To End Solitary Confinement, Advocates Turn Up the Pressure on Sheriffs
Sheriffs who run county jails bear responsibility for placing people in torturous isolation.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg June 30, 2021
How Sheriffs Are Extracting Wealth from People in Jail
Through fees and forced labor, sheriffs typically exacerbate the financial costs of incarceration, but they could also mitigate them.
Katie Jane Fernelius June 30, 2021
How the Manhattan DA Election May Rock the City’s Criminal Justice Status-Quo
Thirteen policy questions reveal the rifts in tomorrow’s Democratic primary, and the space for criminal justice reforms.
The Political Report June 21, 2021
On NYPD Oversight, Manhattan’s D.A. Candidates Are Split
Candidates running in Tuesday’s election vow to sideline untrustworthy officers and purge past convictions. The outgoing DA has drawn fire for his handling of police misconduct.
Sam Mellins June 17, 2021
How Alvin Bragg Rejects Bill Bratton and Broken Windows Policing
The Manhattan DA candidate makes his case that more incarceration does not bolster public safety, one week from the Democratic primary.
Daniel Nichanian June 16, 2021
Syracuse School Board Elections Heat Up Over Police Debate
Student activists pushing for police-free schools in Syracuse, New York, are backing Twiggy Billue, a candidate in the June 22 primary who wants to follow school districts across the country that have cut ties with cops.
Rachel M. Cohen June 11, 2021
Norfolk Elects Prosecutor Who Says Crime Is a “Symptom of Structural Racism”
Virginia’s primaries on Tuesday saw Ramin Fatehi clinch the Democratic nomination for Commonwealth Attorney in Norfolk, the site of a major showdown over reform in 2019. He is unchallenged in November.
Daniel Nichanian June 10, 2021
Cuomo’s Nominee to New York’s Highest Court Alarms Criminal Justice Reformers
Progressives are warning that the governor’s appointment of the Nassau County district attorney would intensify the court’s pro-prosecution bent.
Kyle C. Barry June 7, 2021
Wins for Larry Krasner and New Allies Signal Reformers’ Growing Reach
Progressive gains in Philadelphia’s primaries for judge and DA showcase a movement intent on taking over broader swaths of the criminal legal system.
Daniel Nichanian May 20, 2021
Your Guide to Criminal Justice in Pennsylvania’s Elections Today
From a historic DA race to judge candidates against mass incarceration, these elections could reshape the criminal legal system.
Daniel Nichanian May 18, 2021
Pittsburgh Voters May Ban Solitary Confinement in Jail Today
A ballot initiative in Allegheny County would limit how long incarcerated people can be held in isolation. Allegations of abuse in the local jail led activists to push for the reform.
Ahmari Anthony May 18, 2021
The Battle for D.A. Is Testing Philadelphia’s Commitment to Reform
Larry Krasner ended an era of tough-on-crime policies in the DA’s office and sparked a nationwide movement. Now voters will decide whether to continue on this path.
Maura Ewing May 17, 2021
Philadelphia D.A. Candidates Debate ICE Cooperation Ahead of Election Day
DA Larry Krasner pursued reforms to protect immigrant defendants from ICE. Will they survive his re-election race?
Will Lennon May 17, 2021
A Pittsburgh Judge Wants to Use the Bench To Fight Evictions and Mass Incarceration
Mik Pappas, elected judge in 2017 with the support of the local DSA, is now running for higher office as part of a slate that wants to change the legal system in Allegheny County.
Joshua Vaughn May 13, 2021
Nevada Prosecutors Are Standing in the Way of Abolishing the Death Penalty
Time is running out for the state Senate to advance a bill repealing the death penalty. Two influential Democratic senators also work as prosecutors, and the state’s DA association is fighting the reform.
Daniel Nichanian May 7, 2021
Philly’s Judge Elections This Month Have the Power To Change the City
Activists are backing judge candidates in Philadelphia’s May 18 primary who want to reduce the use of cash bail, avoid long sentences, and bolster tenant protections.
Maura Ewing May 6, 2021
How Pittsburgh Activists Are Seizing a Rare Chance To Reshape Courts
Grassroots groups are backing a slate of judge candidates in the May 18 primary. If elected, they could curb bail, high sentences, and other drivers of mass incarceration.
Sam Mellins April 29, 2021
Some Manhattan D.A. Candidates Draw A Line Against Life in Prison Sentences
Thousands of New Yorkers are in prison for life. Now candidates who are running in Manhattan’s June primary say they will help more people receive parole and stop seeking decades-long sentences.
Sam Mellins April 28, 2021
San Antonio Election Will Test Police Union Power This Saturday
If Proposition B passes, police would no longer have the upper hand at the bargaining table. Advocates say union contracts have allowed police brutality to go unpunished.
James Russell April 26, 2021
In Nation’s Incarceration Capital, a New D.A. Is Freeing People From Prison
New Orleans DA Jason Williams is making changes to remedy excessive sentencing, obstacles to parole, and convictions made by nonunanimous juries.
Katie Jane Fernelius April 21, 2021
This Public Defender Has Fought the Manhattan D.A.’s Office. Now She Wants To Lead It.
Eliza Orlins, who is running in the June 22 primary, lays out how she would overhaul the "prosecutorial-industrial complex."
Daniel Nichanian April 19, 2021
Maryland Bans Sentencing Children to Life Without Parole
The bill gives hundreds of people an opportunity to petition for earlier release.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg April 13, 2021
Philadelphia D.A. Race Could Ramp Up the War on Drugs
Larry Krasner has been dropping drug possession charges at a growing pace. But his challenger in the May 18 primary wants to send these cases to drug court.
Maura Ewing April 12, 2021
Oregon’s Tough-on-Crime D.A. Association Faces a Reckoning
Three district attorneys are speaking out against Oregon’s "one-strike-you’re-out" law and breaking ranks with a prosecutors’ lobby that has long pushed for harsh policies.
Piper French April 9, 2021
She Lost Her Right to Vote Over A Felony. Now This Lawmaker Has Helped Enfranchise Thousands.
Tarra Simmons lays out why she championed a new law that restores voting rights to people on probation and parole once she joined Washington’s state legislature.
Daniel Nichanian April 8, 2021
This Anti-Violence Strategy May Be Coming to St. Louis, but Activists See Red Flags
Both mayoral candidates in tomorrow’s election favor an approach called focused deterrence. Some advocates caution it could reinforce punitive policing.
Meg O'Connor April 5, 2021
Cuomo Concedes on Two Big Wins for Criminal Justice Reform
The embattled New York governor, who advocates describe as a longtime impediment to reform, signed bills to legalize marijuana and considerably restrict solitary confinement in the state.
Veronica Riccobene April 1, 2021
This Election Could Transform Policing in Omaha
Racial justice protests rocked the city last year. Activists see next week’s mayoral race as a chance to take a new path.
Anoa Changa March 30, 2021
The Next Virginia Governor Could Wipe Out New Voting Rights Gains
People with felony convictions who aren’t in prison can now vote. State elections could bring further progress or a sharp retreat.
Daniel Nichanian March 26, 2021
Why ICE Cooperation Is Dangerous Even with Biden in the White House
More public officials are breaking ties with ICE, as immigrants’ rights advocates double down on their case that local governments should avoid immigration enforcement regardless of Biden's new policies.
Felipe De La Hoz March 25, 2021
Virginia Becomes the First Southern State to Abolish the Death Penalty
Abolition advocates are celebrating a milestone for racial justice.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg March 24, 2021
Utah’s Hard-Won Bail Reforms Are in Jeopardy
State lawmakers curbed cash bail last year, but now they’re backtracking. Governor Spencer Cox could keep the reforms intact.
Rachel M. Cohen March 19, 2021
Landmark Rulings Show ‘Untapped Potential’ of State Courts To Advance Civil Rights
An emboldened progressive majority on Washington State’s highest court struck down a law that criminalized drug possession and expanded restrictions on life without parole.
Daniel Nichanian March 17, 2021
‘Life Sentences Are Death Sentences.’ How This D.A. Candidate Wants to Decarcerate Manhattan
Dan Quart makes the case for addressing the "systemic breakdown" in New York’s prisons and jails with shorter sentences, ending cash bail, and other reforms.
Daniel Nichanian March 11, 2021
Philadelphia D.A. Race Tests Larry Krasner’s Sweeping Probation Reforms
The population of people under supervision dropped during Krasner’s first term, but his opponent in the May primary wants to roll back his changes.
Maura Ewing March 8, 2021
In Manhattan D.A. Race, Momentum Builds to Decriminalize Sex Work
Most candidates running in the June election for DA say they would not prosecute cases involving consensual sex work, a striking sign of local activists’ success.
Sam Mellins March 4, 2021
The Fight for People in Prison to Vote Reaches Congress
An amendment to end felony disenfranchisement failed in the House of Representatives. But the measure shows how far the fight has come in a short number of years.
Jerry Iannelli March 2, 2021
Policing and Public Safety at Odds in St. Louis Mayoral Race
Instead of expanding the "arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate model," advocates want the next mayor to address the root causes of violence.
Meg O'Connor February 26, 2021
Prosecutors Excluded Black Jurors in a Death Penalty Case. They’re Getting Away With It.
The Fifth Circuit’s decision against James Garfield Broadnax, a Black man on death row in Texas, is the latest example of the deference judges grant prosecutors to craft white juries.
Kyle C. Barry February 25, 2021
Illinois Delays End of Prison Gerrymandering By a Decade
A hard-fought reform will stop the state from distorting political power. But it won’t take effect for a long time.
Daniel Nichanian February 23, 2021
California Bill That Promotes Alternatives to Policing Is Back Despite Governor’s Veto
The CRISES Act would fund emergency response programs that are not handled by police. Governor Newsom blocked the bill last year, but now advocates are pushing for a redo.
Piper French February 17, 2021
Los Angeles D.A. George Gascón Leaves California’s Powerful D.A. Association
Gascón is battling a lawsuit, filed by his own line prosecutors and backed by the state DA association, against his criminal justice reforms.
Jerry Iannelli February 16, 2021
New Massachusetts Law Paves the Way for Police-Free Schools
Massachusetts ended a mandate requiring cops in schools. Now advocates want Maryland and Florida, the remaining states with such laws, to follow suit.
Rachel M. Cohen February 12, 2021
Manhattan D.A. Candidate Explains Why She’ll Stop Prosecuting Drug Offenses And Sex Work
Tahanie Aboushi discusses her newly expanded proposal of not prosecuting offenses that criminalize poverty, mental health issues, and substance use, and reducing incarceration for all cases.
Daniel Nichanian February 5, 2021
BLM Activist Shakes Up Sheriff Race in County Known for Deadly Jails
After 30 jail deaths in 16 years, the sheriff election in Erie County, New York, could force a reckoning.
Raina Lipsitz February 4, 2021
State Lawmakers Are Pushing New Bills To Reduce Reliance On Police
So far in 2021, lawmakers in several states have introduced at least 12 bills to shrink the footprint of policing.
Meg O'Connor February 2, 2021
Will Manhattan’s Next D.A. Break Ranks With Tough-on-Crime Colleagues?
New York’s association of state DAs has fought measures such as bail reform, but three candidates in Manhattan’s DA election say they would not join it.
Sam Mellins February 2, 2021
Let Civilians Run for Sheriff Again, New California Bill Proposes
The measure may pave the way for more sheriff candidates who want to challenge mass incarceration, but are currently banned from running.
Katie Jane Fernelius February 1, 2021
Seattle Cut Its Police Budget. Now the Public Will Decide How To Spend the Money.
The city will use participatory budgeting to allocate $30 million to programs that create "true public health and safety.”
Manjeet Kaur January 28, 2021
Oregon Bill Would Enable People to Vote from Prison
The reform would be a historic step for national efforts to end felony disenfranchisement. Prison is not about "the loss of citizenship," said one incarcerated advocate.
Kira Lerner January 25, 2021
In 2021, Don’t Sleep on Criminal Justice Elections
DA, sheriff, and mayoral elections will present new openings to upend mass incarceration, from Manhattan and Philadelphia down to Virginia.
Daniel Nichanian January 19, 2021
Ohio Will No Longer Sentence Kids to Life Without Parole
“We now have hope that our loved ones and family members will someday come home to us,” one advocate said of the new law.
Daniel Nichanian January 13, 2021
New D.A. Commits to Fixing Georgia’s ‘Backdoor to Incarceration’
The new DA of Athens wants to bring down Georgia’s sky-high probation rate. She also announced an end to marijuana prosecutions and the death penalty.
Katie Jane Fernelius January 11, 2021
New York Ends a Punishment That Traps People in Poverty
A new law will stop the suspension of driver’s licenses when New Yorkers fail to pay fines.
Jonathan Ben-Menachem January 5, 2021
Newly Elected Michigan Prosecutor Will Stop Seeking Cash Bail
As prosecutors nationwide tackle bail reform, advocates press for more steps to take money out of detention decisions.
Rachel M. Cohen January 4, 2021
How Public Defenders Rocked Las Vegas Judge Elections
Community organizing in Nevada’s Clark County helped judicial candidates "flip the bench" to challenge cash bail and mass incarceration.
Sam Mellins December 21, 2020
How States Transformed Criminal Justice in 2020, and How They Fell Short
This year of crises, revisited: Nearly 90 state-level bills and initiatives. 16 themes. 7 maps.
Daniel Nichanian December 18, 2020
The Election That Could Thwart New York City’s War On Drugs
The office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor is on the chopping block in Manhattan’s 2021 DA race.
Sam Mellins December 17, 2020
How Ohio’s Racial Justice Movement Won Big at the Ballot Box
Years of grassroots organizing helped overhaul the criminal legal systems in Cincinnati and Columbus this November. Activists are already looking ahead.
Anoa Changa December 15, 2020
How Immigrant Communities Beat Back ICE and Helped Flip Georgia
Now these organizers are tackling the January runoffs for the U.S. Senate.
Sonam Vashi December 10, 2020
Newly Elected Prosecutors Are Challenging the Death Penalty
Two more anti-death penalty DAs were elected last week, and the new Los Angeles DA confirmed he would review past sentences.
Daniel Nichanian December 9, 2020
As Trump Departs, Some Democrats May Seek Cover to Maintain Ties with ICE
Officials in a New Jersey county voted last week to renew a lucrative contract with ICE and continue detaining immigrants.
Daniel Nichanian December 4, 2020
A D.A. Runoff Will Decide New Orleans’ Criminal Justice Future
In the nation’s incarceration capital, activists push for a prosecutor who will make sweeping reforms.
Katie Jane Fernelius November 23, 2020
The Major Blindspot Undermining Sanctuary Cities and Helping ICE
Massive data networks help ICE target immigrants, even in so-called sanctuary cities. Will the Biden administration and local officials shut them down?
Will Lennon November 19, 2020
ICE Suffered Blows in the South in Last Week’s Elections
Voters in populous Georgia and South Carolina counties elected sheriffs who ran on ending contracts with ICE.
Daniel Nichanian November 12, 2020
Prosecutor and Sheriff Elections in 2021: A Masterlist and Calendar
New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, among other states, are electing many of their prosecutors and sheriffs in 2021. Here is a masterlist and calendar of what to expect.
Daniel Nichanian November 12, 2020
How Criminal Justice Reform Fared at the Ballot Box on Tuesday
Voters elected new sheriffs and DAs who’ve vowed to challenge mass incarceration and ICE, and they approved initiatives to curtail drug criminalization and expand voting rights.
Two New Orleans Public Defenders Elected Judge in a Push to “Flip the Bench”
Angel Harris and Nandi Campbell will become criminal court judges, bucking the norm of former prosecutors filling the role.
Katie Jane Fernelius November 4, 2020
Four States Just Legalized Marijuana
New wins for cannabis reform in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota.
Kaila Philo November 4, 2020
Californians Approve an Initiative to Expand Voting Rights
Proposition 17 will enable people who are currently on parole to vote. It’s the latest in a wave of nationwide reforms that have narrowed or ended felony disenfranchisement.
Oregon Becomes the First State to Decriminalize Drugs
Voters approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize low-level drug possession and fund treatment, and a separate initiative to legalize therapeutic psilocybin mushrooms.
Zachary A. Siegel November 3, 2020
Austin and Orlando Elect Prosecutors Who Vow to Fight Mass Incarceration
Wins by José Garza and Monique Worrell add to a series of victories for criminal justice reformers this year.
Daniel Nichanian November 3, 2020
This School Board Election Could Ramp Up Resegregation in North Carolina
Far-right candidates are fueling backlash to Black Lives Matter and running for the Wake County school board to fight racial equity policies.
Courtney Napier October 30, 2020
How an Education Crisis Is Spurring a Seismic Shift in Arizona Politics
With a major ballot initiative, public school advocates are pushing back on Republican efforts to defund and privatize education.
Jennifer C. Berkshire October 28, 2020
When Electricity Shutoffs in a Pandemic Become an Election Issue
Affordable utilities and climate policy are on the line in Georgia’s Public Service Commission elections. Nine other states are voting on similar agencies.
Timothy Pratt October 27, 2020
School Board Elections Are Confronting the School-to-Prison Pipeline
In Prince George’s County, Maryland, a push to remove armed police from schools could hinge on the outcome of local school board races.
Rachel M. Cohen October 23, 2020
Civil Rights Loom Large in North Carolina’s Supreme Court Elections
The race for chief justice, between a former public defender and a former prosecutor, will shape the court’s willingness to advance racial justice.
Kyle C. Barry October 22, 2020
California Could End Cash Bail. But is This Alternative Any Better?
Proposition 25 would replace the current system with an even more punitive one, some criminal justice reform groups say.
Lauren Lee White October 21, 2020
Your Guide to 30 Sheriff and Prosecutor Elections That Could Challenge Mass Incarceration
These are the key local elections where criminal justice reform is on the line next month, around the country.
Daniel Nichanian October 19, 2020
New Orleans Public Defenders Are Mobilizing to “Flip the Bench”
These candidates are highlighting the power of judges to challenge mass incarceration.
Katie Jane Fernelius October 16, 2020
Will Texas Democrats’ Gains Topple a Trumpian Sheriff?
Jail deaths and ICE cooperation have defined the first term of Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, who faces a tough challenge in next month’s election.
Teresa Mathew October 15, 2020
Four States Could Legalize Marijuana Next Month
Of the four, only Arizona’s initiative would directly tackle racial justice and invest in communities harmed by drug enforcement laws.
Kaila Philo October 13, 2020
Governor Newsom Adds Another Prosecutor to the California Supreme Court
The state has not had a justice with experience as a public defender since the mid-1980s.
Kyle C. Barry October 9, 2020
These Twelve Elections Could Curb ICE’s Powers
In many places that have long helped arrest and detain immigrants, voters will decide the fate of local partnerships with ICE, possibly dealing a series of blows to the agency.
Daniel Nichanian October 9, 2020
How New Orleans Activists Are Pushing D.A. Candidates to End Mass Incarceration
The retirement of a notoriously harsh DA has opened the door for criminal justice reform in New Orleans.
Katie Jane Fernelius October 8, 2020
The D.A. Primary in Los Angeles Narrowly Went to a Runoff. Now That the Election Is Here, the Stakes Are Even Higher
Much has changed in the seven months since George Gascón faced off against incumbent DA Jackie Lacey in one of the most important elections in the country.
Eliyahu Kamisher October 7, 2020
The Sheriff Candidate Who Is Challenging “The Poster Child for the Trump Administration”
Eliseo Santana, running for sheriff in Florida’s Pinellas County, wants to end collaboration with ICE, reduce arrests, and shift some funds toward health services.
Daniel Nichanian October 2, 2020
A Police Union Vice President Hopes Fear Of The Defund Movement Will Propel Him To The Texas House
Republicans could lose their grip on the state House this November, and their control over the 2021 redistricting process hangs in the balance. Justin Berry and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who endorsed him, are hoping to win an important seat back from the Democrats by scaring voters.
Meg O'Connor October 1, 2020
California Adopts New Laws to Fight Racism in Jury Selection
California just made it harder for prosecutors to exclude Black people from jury trials, amid broader reforms against racial discrimination in courtrooms.
Kyle C. Barry September 30, 2020
In Colorado’s D.A. Races, Disagreements Abound on Criminal Justice Reform
In four populous districts with open prosecutor elections, debates center on issues such as drug policy, jail capacity, and police impunity.
Daniel Nichanian September 25, 2020
How One Election Might Strike a Blow to Mass Incarceration in Arizona
In Maricopa County, years of harsh charging and sentencing policies have sent state incarceration rates soaring. Now that legacy is in question in November's prosecutor election.
Meg O'Connor September 22, 2020
Joe Arpaio’s Longtime Deputy Could Become the Next Sheriff of Maricopa County
Jerry Sheridan, who beat Arpaio in the Republican primary, has been complicit in many of the former sheriff’s worst misdeeds.
Jerry Iannelli September 17, 2020
A New Association of Progressive D.A.s Could Overhaul California’s Reform Movement
Prosecutors across the country are rethinking their membership in professional organizations that oppose a meaningful reform agenda.
Jay Willis September 15, 2020
Cincinnati Is an Epicenter for the Death Penalty. Its Prosecutor Race Could End That in November.
In Hamilton County, Joe Deters has sent more people to death row than any other prosecutor in Ohio. His challenger, Fanon Rucker, promises to stop that practice.
Rachel M. Cohen September 15, 2020
Charleston Prosecutor Candidate Wants to “Shut Off the Mass Incarceration Mindset”
In a Q&A, Ben Pogue, who is running to be the chief prosecutor of South Carolina’s Ninth Circuit, discusses how he would confront racial injustice.
Daniel Nichanian September 14, 2020
Why a Suburban Illinois Prosecutor Candidate Is Drawing Inspiration From Protests
This DeKalb County attorney says that fighting mass incarceration will make people safer than President Trump’s “law and order” messaging.
Daniel Nichanian September 9, 2020
Georgia Sheriff Elections Could Limit ICE’s Reach
In Gwinnett and Cobb counties, sheriff candidates are promising to roll back cooperation with ICE. Advocates say they should cut ties completely, while the federal agency threatens retaliation.
Timothy Pratt September 4, 2020
Oregon Could Become the First State to Decriminalize Drugs in November
A ballot initiative could decriminalize low-level drug possession and fund addiction treatment.
Zachary A. Siegel September 1, 2020
In Massachusetts, the Democratic Party Shifts Toward Supporting Voting Rights for All
Most members of the state’s congressional delegation now say they support restoring voting rights to incarcerated people. Will Tuesday’s primaries elect more proponents?
Daniel Nichanian August 28, 2020
Policing And Ties With ICE On The Menu In Norfolk County’s Sheriff Race
This Massachusetts special election, which starts with next week’s Democratic primary, will shape criminal justice reform prospects in this county—and in state politics.
Daniel Nichanian August 25, 2020
Eviction Crisis Brings Urgency to Local Judge Elections
A heated race for New Orleans First City Court Judge highlighted the power judges have to limit evictions, as millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes.
Katie Jane Fernelius August 20, 2020
Progressive Candidate Wins Orlando’s Primary for Prosecutor, and Four Other Florida Takeaways
In Florida’s primaries, voters set up November clashes on criminal justice, multiple sheriffs lost re-election bids, and Miami’s prosecutor secured a new term.
Daniel Nichanian August 19, 2020
“Making Powerful People Feel Uncomfortable Is A Good Thing”: Enter Vermont’s High Bailiffs
Two criminal justice reform advocates, now poised to become high bailiffs, are reimagining this odd office to make the case for civilian oversight on law enforcement.
Daniel Nichanian August 18, 2020
Broward County Will Elect Its First New Prosecutor in 44 Years. Will the Office Veer Left?
In South Florida, the crowded Aug. 18 Democratic primary features one candidate who says he would not prosecute sex work and marijuana possession cases.
Jerry Iannelli August 11, 2020
Wisconsin is Voting For Its D.A.s, But Democracy Is Not On The Ballot
Nearly all of its 71 DA elections feature a candidate running unopposed. Once again, voters won’t have a say over the shape of prosecution and criminal justice.
Daniel Nichanian August 11, 2020
Sheriffs Have A Lot Of Power Over Whether Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Can Vote
They can either make necessary voter registration and ballot materials accessible to people in their custody, or make them impossible to obtain.
Kira Lerner August 10, 2020
Orlando Prosecutor Race Plays Out In The Shadow Of Florida’s Retaliation Against Reform
State Attorney Aramis Ayala has faced reprisal for bold criminal justice reforms. The Aug. 18 election will determine whether her successor builds on her legacy or backtracks.
Samantha Schuyler August 7, 2020
Progressives Score New Wins in Prosecutor Elections, Adding to the Movement’s Breadth
“Maybe we do teach the liberal bastions how things can be done by these country bumpkins over here,” said one winning candidate.
Daniel Nichanian August 5, 2020
Iowa Governor Expands Voting Rights
Governor Kim Reynolds’ executive order restores the voting rights of tens of thousands of people. But it will also leave many Iowans disenfranchised, and little time remains before the November election.
Kira Lerner August 5, 2020
Nine Elections This Week Could Upend Criminal Justice Nationwide
From Aug. 4 to Aug. 8, keep an eye on Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri.
Daniel Nichanian August 3, 2020
Pima County Candidates Battle Over Whether the Prosecutor’s Office Needs an Outsider to Achieve Reform
In this Arizona county with over one million residents, two career prosecutors are facing off against a former public defender in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary, which will decide the election.
Meg O'Connor July 30, 2020
Eleven Prosecutors Form a Progressive Alliance in Virginia
Their move breaches expectations of a monolithic law enforcement perspective, which in the past has helped DA associations push a punitive agenda.
Daniel Nichanian July 28, 2020
Honolulu’s Prosecutor Race Could Flip Hawaii’s Punitive Culture
Running in one of Hawaii’s two open elections for prosecutor, a public defender wants the state to take a progressive turn.
Daniel Nichanian July 24, 2020
St. Louis Prosecutor Faces Voters, After Years of Sustained Fire from Police Union
Kim Gardner has an Aug. 4 rematch against a former prosecutor whom she defeated four years ago, but the terrain has shifted significantly since 2016.
Rachel M. Cohen July 23, 2020
In Detroit Prosecutor Race, a Stark Contrast on Whether Children Should Serve Life in Prison
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has taken a hardline approach toward people sentenced to life without parole as minors. Her challenger says no children should be sentenced to life.
Kira Lerner July 22, 2020
Jamaal Bowman Wants Democrats to Be the “Party of Dismantling Mass Incarceration”
Fresh off of his likely victory, Jamaal Bowman talks about defunding the NYPD and cutting down the criminal legal system.
Daniel Nichanian July 17, 2020
Missouri Voters Could Expand Medicaid and Curb the Overdose Crisis
A referendum to expand Medicaid may be a turning point for a state with some of the worst health outcomes related to substance use.
Zachary A. Siegel July 17, 2020
In Austin Prosecutor Races, Wins for the Left and a Milestone for Drug Decriminalization
The Travis County DA lost resoundingly to a progressive advocate who ran on shrinking the mission of criminal justice and not prosecuting low-level drug cases.
Daniel Nichanian July 15, 2020
A Texas Referendum Provides an Early Window Into Battles Over Police Budgets
Voters in Fort Worth will decide on Tuesday whether to renew a sales tax that funds the police, and local advocates want people to “reimagine” which public services boost safety.
James Russell July 10, 2020
Democrats Running for Prosecutor Want to Break With Maricopa County’s Punitive Past
All three candidates said they would commit to reducing the Arizona prison population if elected, though their visions of the role of the county attorney’s office diverge.
Meg O'Connor July 9, 2020
D.C. Is Poised To Abolish Felony Disenfranchisement
Washington, D.C., is joining Maine and Vermont in allowing incarcerated people to vote.
Oklahoma and Oregon Deliver Two Measures Of Relief For People Facing Poverty
Hundreds of thousands will gain access to public health insurance in Oklahoma, and will avoid having their licenses suspended over debt in Oregon.
Daniel Nichanian July 1, 2020
Austin D.A. Candidate Wants to Stop Sweeping Issues Under the Rug of Criminal Justice
José Garza makes the case for why he would not prosecute low-level drug cases, and how he would hold police accountable in Travis County, in a Q&A.
Daniel Nichanian June 30, 2020
Washington Sheriff Faces Recall Efforts for Endangering Public Health
The Snohomish County sheriff is among a string of officials nationwide who have combined a refusal to enforce lockdown orders with broader policies of increased policing and arrests.
Jessica Pishko June 25, 2020
How Black Lives Matter is Shaping New York’s D.A. Elections: “Police and D.A.s Work Hand in Hand”
Candidates are sparring over their attitudes toward the police in Tompkins and Westchester counties, which hold DA elections on Tuesday.
Daniel Nichanian June 18, 2020
States Expect People to Risk Their Health Even When Voting by Mail, Advocates Warn
Voting rights groups want states to stop requiring that voters get a witness or notary to sign their ballots, at least during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kira Lerner June 17, 2020
A Pro-ICE Bastion Ends Its Partnership With the Agency in Virginia
Prince William County has forged a close partnership with ICE. But a local board opted to end its 287(g) contract on Wednesday.
Felipe De La Hoz June 15, 2020
Georgia Sheriff Who Cooperated with ICE Loses Re-Election Bid
John Williams, the winner in Athens, pledged to not assist ICE and not take donations from the bail bond industry. Georgia will host other heated sheriff’s races in the fall.
Daniel Nichanian June 12, 2020
When Sheriffs Choose to Help ICE
When people are arrested and booked into a local jail, they often end up on ICE’s radar. Sheriffs are a major reason why.
Jessica Pishko June 9, 2020
How Unequal Perceptions of Protest and Violence Shape Black Lives Matter
Juliet Hooker, a scholar of Black political thought, discusses Black Lives Matter, asymmetrical perceptions of violence, and the role that images play in our politics.
Daniel Nichanian June 4, 2020
New York Senator Makes the Case for Defunding the NYPD
“These changes won’t be made unless we demand them loudly and relentlessly,” says state Senator Julia Salazar.
Daniel Nichanian June 1, 2020
COVID-19 Stalls Efforts to Help People with Felony Convictions Register to Vote
In states that restored people’s voting rights, many public agencies aren’t doing enough to assist, and the pandemic slowed grassroots plans to pick up the slack.
Stephanie Wykstra May 28, 2020
How ICE is Using Private Contractors to Dodge Local Democracy
The agency is pursuing contracts with private detention providers to circumvent state and local efforts to curtail and regulate immigrant detention.
Felipe De La Hoz May 26, 2020
Progressive Winner in Portland D.A. Race Expects ‘Shock Waves’ in Oregon’s Punitive System
“Multnomah County has just embraced the most progressive DA platform that this state has ever seen,” said Mike Schmidt, who credited grassroots organizers for his win.
Daniel Nichanian May 20, 2020
Washington Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Have Automatically Cleared Criminal Records
Advocates stress that automating the expungement process will help protect people with past charges or convictions from the economic devastation of COVID-19.
Rachel M. Cohen May 19, 2020
“There’s an Appetite for Change” in Rural Counties, Says New Mexico D.A. Candidate
Brett Phelps, a public defender who is running for DA in the June Democratic primary, makes the case that rural areas are crucial for criminal justice reform.
Daniel Nichanian May 15, 2020
New Mexico D.A.s United to Torpedo Reforms. The 2020 Elections Could Breach That Unanimity.
The June primaries may give reform advocates new allies for ideas they have championed, for instance on drug policy, parole, and voting rights.
Daniel Nichanian May 15, 2020
Santa Fe’s D.A. Candidates Want to Wind Down the War on Drugs
The Political Report talks to the two DA candidates in New Mexico’s First Judicial District. They share similar views on drug policy, part ways elsewhere.
Daniel Nichanian May 15, 2020
Brian Kemp’s Sham Democracy in Georgia
The poster boy of Republican voter suppression is using loopholes in state law to cancel key Supreme Court and district attorney races in 2020.
Jay Willis May 13, 2020
Oregon’s D.A. Elections Mock Democracy, Again
DAs keep resigning in election years, and governors keep appointing deputy prosecutors who then get to face voters as incumbents. It happened again this year.
Daniel Nichanian May 7, 2020
A Powerful D.A. Fought New York’s Reforms. His Challenger Wants to Push Them Further.
Matt Toporowski, up against the former head of the DA’s association, says he would “walk down the halls with advocates and lobby for progressive reform.”
Daniel Nichanian April 30, 2020
Cincinnati Voters Oust Sheriff Who Cooperated with ICE and Championed a New Jail
“The solution to the problem of mass incarceration is certainly not more mass incarceration,” said Charmaine McGuffey, who won. In neighboring Greene County, voters rejected a tax increase to build a bigger jail.
Daniel Nichanian April 29, 2020
Virginia Ends Prison Gerrymandering, the Latest Chapter in a Recent Tidal Wave
New law changes where incarcerated people are counted for redistricting. Advocates vow to push against felony disenfranchisement next year.
Daniel Nichanian April 23, 2020
A New Supreme Court Justice Could Swing Criminal Justice Decisions in Washington
What newly-appointed G. Helen Whitener does next will shape whether Washington State moves in a more progressive direction.
Kyle C. Barry April 23, 2020
Cities Roll Out Rent Assistance. Advocates Demand Bigger and Bolder Help.
New initiatives are helping thousands from Boston to San Jose. But low funding and poor protections have advocates worried programs are falling short.
Sophie Kasakove April 22, 2020
Algorithms of Inequality
The algorithms states are rolling out to ration scarce resources during the COVID-19 pandemic may ensure that white patients and wealthy patients are more likely to receive life-saving care.
Pria Anand April 17, 2020
Virginia Takes a Big Step Against Criminalizing Poverty
Ending the suspension of driver’s licenses over court debt will spare hundreds of thousands each year. Advocates call for more action against fines and fees, especially during COVID-19.
Daniel Nichanian April 17, 2020
Virginia Makes It Easier to Vote by Mail
The state will no longer require an excuse when voters request an absentee ballot. Advocates say public authorities need to devote enough resources to facilitate mail-in voting and preserve alternatives.
Daniel Nichanian April 16, 2020
In Wisconsin, Liberal Challenger Wins Despite Voting Restrictions and Tough-on-Crime Playbook
Jill Karofsky ousted a conservative Supreme Court Justice in an election marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, poll closures, and missing absentee ballots.
Kyle C. Barry April 14, 2020
“Unconscionable”: New York Senator Denounces State’s Medicaid Cuts and Criminal Justice Reform Rollbacks
“When we look back on this time, what we’re going to be judged by is how we protected those who are most vulnerable,” Alessandra Biaggi said.
Daniel Nichanian April 9, 2020
“It Is Public Safety to Get People Out of Incarceration”: Q&A with Portland D.A. Candidate
Michael Schmidt, who is running for DA in May in Oregon’s largest county, shares his views on criminal justice reform during and beyond the pandemic.
Daniel Nichanian April 2, 2020
Tuesday’s Supreme Court Race Is the Latest Chapter in Wisconsin’s Heated Power Struggle
But one candidate wants voters to forget the beliefs and career record driving his jurisprudence, with criminal justice at issue.
Kyle C. Barry April 2, 2020
Some Supreme Courts Are Helping Shrink Jails to Stop Outbreaks. Others Are Lagging Behind.
In several states, supreme courts issued direct orders to reduce arrests and release people over the past week.
Kyle C. Barry March 25, 2020
“Time Is of the Essence”: How States Can Shore Up Mail Voting
An expert in election procedures unpacks how states should scale up mail voting, and how they should make sure no one is left behind.
Daniel Nichanian March 24, 2020
Colorado Abolishes the Death Penalty and Ends Prison Gerrymandering
Nationwide efforts against the death penalty and against prison gerrymandering have gained considerable momentum just over the past two years.
Daniel Nichanian March 23, 2020
Kim Foxx Defeats Three Challengers in Re-Election Bid as Chicago’s Chief Prosecutor
Foxx claimed a mandate for criminal justice reform after securing the Democratic nomination in Cook County tonight. She will be favored in the general election.
Mari Cohen March 18, 2020
This Tense Sheriff’s Race Could Change Cincinnati’s Poor Jail Conditions
Ohio advocates are resisting proposals to expand the jail and local cooperation with ICE. In the primary on Tuesday, the sheriff and his challenger disagree on both fronts.
Teresa Mathew March 12, 2020
Courts Set Policy, and a Judicial Candidate in Illinois Wants to Finally Talk About It
“In some cases we need the Illinois Supreme Court to use its policy making powers to make criminal justice reform real,” said Daniel Epstein, a candidate in Tuesday’s election.
Kyle C. Barry March 12, 2020
For Decarceration, Election Results Bring One Big Win and Some Prolonged Suspense
Austin, Houston, and Los Angeles voted on Super Tuesday, with stakes for incarceration and criminal justice reform.
Daniel Nichanian March 6, 2020
On Tuesday, Two Alabama Sheriffs Regained Power to Divert Jail Food Funds
“This incentivizes them once again to underfeed people in their custody if they know the extras can be used on bells and whistles or guns,” warns an Alabama advocate.
Lauren Gill March 5, 2020
Progressives See Super Tuesday as a Chance to Transform Los Angeles
“We’re at a watershed moment for criminal justice reform,” Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said about Measure R and LA’s upcoming DA election.
Daniel Nichanian February 28, 2020
Virginia Makes All Children Eligible for Parole, a Major Shift for This Punitive State
The reform’s impact will hinge on Virginia’s parole board no longer denying most applications it receives.
Daniel Nichanian February 24, 2020
D.A. Associations Should Own Up to the Splintering Politics of Prosecution
California’s DA association responded to a critic in a letter signed by nearly all prosecutors. But this may only exacerbate worries about DAs’ tendency to talk in a single political voice.
Daniel Nichanian February 14, 2020
Austin Prosecutor Candidate Wants to Cut His Budget and Avoid Jailing Anyone
Dominic Selvera hopes to “shrink the system” if elected Travis County Attorney. In a Q&A, he explained how he would cut prosecutions, and steer money toward public services “outside of the criminal justice system.”
Daniel Nichanian February 13, 2020
Blockbuster D.A. Races Rock Big Texas Counties, from Austin to Houston
The death penalty, drug policy, and bail reform are shaping Texas debates, with primaries just weeks away. But across the state, hundreds of local elections are left uncontested.
Daniel Nichanian January 30, 2020
Chesa Boudin’s New Bail Policy is Nation’s Most Progressive. It Also Reveals Persistence of Tough-on-Crime Norms.
Boudin just eliminated cash bail and restricted pretrial detention in San Francisco. He also reaffirmed a flawed quest to predict who should be jailed over what they might do.
Colin Doyle January 30, 2020
When a Sheriff’s Jail Is Emptied
New York sheriffs are fighting the state’s cuts to pretrial detention. But bail reform can push sheriffs to embrace shrinking jails.
Jessica Pishko January 24, 2020
California Prosecutor Quits State’s D.A. Association: “Let’s Accept Responsibility for The Mistakes We’ve Made”
The CDAA has opposed “almost all change that the voters of California had asked us to enact," San Joaquin County DA Tori Salazar said in a Q&A.
Daniel Nichanian January 23, 2020
When New Jersey Next Redistricts, It Will Count Incarcerated People Where They Lived
A new law ends prison gerrymandering in legislative redistricting. New Jersey will continue to disenfranchise incarcerated people.
Daniel Nichanian January 21, 2020
Where Are the (Reform) Candidates in Ohio?
Few Ohio elections feature candidates talking of criminal justice reform, with some notable exceptions such as in Cincinnati. Some activists are pressing ahead through other organizing.
Daniel Nichanian January 16, 2020
How Rachel Rossi Would Change the D.A.’s Role in Los Angeles: “It Takes a Public Defender”
Rossi rules out seeking the death penalty or prosecuting sex work. “Oftentimes justice may mean a restorative outcome. Oftentimes justice may mean never filing a case,” she said in a Q&A.
Daniel Nichanian January 16, 2020
The Prosecutorial Chronicles, Jan. 2020: New Officials Take First Steps, Halt Pot Charges
Two Virginia prosecutors stop charging marijuana possession—mostly. And newly-elected DAs are sworn in as well in California, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Daniel Nichanian January 16, 2020
How George Gascón Wants to Reform Los Angeles and Achieve “the Lowest Level of Intervention”
“The problem is that LA County has come to a place where they use the most expensive and the most intrusive tools of the criminal justice system to deal with every behavior," Gascón said in a Q&A.
Daniel Nichanian January 9, 2020
In Maryland, an Abrupt Change in Leadership Could Boost Sentencing and Parole Reform
In a Q&A, Senator William Smith lays out his priorities to encourage decarceration as the new chair of a powerful Maryland committee.
Daniel Nichanian January 9, 2020
From Marijuana to the Death Penalty, States Led the Way in 2019
A retrospective on the year that was on criminal justice reform. Seven maps. 16 issues. 50 states.
Daniel Nichanian December 20, 2019
One Week’s Work: New Jersey and Kentucky Restore Voting Rights to More than 200,000
More than 200,000 people regain their voting rights, and advocates vow further action. “To vote has value to the soul,” a New Jersey advocate said at a signing ceremony.
Daniel Nichanian December 18, 2019
The Prosecutorial Chronicles, Dec. 2019 edition: A Tale of Political Contrasts
Some prosecutors speak up for ending disenfranchisement and sending their staff to visit prisons, while a Pennsylvania DA sought to block a release.
Daniel Nichanian December 12, 2019
As Illinois Votes for Its Prosecutors, Defense Attorneys Say to Not “Just Go with the Flow”
We preview the 2020 races for prosecutor in the biggest Illinois counties, starting with the high-stakes election in Cook County (Chicago).
Daniel Nichanian December 12, 2019
In 2020, Look at Sheriffs and Prosecutors Too
In Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and beyond, next year will bring blockbuster local elections that could overhaul law enforcement and criminal justice.
Daniel Nichanian December 5, 2019
Prosecutor and Sheriff Elections in 2020: A Masterlist and Calendar
Nearly 2,300 prosecutors and sheriffs are set to be elected in 2020. This page details which counties are voting, and their filing deadlines and election dates.
Daniel Nichanian November 27, 2019
When People in Prison Can Vote, Officials “Treat Them With Some Respect”
A New York bill would abolish felony disenfranchisement. That would mean law enforcement is no longer the arbiter of who gets to vote.
Daniel Nichanian November 22, 2019
As Michigan Raises the Age, Advocates Vow to Press for More Change
Michigan automatically treats all 17-year olds as adults, but that will soon change with a major new reform. But prosecutors will retain broad discretion.
Daniel Nichanian November 14, 2019
“This Is Where the Real Work Begins”: What Chesa Boudin’s Win Means for San Francisco
Two San Francisco-based advocates discuss the organizing that helped Chesa Boudin, and the next steps for mass incarceration and criminal justice reform.
Daniel Nichanian November 14, 2019
Voters Beyond Big Cities Rejected Mass Incarceration in Tuesday’s Elections
A wave of progressive candidates prevailed in elections for prosecutor, overhauling the politics of criminal justice in Virginia and beyond.
Daniel Nichanian November 7, 2019
Your Guide to the 2019 Elections, in Six Questions
Will 2019 grow the ranks of decarceral officials? The results will shape bail reform, policing and charging practices, ICE cooperation, voting rights, and more.
Daniel Nichanian October 31, 2019
“How Are You Keeping My Community Safe If You’re Stealing My Resources?”
A candidate for prosecutor in Loudoun County, Virginia responds to attacks on her background and argues that criminal justice reform can help public safety.
Daniel Nichanian October 24, 2019
D.A.s Increasingly Treat Overdoses as Homicides. Will November Reel That In?
In New York and Pennsylvania, some DA elections could slow the surge of homicide prosecutions in the aftermath of an overdose.
Daniel Nichanian October 24, 2019
Louisiana Sheriffs Have a Great Election Night
ICE cooperation and detention conditions were on the line, but sheriff races struggled for salience and drew bipartisan consensus.
Daniel Nichanian October 17, 2019
Reform Candidates Face Pushback in Virginia
In Fairfax and Chesterfield counties, candidates for prosecutor want to reduce the volume of felony convictions. Reform opponents have coalesced against them.
Daniel Nichanian October 17, 2019
New York Adopted Pretrial Reforms. Its DA Races Will Decide Who Implements Them.
New York DA candidates starkly disagree on bail and discovery reforms in Queens and three upstate counties, Dutchess, Monroe, and Ulster.
Daniel Nichanian October 10, 2019
A Public Defender, Running for D.A. in Pittsburgh, Wants to Join Forces with Philly’s Larry Krasner
Lisa Middleman is challenging Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala in November. DAs should be “reducing mass incarceration and creating equity,” she told the Political Report.
Daniel Nichanian October 4, 2019
New Jersey Attorney General Bans ICE’s 287(g) Program
Gurbir Grewal terminated existing 287(g) contracts. But immigrants will continue to be treated differently.
Daniel Nichanian October 4, 2019
New Jersey’s 2019 Elections for Sheriff: A Masterlist
New Jersey is holding 11 elections for sheriff in 2019. This page has a masterlist of the candidates who ran.
October 4, 2019
Elections Could Expand Voting Rights This Fall. They Will Take Place in an “Intolerable Condition.”
The November elections in Mississippi, Kentucky and Virginia could alter the politics of rights restoration and potentially expand the electorate.
Daniel Nichanian September 26, 2019
How Sheriffs’ Power and Autonomy Make Them Central Players for Policing Reform
Our ongoing series on the role of sheriffs turns to a site of heated political battles: policing powers.
Jessica Pishko September 26, 2019
Prosecutors Roll Out Reforms in Four States
A Maryland prosecutor stops seeking cash bail, Kentucky and Virginia prosecutors limit pot cases, and a Hawaii prosecutor reduces charges for driving offenses.
Daniel Nichanian September 19, 2019
In Louisiana, Sheriff Elections Will Shape ICE’s Reach
“They’re trying to send Hispanics to Mexico or Honduras and put Black men in jail,” said one candidate regarding prevailing practices. “The United States is made for everybody.”
Daniel Nichanian September 19, 2019
California Legislature Adopts a Flurry of Criminal Justice Reforms
New laws signed by Governor Newsom target private prisons, and fines and fees, the power of DAs, and more.
Daniel Nichanian September 19, 2019
Federal Judge Rebukes Houston DA for Using the Willie Horton Strategy
The response lays bare the absurd premise of those who offer a handful of anecdotes as reason enough to oppose a systemic reform.
Daniel Nichanian September 12, 2019