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Criminal Justice Reform
Criminal Justice Reform

There has never been as much energy and momentum behind criminal justice reform as there is today. In nearly every aspect, there is excitement and renewed optimism about delivering real reforms to help those who have suffered from a broken system for far too long. Freethink’s Criminal Justice Week is focused on highlighting the most innovative people and ideas that are making real progress in reforming our criminal justice system.

Each day we will focus on a different aspect of reform and dive into the topic through a series of videos and written features.

Policing

From community policing to citizen journalism, there are exciting reforms to policing from both inside and outside the precinct.

Policing

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Do We Need More Police Or Better Police?
Do We Need More Police Or Better Police?
#fixingjustice - Policing
Do We Need More Police Or Better Police?
American cities are safer than they used to be, but they’re still quite violent, and many economists think they’re under-policed.…
By Dan Bier
April 15, 2019

American cities are safer than they used to be, but they’re still quite violent, and many economists think they’re under-policed. More police could help reduce crime, but only if people trust them to do a good job.

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How to Hold Police Accountable
How to Hold Police Accountable
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How to Hold Police Accountable
The Invisible Institute is making Chicago police complaints easily available to the public—and is helping hold police accountable.
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April 15, 2019

A Freethink update: It's been several months since we first brought you the story of journalist Jamie Kalven and his influential "Sixteen Shots" expose in Slate that depicted a corrupt Chicago police department in the midst of a cover-up following the racist killing of teenager Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014. Since then, Kalven has written another critical piece,…

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Why the 6th Most Dangerous City is Turning to Community Policing
Why the 6th Most Dangerous City is Turning to Community Policing
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Why the 6th Most Dangerous City is Turning to Community Policing
Police departments around the country are increasingly looking at community policing programs as a tool to help reestablish trust in the communities they serve.
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April 15, 2019

While community policing programs are nothing new, they fell out of popularity after a big push in the early 90s due to shifting priorities and budget crunches of the Great Recession. But with growing scrutiny of police and their often strained relationships with minority communities, police departments are increasingly looking to community policing programs to bridge the gap and rebuild trust. The Rockford Police Department (RPD) is no exception…

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Civilian Oversight Is a Solution to Police Misconduct. But is it Effective?
Civilian Oversight Is a Solution to Police Misconduct. But is it Effective?
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Civilian Oversight Is a Solution to Police Misconduct. But is it Effective?
Creating a civilian review board to oversee police conduct seems like a straightforward solution to disciplinary issues on the force.…
By Andrew Denney
April 15, 2019

Creating a civilian review board to oversee police conduct seems like a straightforward solution to disciplinary issues on the force. But why is it so hard to implement?

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Community Policing is Back in Vogue. But Does it Work?
Community Policing is Back in Vogue. But Does it Work?
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Community Policing is Back in Vogue. But Does it Work?
As police departments look for ways to rebuild trust with their communities, an increasing number are turning to new community…
By Natalia Megas
April 15, 2019

As police departments look for ways to rebuild trust with their communities, an increasing number are turning to new community policing programs. But are they effective? As with most things, it depends on what you measure.

Prosecution

Prosecutors have enormous power in our modern criminal justice system and what they do with that power will have a profound impact on the success of the overall criminal justice reform movement.

Prosecution

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Exclusive Interview: How Miriam Krinsky is Leading Us to a Smarter & More...
Exclusive Interview: How Miriam Krinsky is Leading Us to a Smarter & More Equitable Justice System
#fixingjustice - Prosecution
Exclusive Interview: How Miriam Krinsky is Leading Us to a Smarter & More...
Her organization is bringing together a new generation of prosecutors with a shared vision of fair, compassionate, and responsible criminal…
By Dan Bier
April 16, 2019

Her organization is bringing together a new generation of prosecutors with a shared vision of fair, compassionate, and responsible criminal justice reform.

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Can a New Breed of Prosecutor Reform Our Broken System?
Can a New Breed of Prosecutor Reform Our Broken System?
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Can a New Breed of Prosecutor Reform Our Broken System?
Prosecutors are afforded a wide array of discretion within the criminal justice system and wielding that discretion appropriately could mean ending America’s mass incarceration problem.
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April 16, 2019

Emily Bazelon's new book Charged: The New Movement To Transform American Prosecution And End Mass Incarceration is an incredible tour de force that guides readers through America's broken criminal justice system through the eyes of two young people as they go through the system. The book reveals the breathtaking amount of power prosecutors wield in our modern legal system and highlights the ways that some reform-minded District Attorneys are using…

Sentencing Reform

We are taking a closer look at sentencing, from bail reform to restorative justice programs.

Re-entry

Navigating life as a returning citizen can be quite overwhelming. We look at several groups providing critical resources to those leaving prison and the latest research on the most effective ways to ease the transition back into society.

Re-entry

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The Ride Home from Prison
The Ride Home from Prison
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The Ride Home from Prison
The "Ride Home Program" sends drivers to pick up former inmates on their first day of freedom to help ensure…
By Amanda Winkler
April 18, 2019

The "Ride Home Program" sends drivers to pick up former inmates on their first day of freedom to help ensure a smooth transition in those first few critical hours.

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Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Break the Cycle of Violence?
Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Break the Cycle of Violence?
#fixingjustice - Re-entry
Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Break the Cycle of Violence?
CBT is a promising way to reduce violence, so why has it been so hard to scale?
By Dan Bier
April 18, 2019

CBT is a promising way to reduce violence, so why has it been so hard to scale?

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This Former Wall Street Felon is Helping Ex-Cons Find Jobs
This Former Wall Street Felon is Helping Ex-Cons Find Jobs
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This Former Wall Street Felon is Helping Ex-Cons Find Jobs
Doing prison time changed this Wall Street trader’s life. Now he’s helping others get jobs after prison - and stay out for good.
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April 18, 2019

Richard Bronson’s story could inspire a movie—and that’s not far from what happened. He worked for the firm depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street before getting charged with financial crimes and spending 2 years in prison. While incarcerated, his eyes were opened to the inequities prisoners faced and how daunting re-entry to society was. He decided to do something about it. He started the website 70 Million Jobs,…

Clean Decisions
Hope After Prison
Hope After Prison
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Clean Decisions
Hope After Prison
This former inmate is cleaning up his city and helping other ex-cons turn their lives around.
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June 8, 2019

When Will Aliva got out of prison, he’d paid his debt to society - but that didn’t help him pay his bills. Like many ex-cons, he struggled to find companies that would take a chance on hiring him. Too often, this roadblock results in ex-cons winding up back behind bars as they turn to old illegal activities to make ends meet. He decided to tackle the problem head on and…

Harm Reduction

We are wrapping the week by looking at how to reduce crime overall — from changing how we think about drugs and harm reduction policies to interdiction programs that seek to stop violence before it starts.

Hard Reduction

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A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'
A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'
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A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'
Freethink followed Andre T. Mitchell, the founder of Man Up!, and his violence interrupter team for a day in Brooklyn…
By Michelle Frankfurter
April 19, 2019

Freethink followed Andre T. Mitchell, the founder of Man Up!, and his violence interrupter team for a day in Brooklyn as they responded to a recent shooting in a nearby neighborhood.

#fixingjustice - Harm Reduction
Should Violence be Treated Like A Disease?
Should Violence be Treated Like A Disease?
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Should Violence be Treated Like A Disease?
Epidemiologist Dr. Gary Slutkin of Cure Violence says we need to treat violence like a public health crisis and employ…
By Amanda Winkler
April 19, 2019

Epidemiologist Dr. Gary Slutkin of Cure Violence says we need to treat violence like a public health crisis and employ the same types of strategies we use in medicine to treat violence.

#fixingjustice - Re-entry
24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
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24 Years For a Crime He Didn’t Commit
When a prisoner serving a life sentence is suddenly found to be innocent, it often makes national news. But what happens after the cameras go away?
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April 18, 2019

There are around 2,200 exonerees in the U.S.—people who were convicted of a crime and then later proven innocent by their own doggedness or new evidence in a case. When they are freed from prison, their lives are often saddled by the same issues that hold back people who actually committed a crime—lack of education, no job skills or employment history, and the stigma of having spent years in prison.…