Resources

The Academy for Justice generates a wide range of research on criminal justice reform, which covers five main areas: Punishable Crimes, Policing, Pretrial & Trial, Punishment & Sentencing, and Prison, Release & Reentry.

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    Democratic Accountability and Policing

    Maria Ponomarenko, Adjunct Professor of Law and Deputy Director of the Policing Project at New York University, discusses how often when people talk about accountability in policing, they are focused on “back-end” accountability, which kicks in after something has gone wrong. What is needed in policing is accountability on the “front end”—which means that the public gets to have a say in what the rules for policing should be in the first place.

    What the Brain Saw: The Case of Trayvon Martin and the Need for Eyewitness Identification Reform

    Valena Beety, Professor of Law and Deputy Director of the Academy for Justice here at Arizona State University, writes about how the shooting of Trayvon Martin caused many to question what exactly led to the death of an unarmed seventeen-year-old African-American teenager. This essay provides at least one answer: the brain in creating and preserving memories can distort one’s perception of events and people.

    Race and Sentencing Disparity

    Cassia Spohn, Foundation Professor of Criminology and Director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, discusses how although the overt and widespread racism that characterized the operation of the criminal justice system during the early part of the 20th century has largely been eliminated, racial disparities in sentencing and punishment persist.

    Race and Adjudication

    Paul Butler, Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University, elaborates on how at virtually every step of adjudication—charging, setting bail, plea-bargaining, jury selection, trial, and sentencing—law enforcement officials exercise discretion in ways that disproportionately harm people of color.

    Prosecutorial Guidelines

    John F. Pfaff, Professor of Law at Fordham University, discusses how reformers are increasingly aware of the central role prosecutors have played in driving up the U.S. prison population. Yet few if any reform efforts have sought to directly restrict prosecutorial power.

    Police Use of Force

    L. Song Richardson, Interim Dean and Professor of Law at University of California, Irvine illuminates us on how “racial anxiety” can enable racial disparities in police uses of force even in the absence of racial animus and even when people of color are acting identically to their white counterparts.

    Race and the Fourth Amendment

    Devon W. Carbado, the Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law and Associate Vice Chancellor from UCLA, discusses how few people, including lawyers, journalists, legislators, educators, and community organizers, understand the enormously important role Fourth Amendment law plays in enabling the very thing it ought to prevent: racial profiling and police violence.

    Racial Profiling

    David A. Harris, Professor of Law and John E. Murray Faculty Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh, discusses how his paper describes the points at which racial profiling arises in law enforcement, the legal tools and incentives that drive it, and the harm that racial profiling does to people, and to the criminal justice system as a whole.

    Race and the New Policing

    Jeffrey Fagan, Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Epidemiology from Columbia University, writes about the “New Policing” model and its emphasis on advanced statistical metrics, new forms of organizational accountability, and aggressive tactical enforcement of minor crimes has been adopted in large and small cities, and has been institutionalized in everyday police-citizen interactions, especially among residents of poorer, often minority, and higher crime areas.

    Legal Remedies for Police Misconduct

    Rachel A. Harmon, F.D.G. Ribble Professor of Law from University of Virginia discusses how the federal courts have limited the legal remedies for constitutional violations in policing to the point that they do not discourage police misconduct to the satisfaction of many communities.

    Judicial Review of Strict Liability Local Ordinances

    Brenner Fissell, Associate Professor of Law at Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University discusses the paper Judicial Review of Strict Liability Local Ordinances that he co-authored with Guyora Binder for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    Internal and External Challenges to Culpability

    Stephen Morse, Ferdinand Wakeman Hubbell Professor of Law, Professor of Psychology and Law in Psychiatry, and Associate Director, Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses his paper Internal and External Challenges to Culpability that he authored for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    Willful Blindness Doctrine: Justifiable in Principle, Problematic in Practice

    Kenneth Simons, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Philosophy at University of California, Irvine School of Law, discusses his paper Willful Blindness Doctrine: Justifiable in Principle, Problematic in Practice that he authored for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    Conspiracy, Complicity, and the Scope of Contemplated Crime

    Kimberly Ferzan, Earle Hepburn Professor of Law and Co-Director for the Institute of Law & Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, discusses her paper Conspiracy, Complicity, and the Scope of Contemplated Crime that she authored for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    Two Sides of the Same Interpretive Coin: The Presumption of Mens Rea and the Historical Rule of Lenity

    Shon Hopwood, Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown University, discusses his paper Two Sides of the Same Interpretive Coin: The Presumption of Mens Rea and the Historical Rule of Lenity, for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    Why the Mind Matters in Criminal Law

    Joshua Kleinfeld, Professor of Law and Philosophy at Northwestern University, discusses how a theory of a social practice must be able to carry a certain descriptive and interpretive burden: it must be able to account for those features of the practice sufficiently central to its character that, without them, the practice would become distorted or unrecognizable as a phenomenon in the social world.

    Ignorance of Wrongdoing and Mens Rea

    Douglas Husak, Distinguished Professor at Rutgers, discusses Ignorance of Wrongdoing and Mens Rea for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    Versari Crimes

    Stephen Garvey, A. Robert Noll Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, discusses his paper Versari Crimes that he authored for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    Decarceration and Default Mental Status

    Benjamin Levin, Associate Professor of Law at University of Colorado Law School, discusses his paper Decarceration and Default Mental States that he authored for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    The Depths of Malice

    Vera Bergelson, Distinguished Professor of Law and Robert E. Knowlton Scholar at Rutgers Law School, discusses her paper The Depths of Malice that she authored for the Guilty Minds Virtual Conference hosted by the Academy for Justice and Arizona State Law Journal.

    On Guilty Minds

    Michael Serota, Visiting Assistant Professor at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and Associate Deputy Director of the Academy for Justice, introduces the Guilty Minds conference and discusses the topic of mens rea reform and his paper.

    Prosecuting Opiate Use

    The dominant narrative of the opiate crisis focuses on white suburban/urban areas. This ignores the increasingly high use of opiates in rural areas.

    The Overdose Homicide Epidemic

    Every day, nearly one thousand people seek treatment in American emergency rooms for opioid addiction. Drug overdose deaths have reached unparalleled levels.

    Evidence on Fire

    Human being have long been fascinated by the awesome and unforgiveable power of fire. From old southern stories about barn burners to The Confession Tapes’ chronical of false confessions to murder by arson, fire investigations evoke the worst of human imagination.

    Free Government Cell

    Lifeline phone service is a federal program that gifts free cell phones to Americans on government assistance and those who fall below certain income thresholds.

    Parental Rights Termination

    Three reasons incarcerated parents have their parental rights terminated.

    Parental Rights

    Quick Questions and Answers

    Parent Child Relationship While Incarcerated

    Actions you should take while incarcerated to maintain a parent-child relationship

    Incarcerated Veterans Benefits

    Many benefits for veterans are impacted by incarceration. This will depend on the type of benefit and the reason for your incarceration. Read below to find out how to maintain or regain your benefits.

    Tempe Police Use of Force Sentinel Event Review (SER)

    The events of August 29, 2020 at the Hawthorne Suites Hotel unfolded quickly, and led to undesired outcomes that none of the participants intended.

    Expungement Reform in Arizona: The Empirical Case for a Clean Slate

    In the past few years, many states have adopted or expanded legislation allowing people who meet certain eligibility requirements to expunge their adult criminal convictions. The latest wave of reforms makes this relief automatic after the requisite number of crime-free years have passed.

    Forensic Evidence in Arizona: Reforms for Victims and Defendants

    This Article recognizes the strengths of the current forensic evidence system in Arizona and proposes innovative reforms appropriate for labs that are leaders in the field. Arizona is particularly well situated to increase its lab independence and to serve additional members of the criminal legal community: namely, defendants and victims.

    Reforming Criminal Justice Volume 1: Introduction and Criminalization

    Reforming Criminal Justice is a four-volume report meant to enlighten reform efforts in the United States with the research and analysis of leading academics. Broken down into individual chapters—each authored by a top scholar in the relevant field—the report covers dozens of topics within the areas of criminalization, policing, pretrial and trial processes, punishment, incarceration, and release.

    Reducing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: Arizona’s Statewide Study in Partnership with the HB2570 Legislative Study Committee – November 2020

    The United States is now waking up to the fact that Indigenous Peoples have been oppressed by the dominant (non-Indigenous) culture for centuries. This oppression continues today and has led to a national and international crisis involving missing and murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP).

    Recommendations and Resources for Prosecutors Considering Non-Prosecution Policies for Drug Offenses

    Non-prosecution practices and policies have long been informally part of the fabric of the American criminal justice system, and more formal programs created by prosecutors have proliferated in modern times with growing and justified concerns about mass incarceration and mass punishment.

    Guiding Points and Pitfalls for Reducing Reliance on Cash Bail

    The Academy for Justice recently had the opportunity to work with an incoming District Attorney to formulate two best practice guides seeking to identify next steps, as well as potential pitfalls to avoid, on two specific topics based on available research.

    Marijuana Clemency: Letter to President Biden

    On September 14, 2021, a letter was delivered to President Joe Biden requesting a general pardon to all persons subject to federal criminal or civil enforcement on the basis of a nonviolent marijuana offense.

    Reforming Criminal Justice Volume 2: Policing

    Reforming Criminal Justice is a four-volume report meant to enlighten reform efforts in the United States with the research and analysis of leading academics. Broken down into individual chapters—each authored by a top scholar in the relevant field—the report covers dozens of topics within the areas of criminalization, policing, pretrial and trial processes, punishment, incarceration, and release. T

    Reforming Criminal Justice Volume 3: Pretrial and Trial Processes

    Reforming Criminal Justice is a four-volume report meant to enlighten reform efforts in the United States with the research and analysis of leading academics. Broken down into individual chapters—each authored by a top scholar in the relevant field—the report covers dozens of topics within the areas of criminalization, policing, pretrial and trial processes, punishment, incarceration, and release.

    Reforming Criminal JusticeVolume 4: Punishment, Incarceration, and Release

    Reforming Criminal Justice is a four-volume report meant to enlighten reform efforts in the United States with the research and analysis of leading academics. Broken down into individual chapters—each authored by a top scholar in the relevant field—the report covers dozens of topics within the areas of criminalization, policing, pretrial and trial processes, punishment, incarceration, and release.

    Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System

    A book talk with the author of Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System, M. Chris Fabricant, Director of Strategic Litigation at the Innocence Project and one of the nation’s leading experts on forensic sciences and the criminal justice system.

    Understanding the Criminal Justice System

    Criminal laws are the rules and prohibitions—typically drafted by legislators and codified in criminal statutes—that tell us how to behave if we want to avoid state-sanctioned punishment. Crimes are acts that violate these laws.

    Ensuring Marijuana Reform Is Effective Criminal Justice Reform

    This essay discusses how Arizona should best advance marijuana legalization so that it can significantly improve Arizona’s criminal justice system. Now that Arizona has legalized marijuana via ballot initiative, we focus on steps that Arizona policymakers and advocates who are interested in improving the criminal justice system can take to ensure that legalization best advances this goal.

    Arizona’s Sex Offender Laws: Recommendations for Reform

    This article recommends ways to reform Arizona’s sex offender laws. It focuses first on laws designed to address the danger posed by convicted sex offenders: registration requirements, community notification, residence restrictions, and civil commitment.

    Homelessness, Indignity, and the Promise of Mandatory Citations for Urban Camping

    Custodial arrests for the crimes intrinsically connected to homelessness, such as urban camping, inflict needless indignity on Arizona’s homeless residents. Arizona has an estimated 10,000 individuals currently experiencing homelessness, nearly half of whom are unsheltered—living on the streets, in desert washes, in vehicles, or other places not meant for human habitation.

    Reforming Sentencing Policies and Practices in Arizona

    This article calls for sentencing reforms designed to slow the flow of people into prison, reduce both the number of persons now incarcerated and the lengths of sentences they are serving, and ameliorate unwarranted disparities in imprisonment.

    Improving Criminal Justice Decisions

    All government decisions matter. But few matter more than those involving the criminal justice system. These are not easy decisions. Nor do we expect public officials to always get them right. But given the high stakes and human consequences involved, we do have a legitimate expectation that these decisions will be made in the right way—that is, rationally, deliberately, and informed by expertise.

    Safety, Crisis, and Criminal Law

    This article argues that the overlapping crises of 2020 expose dysfunction in the way criminal law has defined and promoted safety. Simply put, reliance on detention and rigorous, though disproportionate policing and prosecution of minority communities has failed to promote safety in the face of a global pandemic and the killing of Black and Brown people by police.

    Advancing Bail and Pretrial Justice Reform in Arizona

    This article assesses Arizona’s pretrial justice reforms to date and suggests some ways to further improve pretrial justice, to remedy the fact that 78.5% of the people held in the state’s jails have not been convicted of the crimes for which they were arrested, but rather are awaiting trial.

    Vulnerable and Valued: Protecting Youth from the Perils of Custodial Interrogation

    This article advocates for judicial and legislative reforms that will ensure all youth are protected from the harms of coercive police interrogation. Drawing upon the substantial body of research on adolescent development and the growing body of research on racial bias and the experiences of youth of color, this article finds that current Arizona law leaves youth vulnerable to wrongful convictions and trauma caused by coercive interrogation practices.

    Raising Arizona’s Commitment to Health and Safety: The Need for Independent Oversight of Arizona’s Prison System

    Arizona’s correctional system has long been the subject of high-profile lawsuits, scandals, and other serious grievances that demand increased levels of transparency and accountability.

    The Incentives of Private Prisons

    A common criticism of private prisons is that they encourage the firms running them to cut services, programming, and training, since cutting costs maximizes profit, and the resulting increases in recidivism actually help keep prisons full and the payments coming in.