

Looking forward to the Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice’s meeting on restorative justice and redressing harm for victims ... with speakers @daniellesered and Mai Fernandez @JusticePolicy. Starts at 4:15 and live-streamed at

Tune-in tomorrow for @area4us' panel discussion on re-enfranchisement for formerly incarcerated people (#FIP). #fromchainstochange ... #votingrights #fipvote #geauxvote @Volzie @KeedaHaynes @FLRightsRestore

Deep thanks to Dwayne Betts for steering into the messy terrain of violence so that we can continue the work of seeing your way through it: ...

Check out my husband's amazing drawing on day 11 of #inktober2020

Today, Multnomah County @DAMikeSchmidt released a new statistical dashboard that analyzes protest-related cases referred to his office by ... law enforcement for prosecutorial review and potential issuing.

Please drive with caution on ice and snow-covered roads. @PennCoSheriff breast cancer themed vehicle was rear-ended Sunday morning on the ... Cheyenne River bridge. Ice was a factor. Deputy is sore but fine.

We are most grateful for Mary Clelland’s hand-sewn black masks for the entire correctional staff at Western South Dakota Juvenile Services... Center.

A great day for the country and the cause of justice!

Powerful interview with Walter Katz on the need for deep structural reform of policing and why moderate reforms have failed. ... ⁦@Arnold_Ventures⁩

This is my missing baby brother Sam Dubal w/ my baby boy, in happier times.

Science tells us there is a high probability that Sam is alive... on Mt. Rainier.

Pls ⁦@MountRainierNPS⁩ continue the active search until Sunday. WE BEG YOU to use the good weather to search.

Our brother Sam Dubal is still missing but given his skill & equipment, there is a strong chance he is alive.

As good weather ... approaches, our family implores the @mtrainier NPS to continue active search for a few more days. PLEASE HELP US. ⁦

Urgent report from @ewang422 @WesternBruce at @theNASEM.

Decarcerating Correctional Facilities during COVID-19: Advancing Health, Equity, ... & Safety

We need large-scale decarceration––releases & changes to arrest policies––to protect public safety.

Tune in tonight at 7 PM ET!

"While not being locked in a cage is an improvement, the alternative is a form of coded inequity and carceral control, & it's vital that... the people committed to social justice look beyond the shiny exterior of organizations that peddle such reforms" @ruha9

So excited to be speaking at finale of @MovementLawLab ‘s Build Power // Fight Power course right now with @deanspade @Alana_Greer ... @A_S_Alexander! Lawyers and law students come through and get your life!!

"We've got a situation here. The target is about to hit send on an article that is going to blow America's mind."

"Quick, cut his wifi! ... Cut his wifi! We can't let it see the light of day..."

What would it feel like if all of your optimism about the upcoming election rested on the hope that millions of Americans are just too ... embarrassed to admit they're going to vote for your candidate?

Folks: Today from 4:30 to 5:45 pm Eastern I’m talking about Reimagining Community Safety at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Via Zoom and open ... to the public - you can register here:

Someone said we are turning the corner? . . .

“Politicizing law enforcement is dangerous: If communities fear that their safety is contingent on their political beliefs, the trust ... required for public safety is irreparably harmed.” Read more from @DrPhilGoff in today’s @nytopinion.

Nancy Gertner: We Have Finished the War on Drugs; We Need a Marshall Pla... via @YouTube

The decision by NBC News to run a Trump town hall directly opposite ABC's Biden town hall is indefensible.

A judicial undoing project via @BostonGlobe

I'm delighted to be able to vote for a candidate who is all about neighborliness....

A "can't miss" - join me to soak in the wisdom of author @Nkechi_Taifa (not to mention @NOLAJola !) as @TheRabenGroup hosts their discussion... on #BlackPowerBlackLawyer. Past, present, & future of movement justice, through the eyes of one brilliant person! #JusticeIsTheNextNormal

Blessed are the voters, for they (we!) shall bring hope, healing, and justice for all. Thanks for the blessing, @AuburnSeminary Senior ... Fellows - we can all use it right about now!

🎧 @fedsoc: Courthouse Steps Oral Argument Teleforum: United States v. Collins ... with our @arthurrizer and Richard K. Sala of @VTLawSchool

Videoconferencing is a terrific use of technology to continue some communications, but public defenders must be cautious to ensure their ... clients maintain the right to private counsel. @JessDKelley #CJreform

Prosecutorial reform can be redefined with just one word: Prestige. Prestige for prosecutors is time. We need to redefine traditional ... prosecutorial culture. -@arthurrizer

@tolmanbrett @miriamkrinsky @somilbtrivedi @da_larrykrasner @rsi @nadcl @shonhopwood

Read what it means to one how many incarcerated man to be able to vote in this issue: Temperature Check, Vol. Nine: The Election Issue - PEN... America ⁦@PENamerica⁩

TOMORROW: Join #JusticeVotesNY @ccf_ny at the steps of the Bronx Supreme Court tomorrow at 11 AM! RSVP:

Kick off early voting in NYC with @ccf_ny! RSVP here >>

Happy anniversary Texas Book Festival: 25 years and still reading

TEXAS HISTORY: How Texans passed their days during the Republic

ICYMI: @vpreddy, Sr. Fellow for Criminal Justice Reform, shared how we can make America safer & more equitable when it comes to policing... in a recent @IQ2US debate. Watch the engaging discussion here: