Criminal Justice

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.

Police resistance and politics undercut the authority of prosecutors trying to reform the justice system

After major American cities began electing prosecutors who campaigned on the promise of systemic reform, law enforcement unions labeled these DAs as soft on crime while lawmakers made legal and legislative efforts to remove them from office.

The parent-child bond is critical–even when prison walls separate them

In New Hampshire, a program helps incarcerated parents maintain relationships with their children. Data suggests it reduces recidivism, helps break the cycle of incarceration in families and improves resident behavior.

Juries often struggle to understand forensic science. A short training video could help.

COMMENTARY | One out of every five wrongful convictions cataloged through September 2023 involved improper forensic evidence. Studies indicate that just a little training could help jurors avoid sending innocent people to prison.

Drug decriminalization stumbled in Oregon. Other states are taking note.

The rocky start could slow the movement to treat addiction as a public health matter.

Cities are embracing teen curfews, though they might not curb crime

Experts worry that curfews disproportionately target young people of color.

Stifling prison heat used to be just a Southern problem. Not anymore.

Climate change has amplified heat-related struggles in more state prisons.

What needs to change at Rikers? Everything.

We asked more than a dozen criminal justice experts. They urged staying the course on borough-based jails—and many called for a federal takeover of Rikers in the meantime.