Sex Offender Sentencing: Did the Supreme Court Base a Ruling on a Myth?

Last week at the Supreme Court, a lawyer made what seemed like an unremarkable point about registered sex offenders. “This court has recognized that they have a high rate of recidivism and are very likely to do this again,” said the lawyer, Robert C. Montgomery, who was defending a North Carolina statute that bars sex offenders from using Facebook, Twitter and other social media services. The Supreme Court has indeed said the risk that sex offenders will commit new crimes is “frightening … [Read more...]

Trump Budget Draft Targets Cops, Crime Victims

Recently, the Hill reported that the Trump team hopes to slash federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years. In a proposed federal budget prepared by the president elect’s transition team, the Department of Justice and related agencies comes in for almost $1.3 billion in cuts in the first fiscal year alone. This represents less than 1 percent of the department’s $29 billion annual budget, but the targets are telling. The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and Violence Against … [Read more...]

Understanding How Counties Implement Criminal Justice Policy Changes

The California Sentencing Institute (CASI) interactive map now shows annual criminal and juvenile justice statistics for 2009-2015. The map provides users with county-by-county visual comparisons illustrating law enforcement practices, incarceration rates, and trends over seven years. Given the shift in criminal justice policies stemming from Public Safety Realignment in 2011, juvenile justice realignment in 2007, and Proposition 47 in 2014, the CASI map provides a useful visual tool for … [Read more...]

Brown Picks Becerra for Attorney General

California’s wily governor just pulled a fast one with his announcement Thursday that he was appointing U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles to replace Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris when she moves to the U.S. Senate next month. No one saw this coming. Apparently, not even Becerra, who told a Sacramento Bee reporter that it was a “whirlwind.” The names of possible appointees had been circulating among political circles for months. Becerra’s wasn’t among them. The candidates were primarily men … [Read more...]

8 Ways Jeff Sessions Could Change Criminal Justice

Under Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican reported to be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Attorney General, the Justice Department — like much of the federal government — is poised to undergo a radical shift. The great majority of criminal prosecutions take place at the state level: About 211,000 people are locked up in federal prisons, compared with 1.3 million in state prisons, according to this useful chart from the Prison Policy Initiative. But Sessions would set the agenda … [Read more...]

Will Civil Rights Protections Survive the Trump Era?

Two of the nation’s most powerful civil rights organizations signaled Thursday that they hoped to persuade the incoming Administration to support existing bipartisan efforts for justice reform. But they also warned they would mount challenges—including legal challenges—if President-elect Donald Trump tried to implement the some of the more controversial “law and order” policy pledges he made during the campaign or otherwise turn back the clock on civil rights achievements to date. (On Friday, … [Read more...]

Post-Election Protesting? Know Your Rights to Demonstrate – #ACLUTimeMachine

Leading up to the election, last-minute get-out-the-vote pleas were everywhere: “Vote Tuesday. Protest Wednesday, Thursday, all weekend if you want.” In response to the news of Donald Trump’s election as president to the United States, people have already gathered, rallied, and protested – and continue to do so – everywhere from New York to Oakland. You have the right to speak out, today and every other day. But what exactly does that mean when you decide to demonstrate? What’s allowed and … [Read more...]

Detained Immigrants Aren’t Awaiting Deportation. They’re Awaiting Justice

Search online for the phrase “immigration detention” and you’ll notice lots of hits over the past few months – mostly because the federal government now holds a record number of immigrants in detention facilities.That number will soon surpass 45,000 – a mid-sized city of immigrants locked in prison-like conditions. This week, over two hundred organizations, including the ACLU, wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson expressing alarm over record immigration detention … [Read more...]

Did Justice Spending Wasted $3.4 Trillion?

Communities United, Make the Road New York, and Padres & Jóvenes Unidos have just released a new report, The $3.4 Trillion Mistake: The Cost of Mass Incarceration and Criminalization, and How Justice Reinvestment Can Build a Better Future for All, detailing how the U.S.’s misguided criminal justice policies wasted $3.4 trillion over the last three decades that could have instead been used to more effectively address the root causes of crime and meet critical community needs. The report … [Read more...]

California Legislature Criminal Justice Report Card Launches

Led by LA Progressive’s publishers, a team of two dozen Los Angeles-based criminal justice activists has just released a new Criminal Justice Report Card in time for November’s critical election. By looking at important criminal justice legislation enacted over the past several years, this first scorecard gives readers a snapshot of the performance of California’s legislators at a time when much good criminal justice reform is being done but when many terrific battles still lie ahead. Go … [Read more...]