Juvenile court fees and costs are invisible shackles that tether children to a broken system
AUG. 14, 2023 – Across the country, far too many children passing through juvenile court systems are burdened with myriad fines, fees, and other costs without any regard for their ability to pay – often forcing youth and their families into desperate situations that cause irreparable harm and increase the likelihood of recidivism. In an op-ed in The Imprint, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Executive Director Joey Orduña Hastings, and Gault Center Executive Director Mary Ann Scali explain why policymakers must take action to eliminate the financial demands imposed on children and families by the criminal legal system.
“Requiring children to pay to move through the legal process is unjust and ineffective, and provides no public safety benefit. Even modest fees and costs act as invisible shackles, tethering children to a broken system and perpetuating cycles of discrimination, poverty and incarceration.”
Bring back the jury trial
JUNE 15, 2023 – The right to a trial is enshrined in the 6th Amendment, but as caseloads expanded in the era of mass incarceration, jury trials all but disappeared, as the system came to rely on guilty pleas to resolve cases. Now, the system routinely punishes those who exercise this constitutional right with a ‘trial penalty’ – the difference between the sentence attached to a plea offer versus the much greater sentence an individual may receive if convicted by a jury. This inequity prompted the formation of the Trial Penalty Coalition, a group of organizations and individuals united around ending this coercive and unjust practice. In an op-ed in The Crime Report, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explains the concerning consequences of coercive plea bargaining and the trial penalty and why we must act now to address it.
“Plea bargaining is, in theory, intended to serve as an integral part of our criminal legal system… But it too often ends up in tension with the notion of justice, punishing those who exercise their constitutional right to trial and even, at times, coercing innocent individuals to enter a plea of guilty.”
Ending cash-based jailing: a win for the constitution and public safety
MAY 19, 2023 – The Los Angeles Superior Court issued an order to end enforcement of LA’s bail schedule, a system which assigns a price to release from jail based solely on arrest charges without any regard for individualized factors including the strength of evidence, flight risk, or a person’s financial status. In an op-ed in the Daily Journal, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, and retired California Courts of Appeal Senior Justice Anthony Kline explain why this decision is a victory for the people of LA and long-term public safety.
“Both arrested individuals and the broader community are safer when people can continue their lives with their families, quickly return to work, and maintain their own health until their next court appearance…. This ruling should be applauded by anyone with an interest in protecting both the Constitution and public safety.”
‘Felony murder’ laws impose punishment that doesn’t fit the crime or keep us safer
MAY 4, 2023 – As we mark five decades since the start of mass incarceration in the United States, lawmakers must confront the extreme sentencing policies that have fueled the staggering increase in our prison population. We can start by eliminating “felony murder” laws, which allow prosecutors to charge people with murder for participating in a felony that resulted in someone being killed – even if the individual did not directly cause or intend the loss of life. In an op-ed in Marketwatch, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and The Sentencing Project Co-Director of Research Nazgol Ghandnoosh explain why we must abolish ineffective and unjust felony murder statutes.
“The criminal legal system loses credibility when someone can be sentenced to life without parole for simply being in the same room as a person who took a life. It is in clear tension with how our legal system is supposed to work, where a criminal sentence is proportional to the moral weight of a crime and accounts for the actions of the individual.”
To achieve public safety, invest in communities – not cages
MARCH 25, 2023 – A dangerous and disheartening backlash to justice reform – predicated on misinformation and an effort to resurrect failed tough-on-crime tactics – has sadly led to the defeat of a ten-plus year effort to reform DC’s outdated criminal code. But as FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Communications Director Alyssa Kress explain in this op-ed in Marketwatch, creating safe and healthy communities requires embracing evidence-backed reforms that reduce incarceration rates and shift resources from punishment to prevention.
“While too many politicians give lip service to reform, those who really care about justice are doing the work, regardless of electoral consequences. We need more bold, innovative leaders willing to rethink how we achieve safety and accountability, not those who go where the wind blows and spread misinformation for political gain.”
Los Angeles’ bail schedule is unconstitutional and a threat to public safety
MARCH 12, 2023 – The Los Angeles County Superior Court has before it a case testing the constitutionality of LA’s bail schedule, which assigns a price to freedom based only on arrest charges – without accounting for the strength (or lack) of evidence, the likelihood of a person returning to court, or other individualized factors. In a Los Angeles Daily News op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, and retired California Courts of Appeal Senior Justice Anthony Kline explain how the current flawed bail system harms community members and undermines public safety and why LA city and county leaders should act today to end it.
“[LA’s] bail schedule conditions freedom on nothing more than a person’s ability to pay…. This system is not only unconstitutional but also undermines public safety by inflicting vast collateral consequences on individuals, many of whom will ultimately not even be charged with a crime.”
How local D.A.s can help protect immigrant families from dangerous federal policies
JAN. 19, 2023 – The cruel and inhumane response to our nation’s border crisis – from using migrants as political pawns to President Biden expanding harsh policies intended to crack down on asylum seekers – has left a void of compassionate leadership in immigration policy. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain how elected prosecutors can be unexpected leaders in the immigration debate by implementing policies that support immigrant communities, build local trust, and promote public safety for all.
“We know that anti-immigrant policies aren’t just inhumane; they’re also dangerous. Our criminal legal system depends on all members of the community to report crimes, cooperate with investigators, testify in court and join efforts to prevent future violence — but we cannot expect people to collaborate with a government they don’t trust.”
Police used DNA to identify a suspect in the Idaho killings. What does that tell us?
JAN. 10, 2023 – Developments in DNA technology can be incredibly beneficial to investigations – and also help exonerate the innocent – but it’s essential that criminal justice leaders and the public understand their limitations. In an op-ed in NBC News THINK, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Senior Research, Policy and Communications Associate Rebecca Blair explain why we must think critically about DNA analysis as well as other advancements in forensic science to ensure that every investigation meets the high standards required for justice and accountability.
“The criminal legal system is increasingly relying on innovative new techniques for analyzing genetic material. As such, it’s important that we build a greater understanding among both the criminal justice field and the public of how DNA is used, what it can tell us definitively and what it cannot.”
2023 presents reform opportunities for prosecutors across the nation
JAN. 6, 2023 – Last year, voters across the country demonstrated their continuing appetite for justice reform with the election and re-election of inspiring local prosecutors who are leading the charge on transforming the criminal legal system. In an op-ed in The Crime Report, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discusses the successes of the reform-minded prosecutor movement in 2022 and looks ahead to opportunities for reform in 2023, from addressing extreme sentences and holding police accountable to promoting reproductive justice and providing transparency through data.
“Time and again, pundits and tough-on-crime forces have prematurely predicted the demise of the reform-minded prosecutor movement. But 2022 solidified that this is in fact a movement, not a moment, and these elected officials are poised to lead the way on justice reform in 2023.”
It’s time to take punishment out of our mental health response
DEC. 8, 2022 – All too often, people experiencing mental health crises in the U.S. are met with police and punishment instead of care and compassion. In an op-ed in USA Today, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George, retired Albany, N.Y. Police Chief Brendan Cox, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain how elected prosecutors, law enforcement, public health experts, and community leaders can come together to develop new responses to mental health that promote the health and safety of individuals and communities.
“When someone is in crisis and needs help, we have a choice: We can continue to try to incarcerate our way out of our country’s mental health challenges or we can respond with humanity and care, saving lives and creating healthier, safer communities.”
Reform – not crime – was the winning message in 2022
NOV. 11, 2022 – Despite rampant fearmongering from tough-on-crime proponents in the 2022 election cycle, communities showed yet again that they want real change in the justice system. In an op-ed in The Crime Report, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Communications Director Alyssa Kress recap the many electoral victories for reform-minded prosecutors around the country and discuss why we must continue to push back on widespread misinformation about crime and crime that only serves to protect the status quo.
“We hope that the visionary leaders elected…will help fuel changes in their communities and that those who remain wedded to traditional tough-on-crime approaches will open their minds to a different – and safer – future.”
Election law isn’t just a voting rights issue – it’s also a public safety issue
NOV. 7, 2022 – In Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court will consider a little-known legal concept called the “independent state legislature theory” (ISLT) that, if adopted, would fracture the system of checks and balances at the heart of American democracy by allowing state legislatures to have unlimited and unrestrained authority over regulating federal elections and drawing congressional maps. In an op-ed in USA Today, Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain why all of us should be alarmed by the harmful impact a SCOTUS decision legitimizing ISLT could have on the integrity of judicial review and law enforcement’s ability to keep communities safe.
“A Supreme Court decision legitimizing [ISLT] could destroy public trust in the legitimacy of the judiciary and electoral systems, which isn’t just a voting rights issue – it’s a public safety issue.”
Wrongful convictions cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Wrongdoing prosecutors must be held accountable.
OCT. 14, 2022 – Nearly a decade after Adnan Syed’s case gained notoriety on the podcast Serial, prosecutors in Baltimore announced that they were dropping all charges against him, after examining critical exculpatory evidence never disclosed during his initial trial. In the wake of this long overdue correction of a past injustice, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Communications Director Alyssa Kress discuss in an op-ed in MarketWatch the larger problem across the country with prosecutorial misconduct that leads to wrongful convictions, and the obligation of elected prosecutors to address and learn from the mistakes of the past so that the same errors do not play out time and time again.
“The power to take away another person’s freedom is an immense responsibility. With that responsibility comes the imperative to correct and learn from past mistakes, with due recognition of the devastating consequences when these ideals are not met.”
Gavin Newsom’s veto of California safe injection sites sacrifices lives to politics
SEPT. 7, 2022 – California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have allowed San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland to operate overdose prevention sites – legally-sanctioned spaces where people can consume self-supplied drugs under the supervision of staff trained to respond in the event of an overdose. In an op-ed in The Sacramento Bee, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Research & Policy Associate Reeve Jacobus explain why policymakers like Governor Newsom are putting politics above people’s lives by ignoring extensive research showing the life-saving benefits of OPSs.
“While opponents argue that overdose prevention sites perpetuate drug use, the opposite is true. These sites connect users to community-based treatment and are associated with an increase in those seeking treatment. And they don’t lead to more crime in surrounding areas.”
DeSantis’ suspension of duly elected prosecutor Andrew Warren undermines the democratic process
AUG. 23, 2022 – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s recent suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren is a dangerous intrusion on prosecutorial discretion and the will of the voters who have twice embraced SA Warren’s reform agenda. In an op-ed in The Crime Report, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky argues that we should applaud transparency from prosecutors who are promoting both justice and safety by using their limited resources to prioritize serious crimes.
“By making clear his priorities in ensuring the safety and well-being of his community, Warren was doing exactly what the voters of his community had elected him to do; he was fulfilling his sworn and ethical obligation to pursue justice.”
Courts have ruled that sentencing kids to die in prison is cruel and unusual. Now they’re reconsidering when adulthood starts.
AUG. 19, 2022 – A few court decisions in recent years have recognized that many of the justifications for treating juveniles differently than adults in the criminal legal system should also apply to “emerging adults” in their late teens and early-to-mid twenties. At this age, their brains are still developing, making them more impulsive and susceptible to peer pressure but also more likely to grow and change. In a Marketwatch op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Research and Policy Associate Rebecca Blair explain why it’s essential that our justice system reconsider when adulthood starts.
“We can acknowledge that violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum, that holding individuals accountable doesn’t mean ignoring the factors that influenced their actions. We can recognize that young people grow up and decide to care who they become.”
California’s ‘three strikes’ law still carries a devastating human and financial cost. End it now
AUG. 12, 2022 – California’s three strikes law has resulted in harsh and unnecessary extreme sentences at great human and financial cost, without making communities safer. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky argue that the three strikes law is antithetical to justice and explain why the CA Supreme Court must ensure that elected prosecutors maintain discretion to not pursue these enhancements.
“It’s easy to believe that locking people up for longer periods of time makes us safer. But there is no evidence that extreme sentences improve public safety.”
Drug-induced homicide should not result in prison time for those who call for help
AUG. 2, 2022 – Drug-induced-homicide prosecutions involve charging individuals with homicide when they supply drugs that result in a fatal overdose, even if there was no specific intent to kill. DIH prosecutions have become more common in recent years despite evidence that they are ineffective at reducing overdoses and can in fact exacerbate the harms of this crisis. Read more about why prosecutors should instead embrace a harm reduction approach in this USA Today op-ed by Pima County Attorney Laura Conover, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, and Northeastern University School of Law’s Health in Justice Action Lab Faculty Director Leo Beletsky.
“As long as [drug-induced homicide] laws are still on the books, elected prosecutors have the power to choose a different paradigm. They can embrace a public health response and harm reduction approaches over punitive carceral responses.”
Memo to prosecutors: Visit your local prison
JULY 15, 2022 – Elected prosecutors hold immense power over who is sent to prison and for how long, yet many have never visited a correctional facility. In this op-ed in The Crime Report, Nueces County, TX District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, Portsmouth, VA Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Morales, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain why every prosecutor should #VisitAPrison and see firsthand the harsh reality of mass incarceration.
“Perhaps if more prosecutors understood the inhumane and dangerous conditions of jails and prisons – and invested in understanding the people living in these facilities – they would think twice about alternatives before asking to send human beings to these facilities, removing them from supports in their community.”
What the U.S. can learn from Germany on youth justice
JUNE 16, 2022 – The United States is the only country in the world to condemn children to life without parole, and in many states, there is no minimum age for the prosecution of kids. In comparison, Germany’s justice system treats children like children, focusing on rehabilitation instead of punishment. In this op-ed in Marketwatch, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explains why we should be following Germany’s lead in how our legal system treats children.
“Germany’s juvenile justice system can and should inspire us to want more for America’s children, who deserve to be treated as kids and given the support they need to thrive rather than be saddled with trauma and burdens that can last a lifetime.”
Setting the record straight after the SF recall: Voters still support reform
JUNE 13, 2022 – The recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was fueled by a deep-pocketed special interest campaign that preyed on the fears and anxieties people felt in the wake of an unprecedented pandemic that disrupted lives and created tremendous challenges. FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explains in an op-ed in The Crime Report why this singular outcome should not be interpreted as a sign that voters are rejecting common-sense criminal justice reforms and recounts the many results nationwide underscoring that momentum for change remains strong.
“While what happened in San Francisco is disappointing to those seeking to advance change, it does not signal the end of this movement. Instead, it underscores its success and the resulting threat it poses to the status quo. And that should motivate all who seek a more just criminal legal system to fight back; these changes are just getting started.”
Anti-trans laws make everyone less safe
MAY 17, 2022 – Across the country, state legislators backing anti-trans efforts have created an illusory problem as a way to distract from the very real issues facing their states. Deeply troubling laws stigmatizing and potentially criminalizing transgender children and the people who care for them are putting both the lives of children and public safety at risk. Read more on how prosecutors can take a stand to protect trans children in this Washington Post op-ed by FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.
“As long as states continue to enact hateful and misguided laws, local elected prosecutors — who take an oath to protect all in their communities — have no choice but to exercise their vast discretion and refuse to prosecute.”
The death penalty can’t be fixed. It’s time to end it.
APRIL 18, 2022 – There is no evidence that the death penalty makes us safer. Instead, it punishes the most vulnerable among us, threatens the innocent, and is rife with racial disparities. Yet some states continue to escalate their use of capital punishment. In this NBC Think op-ed, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain why the death penalty can’t be fixed and call for an end to capital punishment, once and for all.
“No matter how horrific or heart-wrenching the case in front of us, we have to remember that as long as the death penalty exists, it will continue to amplify the worst parts of our justice system. We’re well past the time for quibbling over how to kill. Now it’s time to grapple, once and for all, with IF we kill. And the answer must be a resounding no.”
Children deserve protections that too many aren’t getting in the US justice system
MARCH 8, 2022 – In the United States, children have few, if any, protections during interrogations, which has led to numerous false confessions that landed innocent teenagers behind bars for decades. In an op-ed in USA Today, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Fair Trials Global CEO Norman L. Reimer discuss how policymakers, prosecutors, and law enforcement can take a stand to safeguard young people during questioning and align our practices with international standards.
“Handcuffing, shackling, lying, threatening, cajoling and hours of questioning often yield false confessions from adults. History and data tell us that these practices are even more dangerous when used against children.”
‘Crack pipe’ rhetoric is not only wrong, it’s deadly. Harm reduction efforts save lives.
FEB 21, 2022 – After the Biden Administration closed its application period for a harm reduction grant program, there was a media firestorm and backlash from some around the funding of safe smoking kits, which have been proven to help save lives. The attacks were filled with misinformation and racist undertones stemming from decades of criminalizing drug use and “just say no” messaging. In an op-ed in USA Today, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky urges leaders to reject false rhetoric around drug use and instead embrace proven harm reduction strategies – like this grant program – that can help save lives.
“The alternative to decades of failed policies can be found in dedicating resources to things like smoking safety kits, safe injection sites and other public health-based strategies. It’s time to chart a new way forward. Let’s not accede to overblown headlines and misinformation that will cost lives.”
Tough-on-crime laws and mass incarceration waste tax dollars and don’t make us any safer
JAN. 31, 2022 – Anti-reform forces continue to point fingers at reform-minded prosecutors for increases in crime, a dynamic fueling the recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. But as FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky writes in an op-ed in MarketWatch, these attacks are unfounded, at odds with the data, and ignore the need to proactively address the root causes of crime.
“[S]ome critics of [reform] … argue that more cops, more prisons and more people behind bars is the only way to address a rising tide of violence. Yet none of these strategies has been proven to prevent crime.”
Ending Unnecessary Traffic Stops That Can Kill
DEC. 20, 2021 – In 2020, over 10 percent of police killings began with a traffic stop. In an effort to prevent these opportunities for fatal interactions with police and address the racial disparities inherent in traffic stops, some reform-minded prosecutors are declining to prosecute cases that stem from non-public safety stops. In an op-ed in The Crime Report, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and former Albany, NY Police Chief Brendan Cox discuss why these changes are necessary and why more prosecutors, law enforcement leaders, and legislators should get on board.
“All the evidence shows that the dangers of these traffic stops – including exacerbating troubling racial disparities – significantly outweigh any potential benefit to public safety.”
How (Some) Prosecutors Changed the Face of Justice in 2021
DEC. 7, 2021 – Reform-minded prosecutors represent around 20 percent of Americans, and the strength of this movement grows with each election cycle as voters increasingly realize that the outdated policies of mass incarceration have deepened racial inequality, placed enormous burdens on taxpayers, and failed to keep communities safe. In an op-ed in The Crime Report, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky describes how reform-minded prosecutors elected in 2020 have made their mark in their first year in office and calls on President Biden to create a Task Force on 21st Century Prosecution to solidify, support, and expand on this success.
“More and more voters in communities large and small, rural and urban, blue and red across the nation are electing a new generation of leaders delivering evidence-based reforms that promote public safety and acknowledge racial disparities.”
George Gascón’s policies are based in science and backed by voters
NOV. 22, 2021 – After years of failed “tough-on-crime” policies in Los Angeles that put more people behind bars without making communities any safer, voters called for change by electing District Attorney George Gascón in 2020. Since taking office, DA Gascón has pursued reforms that undo the injustices of mass incarceration while promoting public safety and advocating for victims of violent crime, but he has also faced relentless pushback. In this Los Angeles Daily News op-ed, former Los Angeles District Attorneys Gil Garcetti and Ira Reiner and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss why DA Gascón’s evidence-based policies are backed by voters as well as many victims of crime and call on those who have undermined him to instead embrace these proven reforms.
“Gascón’s policies on kids in the justice system, sentencing enhancements, the death penalty, misdemeanors, bail and more, are all rooted in data showing that these policies not only preserve limited resources, but also reduce rates of reoffense and victimization. That is how you build stronger, healthier communities.”
Stop obstructing criminal justice reforms. It’s making us all less safe.
OCT. 25, 2021 – Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s decision to eliminate most sentencing enhancements has been met with fierce backlash from proponents of “tough-on-crime” policies who continue to sell the public a false promise that more punishment means more safety. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, former LA County District Attorneys Gil Garcetti and Ira Reiner and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss how DA Gascón’s policies – which are backed by the voters – will make communities safer, decrease burdens on taxpayers, and contribute to a fairer system for all.
“Evidence-based policies like the ones Gascón is implementing in Los Angeles hold people accountable without relying on extreme sentences, and they save taxpayer dollars that could be invested in things that actually have an impact on crime, such as public health, housing, education and violence prevention.”
Biden’s ‘Quiet Revolution’ Puts More Public Defenders on Federal Bench
OCT. 18, 2021 – Historically, prosecutors have been significantly overrepresented in the federal judiciary, but President Biden is making important inroads in diversifying the bench. In this Crime Report op-ed, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot and Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton – both former judges – join FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky to highlight why having more public defenders in the federal judiciary is essential to a fair and equitable criminal legal system.
“Just as it’s no longer a near-certainty that elected DAs will come from a crop of career prosecutors, it should no longer be the norm for prosecutors to dominate the judiciary.”
I resuscitated one of my sons after an overdose. Court, Biden must push prevention sites.
OCT. 7, 2021 – The overdose epidemic has raged during the pandemic, underscoring the failure of our nation’s drug policies and the need for urgent federal action. Both the Supreme Court and the Biden administration have an opportunity to save lives by supporting overdose prevention sites, where people can receive life-saving care and access treatment and resources. In this USA Today op-ed, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, and Dr. Bonnie Milas – who lost two sons to drug overdose – highlight why federal leadership is critical to implementing the proven harm reduction strategies that can address this crisis.
“Americans are struggling with drug addiction on an unimaginable scale. Far too many are dying unnecessarily…. While new public health approaches can’t bring back the many sons and daughters already lost, they can save other children and keep other parents from pain and loss.”
Texas’ voting restrictions are a threat to public safety
AUG. 31, 2021 – Efforts to suppress people’s fundamental right to vote threaten public safety by undermining trust in government and diverting limited resources to address a nonexistent problem. In an Austin American Statesman op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Texas District Attorney José Garza (Travis County) condemn the passage of legislation in Texas that unnecessarily restricts voting rights.
“[W]e’re saddened to see this erosion of voting rights based on misinformation, and in ways that damage civil rights, communities of color, and economic opportunity…. Laws that restrict and criminalize voting erode trust in government and waste limited law enforcement resources, thereby undermining public safety.”
Voters want progressive prosecutors. Biden must follow through on promise to guide reform.
AUG. 22, 2021 – Across the country, communities aren’t buying the “tough on crime” policies of the past and are instead doubling down on programs and leaders confronting the causes of crime and investing in preventing violence before it occurs. In this USA Today op-ed, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss why President Biden must create lasting change to our criminal legal system by building on this community-based movement and investing in prosecution reform through a Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Prosecution.
“Communities are rejecting fear-based narratives for evidence-based solutions and flocking to the polls with a hunger for systemic transformation. It’s time for the president and national leaders to heed this call and invest in prosecutorial innovation that can make the criminal legal system more fair and just for all communities and leave America safer.”
DAs have discretion. Use it to decline prosecution in cases that target trans community.
JULY 15, 2021 – In response to the record-breaking number of deeply disturbing anti-trans bills introduced around the country in 2021, Durham County, NC District Attorney Satana Deberry, Kauai County, HI Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky co-authored this USA Today op-ed discussing the obligation of law enforcement leaders and prosecutors to stand together in opposing these dangerous bills that put trans people at risk and undermine public safety.
“The trans community poses no threat to public safety but anti-trans laws do. And enforcing laws that demonize and dehumanize trans people would be a betrayal of the obligation of prosecutors to serve as ‘ministers of justice.’”
Mr. President, keep your promise on the death penalty
JUNE 30, 2021 – The criminal legal system is capable of punishing tragic crimes harshly and protecting communities without the use of the death penalty, which is rife with racial disparities and runs the risk of executing the innocent. In this op-ed in The Washington Post, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, VA Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky argue that President Biden must end the federal death penalty without exception, beginning with commuting all federal death row sentences.
“It is our duty to ensure that our limited criminal justice resources are used to keep people safe. The death penalty does not. There is no credible evidence that it deters murder. We must stop wasting taxpayer dollars on an ineffective punishment that does little more than compound racial and social injustice.”
Chauvin sentencing not enough. Police oversight must be put in the hands of the people.
JUNE 25, 2021 – Police accountability requires systemic change that goes far beyond the outcome of any individual conviction or sentence, and it should start with putting power in the hands of the people. In this USA Today op-ed, former Albany, NY Police Chief Brendan Cox and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss why empowered civilian oversight of law enforcement is a critical step towards real police accountability and rebuilding community trust.
“[F]or police accountability to become the expectation and not the exception, we must put it in the hands of the people.”
DAs Warn Anti-Fraud Voting Laws Threaten Public Safety
JUNE 17, 2021 – Despite record turnout in the 2020 election and no evidence of any widespread voter fraud, legislatures in nearly every state have recently introduced or passed bills to restrict voting. In this op-ed in The Crime Report, Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss how these ongoing efforts to suppress the fundamental right to vote – including laws that criminalize voting – are a threat to public safety.
“After a year that saw an outpouring of support in the streets and at the ballot box for changes in our criminal legal system, the last thing we need is more unnecessary punishments that entangle people in the justice system and divert limited law enforcement and prosecutorial resources to address problems that simply don’t exist.”
Youth Justice Needs Specialized Training of Judges, Lawyers, Court Employees, and Courtroom Language that Doesn’t Demean
JUNE 7, 2021 – The way that adults and institutions respond to young people can have a tremendous impact on their short and long-term development, but too often young people who become involved in the court system are perceived, labeled and treated in ways that hinder, rather than support, their growth and development. In this JJIE op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and NJDC Executive Director Mary Ann Scali discuss the importance of specialization and training within juvenile and family court systems, the need for use of language that avoids stigmatizing and is sensitive to the trauma of development of young people, and how professionals in these spaces can support youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.
“We want young people to succeed and thrive. For youth involved in the juvenile and family court systems, that begins by ensuring they are surrounded by legal professionals who are specialized and trained in the work they do and who can understand both developmentally appropriate adolescent behavior and adolescent responses to trauma they’ve endured.”
The Chauvin verdict is an important step forward but here’s why we must go further
MAY 4, 2021 – In the wake of the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky authored this MarketWatch op-ed acknowledging the efforts that led to Chauvin’s conviction, but also noting long overdue broader systemic changes needed to prevent police violence in the first place – including developing alternative ways of helping individuals experiencing mental health or substance-use-related crises, implementing community-based oversight organizations, and empowering prosecutors to investigate and prosecute instances of police misconduct.
“Punishment is not the same as justice or even accountability. Policing in the U.S. needs a systemic transformation.”
Get state, local law enforcement out of the immigration business
MAY 3, 2021 – Federal initiatives – including the 287g program – that entangle local law enforcement agencies in immigration activities undermine trust in the criminal legal system and make us all less safe. In this USA Today op-ed, Washtenaw County, MI Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit, Charlottesville, VA Chief of Police Dr. RaShall M. Brackney, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss why the Biden administration should exercise its executive action authority and immediately end these programs.
“Federal immigration agents must do their jobs, just as local prosecutors and law enforcement must do theirs. However, mixing the two is not only a recipe for disaster for immigrant communities, but also for everyone with a stake in public safety.”
Can the ‘Wisdom of a Second Look’ Curb America’s Appetite for Harsh Sentences?
APRIL 16, 2021 – Extreme prison sentences have become the norm despite evidence showing that they have not made our communities safer. In this op-ed in The Crime Report, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, FAMM President Kevin Ring, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss why policymakers must enact reforms that offer second chances and avenues for people serving lengthy sentences to be released when incarceration is no longer in the public’s best interest.
“There is no basis to conclude that the commission of a crime, regardless of its nature, should define a person forever…. People grow and change, and our criminal legal system cannot dispense justice without a means to address that undeniable truth.”
Police departments – not taxpayers – should pay the bill for misconduct settlements
MARCH 29, 2021 – In the wake of a historic $27 million settlement between the city of Minneapolis and the family of George Floyd, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky authored this MarketWatch op-ed explaining why police departments, not cash-strapped local governments, should shoulder the financial burden of law enforcement misconduct and how, more broadly, we can reform the system so these tragedies never occur in the first place.
“Civil settlements should not be the only recourse for victims of police wrongdoing. But when they are, we should ensure that those responsible for the systemic failures — or for standing in the way of reform — pay the price for the resulting tragedies.”
How the deadly Texas storm was a reminder of an inhumane US prison system
MARCH 19, 2021 – Fear of violence, lack of privacy, inadequate healthcare, and malnutrition are just a few of the defining features of American prisons that create a traumatic and deeply disturbing experience for those behind bars. In this USA Today op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discusses how prison conditions may contribute to higher recidivism rates and why prosecutors must play a key role in accepting responsibility for addressing inhumane conditions of confinement and bringing about change
“[D]espite piles of evidence showing that stress and trauma are major drivers of violence, we still respond by relying on prisons defined by constant stress and trauma. Then, when many of those previously incarcerated struggle when they get out and return to the system, we wonder why these approaches are not working.”
Why It’s Time to Abandon Drug Courts
MARCH 5, 2021 – For the last 30 years, the primary way in which the criminal justice system has attempted to connect people with substance use disorders to healthcare is via drug courts. However, research shows that people who use drugs need community-based harm reduction and treatment services, not the threat of criminal sanction. In this op-ed in The Crime Report, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Northeastern University Professor of Law and Health Sciences and Faculty Director of the Health in Justice Action Lab Leo Beletsky share why we must look beyond drug courts and bring new thinking to drug policy.
“If we want to move beyond the discredited War on Drugs and save lives, we must abandon the fixation on drug courts, invest in proven solutions, and let healthcare professionals ― not lawyers and judges ― guide treatment.”
It’s time for DA associations to stop standing in the way of reform
FEB. 23, 2021 – Prosecutor associations have been tethered to past “tough on crime” thinking and have acted as powerful obstructionists of justice reform efforts. In this Orange County Register op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy Associate Director Tyler Yeargain delineate concerns with these organizations and the importance of not allowing them to derail criminal justice reforms being advanced by reform-minded prosecutors around the nation.
“It’s time for prosecutors’ associations to respect the decision of voters and accept the evidence — failed punitive approaches are not the path to justice, and these groups must stop undermining voters’ desire for reform.”
Delays in Garland hearing, and in replacing U.S. attorneys, put justice reform in jeopardy
FEB. 2, 2021 – President Biden and Vice President Harris have spoken of the need for criminal justice reform, but for them to make meaningful change, it will take not just good policy but also the right personnel. In this USA Today op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and former head of the DOJ’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Founder of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy Shay Bilchik share why personnel is policy and emphasize that the administration needs to swiftly act to ensure key leadership positions at OJJDP, the COPS Office, and U.S. Attorneys offices are staffed with people who reflect the diversity of our community and are committed to reform.
“Starting fresh with a new slate of U.S. attorneys and DOJ leaders who share a new vision for justice would reflect the transformative moment we’re in…. Biden needs attorneys and DOJ leaders who embrace reform. It means looking at the burgeoning reform-minded state and local prosecutor movement for examples of leaders who are committed to systemic change.”
Stop the attempt to derail D.A. George Gascón’s criminal justice reforms
JAN. 28, 2021 – The Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop LA County DA George Gascón from implementing the exact policies the people elected him to carry out. In this Los Angeles Times op-ed, University of California at Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain why this is a clear infringement on prosecutorial discretion and a disregard for the will of the people, who elected DA Gascón to usher in a new vision of justice in their community.
“[S]tripping [Gascón] of control over officewide policymaking — as the lawsuit is trying to do — rejects the agenda the voters of Los Angeles County chose, erodes the discretion vested in the district attorney and sets a bad precedent for judicial control over the prosecutor’s office.”
Trump’s last days in office marred by disregard for human life. Death penalty just another example.
JAN. 11, 2021 – The Trump Administration repeatedly displayed an unconscionable disregard for human life, culminating in the incitement of an attack on the U.S. Capitol, thousands of COVID-19 deaths every day, and a rush of executions in the waning weeks of this presidency. With three more federal executions scheduled before the president leaves office, in this USA Today op-ed, former U.S. Attorney Donald Ayer, Georgia’s Western Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky urge the administration to rethink the sanctioning of further loss of life and, instead, embrace a starting point that a growing majority of Americans support.
“The death penalty represents the worst of us — revenge and cruelty — and does nothing to deter crime or make our communities safer.”
L.A. and S.F. have it right: No children should be prosecuted as adults
DEC. 27, 2020 – Every state in the U.S. still allows the prosecution of children as adults, despite evidence that it does not make communities any safer and actually leads to higher recidivism rates compared to youth-focused systems. As of 2018, more than 4,000 children were locked in adult prisons or jails on any given night. In this op-ed in the San Franscisco Chronicle, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Campaign for Youth Justice CEO Marcy Mistrett share why ending the practice of prosecuting children as adults is so critical and how elected prosecutors can be leading voices for change.
“As we face a challenging holiday season unlike any other, we must remember the children behind bars experiencing profound danger and hardship, particularly in the wake of the rapid spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons. It’s time for our leaders to do better and end the practice of prosecuting children as adults.”
How Joe Biden can root out racism in criminal justice
DEC. 25, 2020 – After an election that delivered Joe Biden a historic win and saw voters in red and blue states alike back criminal justice reforms, the president-elect has a mandate to implement systemic change. On day one, the new administration can immediately enact a number of policies that will significantly advance racial justice, especially in the areas of drug policy, juvenile justice, second chances, and police accountability. In this CNN op-ed, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky share how President-elect Biden can make full use of his authority to usher in a new vision of justice, starting on day one.
“[W]ith lives on the line and calls for change in 2021 mounting, there is no time to waste. Biden should not hesitate to strike quickly and often in the ongoing battle for racial justice.”
Why COVID-19 Makes Marijuana Enforcement a Waste of Resources
DEC. 23, 2020 – Despite gains in drug policy reform in the 2020 election, and even as 38 states and Washington, D.C. have now decriminalized marijuana or authorized its medical use, a marijuana arrest occurred every 58 seconds in 2019. In this op-ed in The Crime Report, Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor), Michigan Prosecuting Attorney-Elect Eli Savit, Law Enforcement Action Partnership Executive Executive Director Maj. Neill Franklin, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss why marijuana reform promotes public safety, is fiscally responsible, and is widely supported by the public. They urge action on federal reforms to decriminalize marijuana.
“As the ongoing health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic further expose the injustices of marijuana policy, there has never been a more important moment for reform.”
Biden can rebuild trust in our justice system by prioritizing prosecutorial reform
NOV. 26, 2020 – After four years of unprecedented criticism and attacks on reform prosecutors across the US, and with the public hungry for change to the criminal justice system, it’s critical that prosecutorial reform be prioritized by the White House. In this op-ed in The Hill, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky shares why transforming the field of local prosecution should be a central focus of the Biden Administration’s criminal justice platform.
“[T]he new administration’s ability to impact the criminal justice system will depend, in significant part, on its ability to support and work alongside local prosecutors.”
2020 vote saw pro-reform prosecutors win. Now they need to fix mistakes by their predecessors.
NOV. 20, 2020 – A recent study of 2,400 exonerations from 1989-2019 found that prosecutorial misconduct played a role in 30 percent of cases. Elected prosecutors have a responsibility to prevent misconduct in their offices as well as to proactively address past injustices by establishing Conviction Integrity Units that work with defense counsel and innocence organizations to review prior convictions. In this op-ed in NBC Think, Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the critical role prosecutors play in determining whether an innocent person ends up – or stays – behind bars.
“The job of a prosecutor is to pursue justice, not to win at all costs. One innocent person behind bars is too many. Prosecutors must do better, learn from the mistakes that have already been made and ensure that future lives are not lost to systemic failures.”
Don’t block formerly incarcerated people from supportive housing
NOV. 19, 2020 – Formerly incarcerated individuals are about 10 times more likely to be homeless. Yet, a new proposal in Texas would block anyone convicted of a range of criminal offenses from living in supportive housing. In this op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and American Conservative Union General Counsel David Safavian share why this would make Texans less safe and urge Texas Governor Greg Abbott to reject this proposal.
“Too often our nation has tried to counter crime simply by pushing the problem out of sight. We warehouse people who have committed crimes and then bar them from our workplaces, colleges and housing developments when they return to our communities. These short-sighted responses have not worked.”
Community supervision, once intended to help offenders, contributes more to mass incarceration
NOV. 19, 2020 – The unnecessarily onerous conditions put on the 4.4 million people on probation and parole in the U.S. too often lead to reincarceration for technical violations rather than new criminal offenses. In this op-ed in USA Today, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Columbia Justice Lab Co-Director and former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation Vincent Schiraldi share why reimagining our criminal legal system requires reforming probation and parole.
“We’ve created a system that too often sets people up for failure by requiring individuals who are trying to get back on their feet to be superhuman and error free.”
Philadelphia case could clear the way for safe injection sites
NOV. 16, 2020 – As both the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic rage on across the United States with devastating consequences, a federal appellate court is hearing arguments in a case to allow Safehouse, a Philadelphia nonprofit organization, to open the country’s first overdose prevention site. Harm reduction strategies are essential as COVID cases and overdoses continue to rise, and in this op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, Chittenden County (VT) State’s Attorney Sarah George, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky share why these sites are needed now more than ever.
“Far too many lives have already been lost. Philadelphia needs Safehouse today, just as San Francisco and other cities around the nation – and our entire country – need a new path forward toward ending the overdose epidemic.”
Barrett confirmation means Roe is at risk, and prosecutors need to step up
OCT. 26, 2020 – More than 20 states have already enacted restrictive abortion laws, many with harsh criminal penalties of up to 100 years in prison for performing, having, or assisting someone in obtaining an abortion. With a conservative supermajority now on the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade’s future increasingly uncertain, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky underscores the role prosecutors can play on the front lines of reproductive justice in this op-ed in USA Today.
“If Roe falls, prosecutors will be the last line of defense…With the future of Roe now less certain than ever, we urge more elected prosecutors to join their colleagues in taking a stand to protect everyone in our communities by disavowing efforts to criminalize personal health care choices. Failing to do so endangers us all.”
Failures of grand jury process evident in Breonna Taylor case
OCT. 16, 2020 – The Breonna Taylor case provides a stark illustration of the failings of the grand jury process in officer-involved shooting investigations. While grand juries return indictments in the vast majority of cases presented to them, in cases of alleged police misconduct indictments are rare. In this USA Today op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky shares ideas on grand jury reforms, as well as steps prosecutors can take to make grand juries more transparent and just.
“Elected prosecutors can lead the way now, whether by enhancing independent investigation of these cases, providing reports detailing decision making, releasing grand jury transcripts or moving away from grand juries entirely…”
Local prosecutors are now the last defense against voter suppression and Election Day chaos
OCT. 16, 2020 – As Election Day nears, self-appointed poll watchers are preparing to patrol polling precincts for signs of voter fraud, even though it is exceedingly rare. In this op-ed in MarketWatch, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explains why these voter intimidation tactics are particularly concerning and how local prosecutors can ensure that everyone in their communities has the right to safely exercise their fundamental right to vote.
“Local elected leaders are needed now more than ever to speak out on behalf of protecting fair and free elections — and on behalf of all in their community who seek to exercise one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy: The right to vote.”
Policymakers, Time To End Juvenile Life Sentencing
OCT. 12, 2020 – America is the only country in the world to condemn its children to die behind bars through juvenile life without parole (JLWOP) sentences, with an estimated 2,500 people still serving life sentences imposed for grievous mistakes they made as children. In this op-ed in Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, Loudoun County, VA Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, and Ingham County, MI Prosecutor Carol Sieman argue that it’s time to abolish juvenile life without parole – once and for all.
“At the end of the day, isn’t rehabilitation and safe reentry the goal, rather than throwing away human lives? By creating ‘juvenile lifers,’ we as a society are robbing children of their humanity, their future and their potential.”
A Smarter Approach To Measuring Prosecutorial Success
OCT. 4, 2020 – In a new Law360 op-ed, New York University School of Law Professor Anthony Thompson and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the need for new metrics of success for 21st Century Prosecutors and why traditional measures like conviction rates & sentence length are often at odds with the pursuit of justice. They further discuss new Prosecutorial Performance Indicators, a comprehensive set of 55 metrics that track progress toward prosecutorial fairness, just results, addressing racial disparities, and community well-being.
“For too long, prosecutor’s offices have been reluctant to use data to identify problems and improve their work. By using Prosecutorial Performance Indicators, prosecutors can begin to understand the impact of their decisions, measure their own success, and ensure that their work truly promotes a just system for all.”
Communities Need and Deserve a Reset of Policing and the Justice System. Trump has Created a Sham Process that Excludes Them.
SEPT. 29, 2020 – The President’s Commission on Law Enforcement has been shrouded in secrecy, but it’s clear that its goal is to advance dangerous and inaccurate narratives about public safety and failed policing practices. In this op-ed in The Appeal, Joe Brann, the founding director of the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the need for a new community-driven vision of policing to advance safety and equity. Read more here.
“The unrelenting videos exposing the brutality and devaluing of communities of color by law enforcement are likely to continue, as will the protests and growing chorus demanding a reimagining of our justice system. Those heartfelt pleas cannot be ignored. We must welcome and fully engage our community as co-producers of public safety – or prepare for a future that holds further divisiveness and suffering.”
Local prosecutors are the best people to defend their communities against corrupt cops
SEPT. 23, 2020 – Some recent proposals are suggesting that the power to prosecute police misconduct should be removed from the hands of local prosecutors and placed in the hands of “outside prosecutors” such as state prosecutors or attorneys general. In this op-ed in The Baltimore Sun, Roy L. Austin, Jr. and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain why these efforts will erode police accountability. Instead, they highlight key principles that enable local prosecutors – who know best the local landscape and how to effectively pursue these prosecutions – to oversee these vitally important and sensitive cases.
“[L]ocal prosecutors are best equipped to address abuses in their own communities – and we must be wary of proposals that would undermine, even threaten, the ability of communities to hold corrupt and criminal police officers accountable.”
Our president is threatening the right to vote, as well as public safety
SEPT. 6, 2020 – The current administration’s efforts to undermine the voting process – including interference with the Postal Service, unsubstantiated claims about the lack of integrity of voting by mail, and the threat of sending law enforcement officials to police the polls – could do irreparable harm to our democracy and further erode the trust of communities in government and the rule of law. In this new op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa County, CA District Attorney Diana Becton, Mecklenburg County, NC Sheriff Garry L. McFadden, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky share how these attacks on the right to vote threaten public safety across the country.
“Our democracy is on the line.”
Bad law and failed order
AUG. 26, 2020 – As the current administration and opponents of reform stoke fear about crime in America, the death rate from homicides in the U.S. is less than 10% of the deaths from the current pandemic, while the average yearly number of hate crimes has increased dramatically under this administration. Meanwhile, the administration has sought to curb the power of locally-elected, reform-minded prosecutors who understand that past “tough on crime” approaches don’t work. In this op-ed in The Hill, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Roy L. Austin, Jr. fact check these regressive talking points on crime.
“Despite the Trump Administration’s attempt to spread fear among suburban voters, we know that we can significantly reduce the footprint of law enforcement while also enhancing community safety and constitutional policing…Those fighting for dramatic changes to our criminal system recognize that, to truly enhance public safety, we must address underlying societal problems and fortify community trust.”
Want Prosecutorial Reform? Start With Curtailing the Influence of Police Unions.
AUG. 24, 2020 – Police accountability requires independent prosecutors able and willing to investigate police misconduct. In this op-ed in The Appeal, Loudoun County, VA Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj and FJP Executive Director Miriam Aroni Krinsky discuss the importance of ending real and perceived conflicts and financial ties between prosecutors and police unions as a critical first step towards restoring public trust in the justice system.
“Police unions are zealous opponents of any and all police accountability – so the time is now to protect our communities and ensure that these unions have no influence (and are perceived as having no influence) over prosecutors, whose core duty is to bring about equal accountability for all who break the law, including police officers.”
U.S. taxpayers already pay a high price to support America’s giant prison population. Now COVID-19 is costing them even more
AUG. 20, 2020 – In this op-ed in MarketWatch, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Right on Crime’s Marc Levin discuss the dire need to reduce the number of people in jails and prisons in the wake of COVID-19 from both a humanitarian and fiscal responsibility perspective. Over-incarceration doesn’t reduce crime, poses an enormous burden to taxpayers, and – in the context of the current public health crisis – poses a deadly threat to both those behind bars as well as in the community.
“Protecting the public and delivering justice must always remain a core government function, but now more than ever, this mission must be accomplished through smart policies that are fiscally responsible.”
Youth Prisons Are Ineffective and Should Have Closed Long Before the Coronavirus Hit
AUG. 13, 2020 – In this op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, Gladys Carrión, former commissioner of youth justice services for New York State and City and co-chair of Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss efforts in California to close state-operated youth prisons and instead provide community-based responses and services for young people. Locking children in prison is inhumane, unjust, and ultimately harms public safety. Children deserve support and second chances close to home – and the dramatic reduction in incarceration in response to COVID-19 shows how the end of youth prisons is in sight.
“In this moment, there is ample incentive to close these giant monuments to failure…Now is the time to heed the collective call from experts to chart a better pathway forward for our youth, as well as our communities.”
Is your DA a reformer or a business-as-usual prosecutor?
JULY 29, 2020 – As millions take to the streets demanding an overhaul of policing, prosecutors shouldn’t be left out of those calls for change. Read this op-ed in the New York Daily News by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell and FJP Executive Director Miriam Aroni Krinsky about the power DAs have to transform the justice system – and the need for communities to hold them accountable.
“With the stroke of a pen local elected prosecutors could radically shrink the footprint of the justice system today…. A new generation of prosecutors, elected by communities on a mandate of reform, have already started, with nearly 50 joining a statement calling for the transformation of policing. So as we collectively work toward lasting systemic change, where is your DA in this critical moment?”
How jury selection discriminates against Black citizens
JULY 24, 2020 – Juries that are truly reflective of the community are an essential element of an effective and equitable justice system and are integral to building public trust. This op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, FJP Executive Director Miriam Aroni Krinsky, and Director of the Reshaping Prosecution Program at the Vera Institute of Justice Jamila Hodge explores the need for prosecutors to abandon peremptory strikes to ensure that no one is prevented from serving on a jury due to race, and that individuals on trial are judged by a jury of their peers.
“Justice Thurgood Marshall cautioned that the landmark Batson case would not ‘end the illegitimate use of the peremptory challenge.’ History has proven him correct. It is up to prosecutors to change that trajectory and put an end to this practice.”
Prisons Are Overwhelmed With COVID-19. Why Aren’t Governors Doing More?
JULY 17, 2020 – Read more about the urgent need for governors to decarcerate prisons in this op-ed in The Appeal by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky. Over half of our nation’s COVID-19 deaths and infections among people incarcerated and working in local, state and federal correctional and detention facilities in the United States are in state prisons, and these facilities are hot spots for the pandemic. This op-ed underscores the universal failure of governors to address this crisis, and the need for immediate action to avoid further illness and death.
“How governors respond to this pandemic will define their legacy. They all face a choice: save lives in prisons now, or hand down potential death sentences with their inaction and watch harm ripple through communities and exacerbate inequities into future generations.”
As Pandemic Continues, Safe Injection Sites Could Save More Lives
JULY 8, 2020 – In this op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the urgent need for the lifesaving services provided by overdose prevention sites (OPS) in the wake of multiple public health crises that our nation is now facing. An OPS like Safehouse in Philadelphia is a proven harm reduction strategy that saves lives, promotes trust in the justice system, and reduces the adverse impact of substance use disorder.
“America is facing three deadly epidemics: the opioid overdose crisis, COVID-19, and the systemic assault on Black lives. And as we collectively seek to envision a more humane and equitable response to substance use, overdose prevention sites are an important place to start.”
Tragedy of COVID-19 in Prisons Shows Need for Decarceration
JULY 1, 2020 – The rapid spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons is a racial justice issue. In this San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, 16th Circuit Court of Mississippi (Columbus) District Attorney Scott Colom and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the importance of continued decarceration in order to protect Black lives both behind bars, as well as the entire community. As the explosion of infections within San Quentin Prison demonstrates, the cost of inaction is catastrophic.
“As countless Americans take to the streets in defense of Black lives and call for the transformation of policing, we must not neglect the threat that COVID-19 continues to present and the urgent need for immediate decarceration.”
Criminal Justice Reform is on the Ballot Across America
MARCH 25, 2020 – In recent years, a growing number of reform-minded prosecutors have been elected to lead long overdue change in the justice system. In just a few short years, they have had a significant impact by deferring and deflecting cases that needn’t be in the justice system, moving away from past “tough on crime” approaches, and creating a new vision for what justice looks like in the 21st Century. In a Los Angeles Daily News op-ed, Director of the Prosecutors and Politics Project Carissa Byrne Hessick and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss a new report that underscores the immense impact a relatively small number of prosecutors can have on reform and why voters must not ignore these critical down ballot races.
“More than a quarter of the US population lives within just 35 prosecutor districts, and more than half the population lives in just 147 districts. We do not know how the 2020 prosecutor elections will play out in November… [b]ut races lower down the ballot will be the ones to chart the future of criminal justice policy for millions of Americans.”
COVID-19’s Threat to Millions of Incarcerated People Must Be Addressed
MARCH 21, 2020 – As our nation grapples with the global pandemic of COVID-19, it is imperative that we not forget the 2.3 million adults and children detained by local, state and federal authorities in America’s prisons, jails and immigration detention centers. In this Salon op-ed, Portsmouth, VA Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss why these populations are so vulnerable during this public health crisis and the commonsense reforms that can be implemented – and should be championed by elected prosecutors – to ensure the health and safety of the entire community.
“It is in times such as these that our moral compass is tested; let us hope – for the health and safety of our entire community – that we pass that test.”
“Fear of Reprisals Threatens Independence of Public Defenders and Erodes Right to Counsel”
MARCH 4, 2020 – A defendant’s right to competent and independent counsel is a fundamental part of the fabric of our nation’s justice system. It is integral to our adversarial system and ensures that individuals facing loss of liberty are on an even playing field. This constitutional right was put in jeopardy, however, when the County Board of Commissioners in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania fired the two leaders of the Montgomery County Public Defender Office shortly after they filed an amicus brief recounting injustice in the county’s bail practices. In this Legal Intelligencer op-ed , National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Executive Director Norman L. Reimer and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss this deeply troubling event and why we must protect the independence of public defenders.
“The integrity of our criminal legal system depends upon the willingness of defenders who work within it to be advocates in every sense – for individual clients and also for a system that is systematically fair and just.”
“On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, remember: America’s justice system still enforces racial oppression”
JAN. 19, 2020 – Reckoning with America’s history of white supremacy and acknowledging the unbroken thread between slavery, racially-motivated terrorism and mass incarceration is at the foundation of building a just and equitable future. In this Salon op-ed, Marshan Allen, board member of the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky describe the moving journey to Alabama with dozens of DAs and leaders from the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network. From the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice to other civil rights sites in Montgomery and Selma, the lessons learned will be invaluable as a new generation of DAs seek to transform the justice system.
“A deep and honest look at who we have been and still are as a country is required to emerge as the country we want to be.”
Recent Baltimore exonerations shed light on the need for reforming youth interrogation practices
NOV. 27, 2019 – A staggering 86% of convictions of individuals later exonerated for crimes that occurred before they turned 14 are based on false confessions, often obtained through coercive interrogation tactics. In this Washington Post op-ed, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss why such tactics must end and why reforms are needed in the questioning of young people to protect the integrity of the justice system.
“Prosecutors have a duty to administer justice with integrity. When a tragic injustice occurs, we must work to ensure those mistakes never happen again.”
“A prosecutors’ leadership retreat in Berlin offers a stark reminder to remain vigilant”
NOV. 1, 2019 – Courageous leadership requires disrupting norms and taking a stand. As fear-based narratives and efforts to marginalize some of the most vulnerable in our community are mounting, we need a new generation of leaders who are unwilling to remain silent in the face of erosion of rights and liberties. Some elected prosecutors are stepping up to this challenge. In this ABA Journal op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky shares the personal journey that sparked her commitment to prosecutorial reform and weighs in on how elected prosecutors can take bold action to protect our system of justice and the rights of all.
“Assaults on truth and fairness can only succeed if leaders, and all of us, are enablers.”
“Millions of Children Lose Their Parents To Incarceration. That Doesn’t Have To Happen.”
OCT. 24, 2019 – One out of every 28 children has a parent who is currently incarcerated and one in four black children will have their father incarcerated by the time they turn 14. That’s millions ofchildren not only experiencing the pain and stigma of having a parent behind bars, but also the myriad adverse consequences that come along with it. In an op-ed in The Appeal, We Got Us Now Founder and CEO Ebony Underwood and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the role prosecutors can play in revisiting past excessive sentences, recommending noncustodial and community-based sentences for parents whenever possible, and advancing policies that keep families connected when loved ones are behind bars.
“Every time we incarcerate someone, new victims are created who are rarely acknowledged: the children, families and loved ones of those incarcerated.”
“It’s Time For Drug Policy Reform – In America and Across the Globe”
OCT. 19, 2019 – While the US has been fighting a failed war on drugs, much of the rest of the world has chosen a different path – one grounded in public health responses over criminalization. In this Salon op-ed, Louise Arbour, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy; former Premier of Western Australia and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Geoff Gallop; and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss how United States drug policy has failed, and why prosecutors and other elected leaders must embrace harm reduction strategies that have a proven track record of success in other parts of the world.
“Criminalizing people who use drugs doesn’t just fail to make people safer and healthier, it makes them sicker and more likely to overdose in the shadows.”
“DACA makes our jobs easier and communities safer”
OCT. 17, 2019 – DACA helps police and prosecutors keep communities safe. In an op-ed in The Hill, Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss how DACA fortifies trust between law enforcement and communities and why they joined 80 law enforcement and criminal justice leaders in an amicus brief before the Supreme Court defending the program.
“Put simply: DACA makes our jobs easier and, in turn, our communities safer.”
Reexamining Whom We Put to Death in the Name of Justice
OCT. 7, 2019 – There is a growing consensus that the death penalty is ineffective, so why does the US still cling to it when so much of the rest of the world has left it behind? In this Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed District Attorney-Elect Jody Owens (Hinds County, MS) and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky address this question and discuss the connection between the death penalty and the lynchings of the Jim Crow South, the deeply troubling racial disparities that persist in application of the death penalty today, and why the 29 states that still employ this sanction should align with other states and countries that have ended this practice.
“The United States is the only Western democracy to still embrace capital punishment. With the seventh highest rate of execution, we are aligned with countries known for abysmal human rights records, while much of Europe lost its appetite for state-sanctioned death after the horrors of World War II.”
Orange County’s Informant Scandal Reveals Deep Concerns with Use of Jailhouse Informants
SEPT. 9, 2019 – Elected prosecutors have an obligation to protect the integrity of the criminal justice process. The jailhouse informant scandal in Orange County, California – where authorities paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to jailhouse informants who coerced confessions from witnesses with threats of violence and intimidation – is illustrative of the deep concerns with these practices. In this USA Today op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department Ronal Serpas discuss the dangers of jailhouse informant programs and the need for prosecutors to focus on fairness and the integrity of the justice system – rather than simply “winning” convictions – to protect and promote public trust.
AG Barr is wrong: Criminal justice reform is making us safer
AUG. 27, 2019 – As criminal justice leaders increasingly are rejecting past failed“tough on crime” policies, they are embracing new approaches backed by research and grounded in compassion and common sense. Yet, these leaders face opposition from some who would have us return to a bygone era of harsh punishments that has made the US an international outlier and the world leader of incarceration. In this Morning Consult op-ed, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, former San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky refute the unfounded attacks Attorney General William Barr has leveled against reform-minded prosecutors, and recount how a new generation of prosecutors are joining the fight to build safer, stronger and healthier communities.
“We are zealous defenders of public safety. And we understand that public safety means safety for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, their family’s income, or their country of origin.”
It’s Time for the US to Embrace Overdose Prevention Sites
AUG. 23, 2019 – Prosecutors and other law enforcement leaders are increasingly moving away from punitive and incarceration-based responses to drug use and instead embracing public health solutions that meet people where they are and save lives. In this Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed, former Albany, NY Police Chief Brendan Cox, Minister Adarrel Omar Fisher and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss landmark litigation – being watched by jurisdictions cross the nation – that will determine whether the Philadelphia nonprofit Safehouse will be allowed to move forward with plans to operate our country’s first overdose prevention site. They recount experiences in other countries that exemplify harm reduction approaches and why we must embrace strategies that save lives.
“It’s time to choose a different pathway – one rooted in proven strategies that recognize people’s humanity and the urgency of this issue.”
Prosecutors Agree: Black Communities Need an Equal Voice in the Jury Box
OCT. 7, 2019 – Juries that represent the community are critical to ensuring due process and a fair trial. Yet, racial discrimination in jury selection persists – and racially disparate juries too often translate into racially disparate incarceration and death sentences. In this Raleigh News & Observer op-ed, Durham County, NC District Attorney Satana Deberry and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the importance of diverse and inclusive juries and why the North Carolina Supreme Court should act to align with Supreme Court authority and create protections that prevent discrimination in jury selection.
“Elected prosecutors must commit to ending race discrimination in jury selection….This is not just a matter of justice. It is a matter of public safety.”
“Germany’s Better Path on Emerging-adults”
Shifting the focus of the justice system from harsh punishment to prevention and rehabilitation makes communities safer, and no population is more critical to this effort than our young people. In this Boston Globe op-ed, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and FJP Executive director Miriam Krinsky discuss the lessons Germany offers about how to rethink our approach to young adult justice and the importance of models and strategies grounded in compassion and equity.
“Nationwide, we have a system where justice is not the same if you are poor or black or brown.”
“We Are Prosecutors. We Will Use Our Discretion on New Antiabortion Laws.”
Trust in the criminal justice system is critical. Laws that infringe on fundamental rights erode that trust and endanger the pursuit of justice as well as public safety. When that happens, we need bold leaders to use their voices and power to protect the rights and safety of all members of our communities. In this Washington Post op-ed, District Attorney Satana Deberry (Durham County, NC) and Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales (Portsmouth, VA) join FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky in discussing how recent laws that criminalize abortion harm communities, and why prosecutors should use their discretion to refuse to prosecute these personal healthcare decisions. Over 40 DAs from across the country joined together in a statement rejecting the criminalization of abortion decisions. Read the full statement and learn more here.”
“There are many ways prosecutors can use the rule of law to make communities safer and healthier – but trampling upon decades-old legal precedent to put women and doctors in jail for seeking or performing a legal medical procedure is simply not one of them.”
“Review of Past Excessive Sentences Will Be Needed To Address Mass Incarceration. DAs Can Lead the Way.“
Ending mass incarceration will require taking bold action and revisiting past excessive sentences. In this San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, elected prosecutors Eric Gonzalez (Kings County, NY) and Dan Satterberg (King County, WA) and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky weigh in on San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón’s newly proposed Sentence Review Unit and the importance of a “second look” process where prosecutors comprehensively review, identify and seek adjustments in past excessive sentences. Reforms like these are essential to creating a fair and equitable system that provides relief to those serving overly harsh sentences who can be safely returned to our communities.
“It’s time to correct decades of increasingly harsh sentences and take to heart that justice is done not by keeping people in prison just because we can, but by letting them out when their individual circumstances indicate it’s the right thing to do.”
“If Lawmakers Don’t Give Former Inmates a Second Chance, They Will Be Defying the Will of Floridians”
Safe communities require a commitment to second chances where access to resources and rights like education, employment, housing and voting are not restricted because of a prior conviction. In this Miami Herald op-ed, State Attorneys Kathy Fernandez Rundle (Miami-Dade County, FL) and Andrew Warren (Hillsborough County, FL) along with FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky weigh in on why voting rights restoration is key to successful reentry and meaningful second chances and how Florida’s Amendment 4 is critical to expanding opportunity for the 1.4 million Floridians with past convictions.
“If we want to create and sustain communities that thrive, we need a criminal justice system that not only encourages people who have broken the law to make amends, but also ensures they have an opportunity to lead productive lives with dignity when they reenter their community.”
“Wrongful Convictions Are Disturbingly Common, and Prosecutors Have Duty To Fix Injustice”
In this USA Today op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky shares how shockingly common wrongful convictions are and why we need a mechanism to address claims of innocence and remedy cases where the integrity of the process has been compromised. Additionally, she recounts the human toll of wrongful convictions, lessons learned from these cases, and the vital importance of conviction review units as a vehicle for change.
“Wrongful convictions happen, and prosecutors have an affirmative duty to pursue justice when they do.”
“In Maryland, Justice Should Work Backward and Forward”
A growing national movement of prosecutors recognize that their duty to pursue justice demands consideration of both future and past decisions. In a Washington Post op-ed, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the urgency and necessity of mechanisms that enable prosecutors to correct past injustices, spotlighting the recent example of hundreds of convictions in Maryland tainted by deeply troubling police misconduct.
“As ‘ministers of justice’ with powerful discretion to pursue whatever path would lead to just results, prosecutors have a clarion call to remedy past wrongdoing.”
“Science—and the Law—Says Don’t Try Juveniles as Adults”
Recognition of youth development and young people’s tremendous capacity for change is a simple starting point that has failed to be consistently applied for children whose lives are touched by the criminal justice system. Harsh punitive practices deny far too many children the opportunity for rehabilitation and in the long run undermine public safety. In a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, former East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis and former Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Gurwitz weigh in on California’s important juvenile justice reforms that prevent youth below the age of 16 from being prosecuted in the adult justice system.
“Treat kids like kids. It’s not only good common sense, but good public policy.”
“Baltimore Prosecutor Makes ‘Bold and Groundbreaking’ Decision Regarding Marijuana Arrests”
Criminalizing marijuana use promotes racial disparities, erodes trust in the justice system and diverts resources that could be better spent addressing and solving serious crime. In a Baltimore Sun op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and former Police Chief Brendan Cox applaud Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s efforts to repair the damage done by decades of the “war on drugs” and discuss her groundbreaking decision to no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases, divert all first-time felony distribution cases and vacate nearly 5,000 past convictions.
“These reforms are the essence of smart justice.”
“Prosecutor Power #7: Strength in Numbers”
Tune in to New Thinking, a podcast from the Center for Court Innovation, to hear FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and CCI’s Matthew Watkins discuss the recent wave of elected prosecutors who are creating a new normal in prosecution. This latest episode is part of an ongoing series exploring the power of prosecutors and the ability of reform-minded DAs to transform the justice system. Hear more about the current state of prosecutorial reform, how local elected prosecutors are enhancing accountability and redefining what justice looks like, and innovative practices by prosecutors committed to building healthy and safe communities.
“[Newly elected DAs] have the wind of reform at their back. They were elected by communities that want to see things done differently.”
– MIRIAM KRINSKY, FJP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
“Let Prosecutors Protect the Integrity of the Justice System”
When police officers have a history of serious credibility issues, it is the responsibility of the prosecutor to know who they are and to take steps to ensure they are not relied upon as witnesses. In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, and Co-Chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration Ronal Serpas outline the importance of Brady lists — a nationally recognized best practice used by prosecutors to systematically track such officers and thereby ensure the integrity of the criminal justice system and promote community trust.
“Prosecutors have a duty to seek justice and advance the truth – and that includes not putting witnesses who lack credibility on the stand.”
“Eliminate Court Fines and Fees That Penalize Poverty”
For many individuals, fines and fees are a weighty burden that can lead to perpetual cycles of debt and incarceration. In a USA Today op-ed, Fines and Fees Justice Center Co-Director Lisa Foster and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky recount the escalating number and amount of fines and fees in state justice systems over recent years and the perverse incentives that result when jurisdictions use this tax on justice to raise revenue. They encourage elected prosecutors to be advocates for reform and delineate concrete steps DAs can take – including supporting alternative mechanisms to fund courts, advocating for assessing fines and fees on a sliding scale, and eliminating fines and fees for young people.
“There’s a Wave of New Prosecutors. And They Mean Justice.”
In a New York Times op-ed, New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the growing wave of reform-minded elected prosecutors, as well as 21 Principles for the 21st Century Prosecutor – a new blueprint for DAs committed to advancing a bold new criminal justice vision predicated on the dual pillars of improving fairness and reducing incarceration. The 21 Principles set forth concrete steps DAs can take to transform their offices, and collectively their profession, by using their clout to reduce over-incarceration; avoid criminalizing poverty, substance use disorder and mental illness; and promote a fair, equitable and accountable justice system.
“Fairness and safety aren’t a tradeoff. They complement each other. This new corps of prosecutors can lead the way toward doing more justice with more mercy.”
“Don’t Jail Addicts. Overdose Prevention Sites Work, and the US Needs to Get on Board.”
In a USA Today op-ed, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky advocate for public health approaches to address our nation’s overdose epidemic. They encourage implementation of harm reduction strategies — including overdose prevention sites — which offer cost-effective, humane and tested models of treatment that not only saves lives, but also connect people to professionals and services that can help them treat substance use disorder.
“We have spent far too much time viewing drug users as unworthy of our care. Politicians need to set prejudice and fear aside and commit to saving lives. Stagnation is no longer acceptable.”
“Guilty Verdict in Van Dyke Case Reinforces Need For Transparent Policing”
A USA Today op-ed by FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky highlights reforms aimed at increasing transparency in, and improving accountability of, police departments. As evidenced by the guilty verdict in the case of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, these reforms are a critical part of rebuilding public trust and confidence in police and the broader justice system.
“Transparency serves everyone: The citizens who need and deserve to trust their local police, prosecutors who are seeking justice for their communities, and police officers who cannot do their jobs without having the faith of those they serve.”
“California Killed Cash Bail. Now It’s Up To judges To Determine a Fair Replacement.”
In a Sacramento Bee op-ed about California’s recent elimination of cash bail, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge LaDoris H. Cordell discuss uncertainties in the law and urge judicial leaders charged with implementation to develop safeguards that will guard against replicating the harms of cash bail.
“To avoid replacing one unjust [bail] system with another, the California judiciary must dedicate itself to presiding over a system that is fair and equal, and that dramatically reduces the population in county jails.”
“Serving Justice Includes Taking a Second Look at Past Convictions”
In this Kansas City Star op-ed, former Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky outline the importance of establishing mechanisms for prosecutors to review and correct past injustices. They applaud Wyandotte County (Kansas City, KS) DA Mark Dupree’s efforts to establish a Conviction Integrity Unit, noting that this is a best practice operating in more than 30 jurisdictions nationwide.
“The prosecutor’s core responsibility is to ensure that justice is served in every case.”
“Why Are We Sentencing Juveniles To Die In Prison? The Supreme Court Dropped the Ball.”
In this op-ed in USA Today, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University Shay Bilchik and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the need for prosecutors to embrace the latest research on children and young adults who come into contact with the justice system and implement fair, evidence-based, and compassionate policies that give young people a second chance.
“The evidence is clear: Children and young adults are different, the justice system must do better,and prosecutors can lead the way.”
“San Joaquin Shows the Way to End Sheriff-Coroner System”
In a Sacramento Bee op-ed, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and FJP’s Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain why it’s time for counties in California and other states to avoid conflicts of interest in all-important cause of death determinations and replace the sheriff-coroner model with independent medical examiners.
“Our criminal justice agencies owe the families of victims in unnatural deaths a timely, professional, and independent investigation. And they owe the public a credible assessment of whether a crime has been committed.”
“How a New Generation of Prosecutors is Driving Criminal Justice Reform Outside of Congress”
In this op-ed in The Hill, newly-elected Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky describe how prosecutors are making great strides in supporting safe, fair, and healthy communities across the country.
“Jailed for Being Too Poor”
From limiting diversion fees to offering meaningful alternatives to counterproductive fines, prosecutors can play an important role in ensuring the criminal justice system promotes public safety and accountability — and doesn’t criminalize poverty or punish the poor — writes FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky in a Huffington Post Op-Ed.
“Wealth should not determine who gets a second chance.”
“Winning for Justice”
In a USA Today op-ed, four-time WNBA champion Maya Moore, Kansas City (Kansas) DA Mark Dupree, and Fair and Just Prosecution’s Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the need for prosecutors to evaluate “success” in the justice system with measures that quantify and value the legitimacy and fairness of our system of justice.
“Success for prosecutors can no longer be defined by the number of cases charged, the length of sentence imposed, or the number of convictions obtained. It should be defined by whether we are standing up for the most vulnerable in our community … [a]nd it should be defined by whether we are promoting a justice system that deals with all individuals with fairness and compassion.”
“Promoting Integrity In Conviction Integrity Review“
In Huffington Post op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discusses the history of conviction integrity and review units and the importance of implementing best practices in prosecutors’ offices aimed at scrutinizing and promoting the integrity of all aspects of prosecutive decision making, from charging, to plea bargaining, to case handling.
“With Money Bail, System Continues to Criminalize Poverty”
In USA Today op-ed Winnebago County (Oshkosh, WI) District Attorney Christian Gossett and Fair and Just Prosecution Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss concerns with the current money bail system and urge prosecutors to “do what they can to ensure the criminal justice system does not perpetuate the modern-day debtors’ prison.”
“As DOJ Rolls Back Monitoring of Police Conduct, More Prosecutors Should Step Up Their Efforts“
USA Today op-ed in which Christy Lopez, former Deputy Chief of U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and Fair and Just Prosecution Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss the key role of prosecutors in curbing police misconduct and upholding community trust.
“We need to take the long view and recognize that prosecutors who step up to stop police misconduct are furthering what should be America’s shared goal of advancing trust and confidence not only in our police departments, but in our entire system of criminal justice.”
“Prosecutive Winds Of Change”
King County (Seattle, WA) Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and Fair and Just Prosecution Executive Director Miriam Krinsky underscore the important role of prosecutors in promoting a sensible and fair justice system and describe how newly elected local prosecutors are pushing the criminal justice system away from “tough on crime” attitudes and toward new prevention-oriented thinking. Read more here.
“The Constitutional Crisis in Florida We’re All Missing”
Washington Post op-ed in which Denver (CO) District Attorney Beth McCann, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, and Fair and Just Prosecution Executive Director Miriam Krinsky underscore the importance and implications of prosecutorial discretion and independence.
“Our Work to Reform the Juvenile Justice System Is Not Yet Complete”
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, Fair and Just Prosecution Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Campaign for Youth Justice Chief Executive Officer Marcy Mistrett recount recent reductions in juvenile crime and incarceration rates driven by the implementation of smart-on-crime strategies and also identify the many areas where changes are still needed. Read more here.
“Trust Between Law Enforcement and Communities is Key to Public Safety”
Georgetown Law Professor Joshua Geltzer and Fair and Just Prosecution Executive Director Miriam Krinsky write in The Hill about local law enforcement policies that seek to avoid entanglement in immigration enforcement issues and that recognize the importance of longstanding principles of community policing and trust-building practices as a fundamental predicate for advancing public safety.
Prosecutors Committed to Innovation
“Lock ‘Em Up? Prosecutors Who Say ‘Not So Fast’ Face a Backlash”
New York Times discusses prosecutors around the country implementing new thinking and reform, including Aramis Ayala, Beth McCann, Kim Ogg, and Kim Foxx.
“5 Prosecutors with a Fresh Approach”
Profile of five reform-minded prosecutors including Andrew Warren, Scott Colom, Kim Foxx, and Aramis Ayala. Read more here.
“A Wiser Generation of Prosecutors”
NY Times editorial notes some of the newly elected prosecutors — including Denver (CO) District Attorney Beth McCann, and Cook County (Chicago, IL) State’s Attorney Kim Foxx — who are revisiting the role of the prosecutor and embracing new thinking and practices.
“What Kind of District Attorney Will Eric Gonzalez Be?”
A review of the background and new thinking of Brooklyn (NY) District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, as well as the broader national backdrop and changed vision of the role of the prosecutor embraced by elected leaders working with FJP. Read more here.