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Criminal Justice

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U.S. probation and pretrial services officers January Welks and Jennifer Simone discuss how the pandemic has called for new ways of thinking and working, in some cases leading to positive change in both their professional and personal lives. Officers Welks, Simone, and colleagues across the country, on the front line of the pandemic, share the adjustments they make to remain healthy and safe while continuing to keep the wheels of justice moving.  Clinical psychologist Guy Bourgon, a second time guest, reacts to their stories and describes how knowing your "why" and being proactive, predictable, and people-focused can help officers manage crisis. He explains how being forced to implement new practices can move organizations and individuals past the inertia that impedes change, making them stronger and better.

Host Mark Sherman talks with bank robber turned Georgetown law professor Shon Hopwood about how the system can help and hurt an inmate’s return to society. Shon’s unusual legal journey began during a twelve-year stint in federal prison for robbing banks. While there, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of two of his petitions, giving his life an unexpected turn. While on supervised release, Shon overcame many of the obstacles that stand in the way of most inmate’s successful reentry into society, to include finding a good job and attending the University of Washington School of Law on a Gates public interest scholarship. Today, he is a member of the bar, teaches constitutional and criminal law at Georgetown University Law School, and represents prison inmates before the federal courts. As a criminal justice reform advocate, he also lobbied successfully for the 2018 passage of the First Step Act.

There are many disciplines and experiences that go into the successful supervision of justice-involved individuals. On this episode of Off Paper, the criminal justice podcast from the FJC, host Mark Sherman talks to an individual whose career weaves together many of those threads. Dr. Robert Kinscherff is a clinical forensic psychologist and attorney  with more than thirty years of experience in forensic mental health. He has been a Senior Fellow in Law and Neuroscience at the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy at Harvard Law School. Dr. Kinscherff also has broad governmental experience having held senior state positions in Massachusetts administering in-patient forensic mental health services , juvenile and adult court clinic operations and diversion programs, as well as specialty courts for persons with mental illness and significant addiction, trauma and multi-system involvement. Mark’s discussion with Dr. Kinscherff explores all those facets of his training and experience and his observations regarding important issues in supervising justice-involved individuals.

This episode of Off Paper is a conversation with Doug Burris about innovation and leadership in the criminal justice system. Mr. Burris has served for 17 years as the Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri.

In Print: Available for Distribution

The concluding volume of the series covers debates concerning structural changes to the federal courts, including the creation of the U.S. magistrate and U.S. bankruptcy judge positions, and alterations to the federal appellate system, including the division of the Fifth Circuit, the creation of the Federal Circuit, and proposals for a national court of appeals. A section on criminal justice reform recounts debates over access to counsel for indigent defendants, detention before trial, habeas corpus, and the creation of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The volume also covers proposed civil justice initiatives regarding diversity jurisdiction, class actions, case management, alternative dispute resolution, and the creation of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and concludes with discussions on the discipline of federal judges, including proposals for a nonimpeachment method for judicial removal.  

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from requiring a criminal defendant to pay "excessive bail" in order to get out of jail before trial. Nevertheless, nearly half a million people across the country are in pretrial detention. The collateral consequences of detention can affect a defendant's employment status, housing situation, and mental health, among other facets of his or her life. Off Paper's guests on this episode—Chief Pretrial Services Officer Chris Dozier and Pretrial Justice Institute Chief Executive Officer Cherise Fanno Burdeen—have been working for decades to reduce both the inequality in the federal and state bail systems and the number of defendants who are unnecessarily detained before trial.  On this episode of Off Paper host Mark Sherman talks to his guests about bail reform efforts, issues relating to jails and the consequences of pretrial detention.

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from requiring a criminal defendant to pay "excessive bail" in order to get out of jail before trial. Nevertheless, nearly half a million people across the country are in pretrial detention. The collateral consequences of detention can affect a defendant's employment status, housing situation, and mental health, among other facets of his or her life. Off Paper's guests on this episode—Chief Pretrial Services Officer Chris Dozier and Pretrial Justice Institute Chief Executive Officer Cherise Fanno Burdeen—have been working for decades to reduce both the inequality in the federal and state bail systems and the number of defendants who are unnecessarily detained before trial.  On this episode of Off Paper host Mark Sherman talks to his guests about bail reform efforts, issues relating to jails and the consequences of pretrial detention.

Chronic substance use and mental health disorders are common problems for individuals in the criminal justice system. Alone or together, and sometimes in conjunction with other risk factors, these disorders can drive behavior that results in violation of supervision conditions or even in new criminal conduct. To deal with these problems, probation and pretrial offices services offices in the nation’s 94 U.S. district courts maintain contracts with treatment providers. Sometimes these offices can also supplement contract services with community-based treatment.

But what does good treatment look like? How should treatment providers be evaluated? How can probation and pretrial services offices ensure that individuals on community supervision are receiving appropriate, high-quality care? What outcomes should be expected from treatment providers? And, finally, are there proven practices criminal justice professionals can use to improve treatment outcomes?

In this episode of Off Paper, Dr. Peter Luongo answers these questions and talks about his more than thirty years researching, making policy, and treating individuals with substance use and mental health disorders in the criminal justice system. Dr. Luongo, Executive Director of the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions (IRETA), has been a trainer and clinical consultant for the federal courts since 2011. Prior to that he served under three governors as director of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration. Dr. Luongo has served as a faculty associate at Johns Hopkins University, and, in 2015, he was nominated and elected a Class A Trustee of the General Services Board of Alcoholics Anonymous. Off Paper is hosted by Mark Sherman of the Federal Judicial Center.

Holistic defense is also called community-oriented defense, therapeutic defense, or holistic advocacy. Whatever the name, its purpose is to solve underlying social and environmental problems that may have contributed to an individual's involvement in crime. It does this by emphasizing teamwork, partnerships with other criminal justice stakeholders, and identification and mitigation of collateral consequences. By doing this, defense attorneys hope to improve public safety by helping clients avoid involvement in the criminal justice system and reducing recidivism. In this episode of Off Paper, federal defenders Kathy Nester (D. Utah) and Maureen Franco (W.D. Tex.), who have been at the forefront of this work in the federal system, talk about the role of the defender in building and sustaining a multi-stakeholder, district-wide reentry infrastructure and in developing and implementing collaborative, problem-solving courts.

In Print: Available for Distribution

Long Range Planning Series, Paper No. 2

An examination of some of the conflicting views and their underlying premises regarding federalization of the administration of justice, e.g., Does the Constitution dictate a limited role for the federal courts? Do the policy reasons underlying federalism argue for a restricted role? Does expanded jurisdiction subvert the appropriate role of the federal courts or threaten their quality and competence? Is there a principled basis for defining the federal courts' role? A concluding section notes that more practical considerations may be available to guide legislators and policy makers in preserving the unique role of the federal courts consistent with national interests.

This long range planning paper was reprinted in 23 Stetson Law Review, No. 3 (Summer 1994).

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