Criminal Justice

The possibility of parole: A powerful incentive that makes us all safer

COMMENTARY | Researchers have found that offenders incarcerated under truth-in-sentencing laws racked up more disciplinary infractions and engaged in fewer rehabilitation programs. And after release, they were much more likely to reoffend.

Pretrial diversion programs are effective. And expensive for participants.

Courts often charge high fees for people to get into programs that allow them to avoid prison. Alabama's Jefferson County is trying a different approach.

With addiction bill passed, now Oregon faces biggest challenge

Counties have to build new treatment facilities to deflect people away from the criminal justice system but they only have a few months before possession is recriminalized.

‘Tough-on-crime’ policies are back in some places that had reimagined criminal justice

Several states are considering or have already enacted legislation undoing more progressive policies.

Report shows Ohio one of many states still prosecuting ‘HIV-related’ crimes

A new report shows more than 200 cases of "HIV-related prosecutions" in Ohio between 2014 and 2020.

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As xylazine surges, some lawmakers want jail time for dealers and people who use the drug

The animal sedative is cheap, easy to get and sometimes winds up in other illicit substances.

Governors roundly condemn Alabama ruling that effectively halts IVF

Republican leadership in the state is working on legislation that would narrow the impact of the ruling after several Alabama fertility clinics halted the procedures.

Releasing suspects pretrial doesn’t lead to higher crime rates, experts say

Some states and jurisdictions are taking different approaches to cash bail.

‘The world is watching.’ Alabama executes inmate using nitrogen gas

The state opted for the method following a botched execution of the same inmate in 2022. Two more states have since adopted the until now never tried method.

Shortage of prosecutors, judges leads to widespread court backlogs

The pandemic worsened problems that already had caused state and local court delays.

Recovery Court: This judicial diversion program converts sweat equity into freedom

COMMENTARY | Recovery Court in Grayson and Carroll counties in Virginia allows some defendants to add a fitness program to their judicial interventions. The program may help some defendants stay out of jail, and the judges behind the initiative hope it will contribute to long-term recovery.

Expungement backlogs swamp courts

Thousands of new expungement applications are causing months-long backlogs in jurisdictions with manual and paper-based processing. Automation can help.

How many inmates return to prison? Inconsistent reporting makes it hard to tell.

States define recidivism differently, which can result in misleading interpretations of the statistics.

Philadelphia reduced school-based arrests by 91% since 2013—researchers explain the effects of keeping kids out of the legal system

COMMENTARY | Launched in 2014, the city's diversion program looks to prevent youths from being referred to the criminal justice system. In the first five years, it decreased school-based arrests by 84%, and researchers say it saves taxpayers millions of dollars.

Michigan to automatically register people to vote when exiting prison

The law signed this week is the first in the nation and expands the state's Department of Corrections’ current effort to restore voting rights to returning citizens.

Lessons from one state’s effort to modernize its criminal justice system

New York’s sweeping 2020 law sought to accelerate pre-trial processes with technology upgrades. But the state’s experience offers lessons for other jurisdictions undertaking similar efforts to modernize the justice system.

High fees, long waits cast shadow over new criminal expungement laws

A clear record helps people seeking employment, housing and education.

Education linked to better employment prospects upon release from prison

People who get an education while serving time are less likely to return to prison and more likely to enter the job market, an analysis finds.

Cash bail policies are under fresh scrutiny

Some places have done away with the system, while others are considering stricter guidelines.

Communities look to end prison-to-homelessness pipeline

Incarceration and homelessness are inextricably linked, each cycling into the other. As the housing crisis drags on, state and local governments are looking to prevent former inmates from becoming homeless in the first place.