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Legislation and Public Policy

  • Criminal Records, Race and Redemption

    “Poor individuals of color disproportionately carry the weight of a criminal record. They confront an array of legal and non-legal barriers, the most prominent of which are housing and employment ... To address these issues, this article proposes a redemption-focused approach to criminal records. This approach recognizes that individuals ultimately move past their interactions with the criminal justice system and, therefore, they should no longer be saddled by their criminal records. Thus, the article calls for greatly expanding laws that allow individuals to remove their criminal records from public access and, in the end, allow them to reach redemption” (p. 963). This article is divided into four parts. Part I-Race and Criminal Records. Part II-Criminal Records, Housing, and Employment. Part III-Federal, State, and Local Efforts to ameliorate the impact of criminal records-the Federal Interagency Reentry Council; Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Equal Employment Opportunity; and state and local efforts to “Ban the Box Movement”. And Part IV-the need for a redemptive-focused approach to criminal records”-the inadequacy of existing efforts to ameliorate; the impact of a criminal record; and the redemptive-focused approach.

  • “Give Us Free”: Addressing Racial Disparities in Bail Determinations

    “This article considers racial disparities that occur nationally in the bail determination process, due in large part to the lack of uniformity, resources, and information provided to officials in bail proceedings. It argues that the almost unbridled decision making power afforded to bail officials is often influenced by improper considerations such as the defendant’s financial resources or the race of the defendant. As a result of these failures, the bail determination process has resulted not only in racial inequalities in bail and pretrial detention decisions, but also in the over-incarceration of pretrial defendants and the overcrowding of jails nationwide. The article looks to the example of the ongoing work of criminal justice officials in Saint Louis County, Minnesota to address racial disparities in bail determinations in their county.” (p. 919). This article is divided into four parts. Part I-Bail Determinations: Federal and State Laws and Practices. Part II-Racial Disparities in Bail Determinations: the first generation studies of race and bail from 1970-200; the second generation from 2001-2012; and the cause of racial disparities in bail determinations. Part III-The Racial Justice Improvement Project and Pretrial Racial Justice Reform. Part IV-A Formula for Pretrial Justice Reform: Lessons Learned from Duluth and Beyond.