ABA report outlines the state of criminal justice

A new report from the American Bar Association Section of Criminal Justice pulls together data and opinions from experts around the country to reveal trends in the system and previews new directions for the upcoming year. How have policy decisions resulted in new disputes, such as 2010’s Fair Sentencing Act, which aims to narrow the disparity between penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses? Will the government continue to aggressively prosecute white-collar criminals? How has the recession affected crime and corrections infrastructure?

“The State of Criminal Justice 2012” addresses these topics and more, including Securities and Exchange Commission whistleblower bounty rules; innocence developments; ethics in criminal advocacy; women in criminal justice; juvenile justice, international law; and capital punishment.

The report emphasizes the need to be “smart on crime” and identifies five critical areas for criminal-justice reform that can enhance public safety, reduce recidivism and save taxpayer money: decriminalization of minor offenses; pretrial release of accused low-risk offenders; community-corrections programs; expanded reliance on probation and parole; and re-entry support programs for prisoners.

Additionally, the report includes an extensive analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court’s criminal-law decisions during its 2010-11 term as well as a review of recent legislation on criminal law and procedure. This volume also includes 20 policies adopted by the ABA House of Delegates, which provides a window into many of today’s most pressing criminal-justice issues.

The report marks the return of an annual review of the criminal-justice system compiled by the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section. The views expressed in the report represent the opinions of the authors and editors. They have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors and do not represent association policy.

Contact Rabiah Burks at 202-662-1002 or Rabiah.Burks@Americanbar.org for a copy of “The State of Criminal Justice.”