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New Proposal: Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration

December 4, 2013 Comments off

New Proposal: Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration
Source: Brennan Center for Justice

A leading law and policy institute unveiled a new proposal to reform the federal government’s largest criminal justice funding program. The Brennan Center for Justice’s new proposal, Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration, sets out a plan to link federal grant money to modern criminal justice goals – as a tool to promote innovative crime-reduction policies nationwide.

The proposal, dubbed by the authors “Success-Oriented Funding,” would recast the federal government’s $352 million Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, by changing the measures used to determine success of its grants. It reflects a broader proposed shift in criminal justice programs at all levels of government. The proposal could be implemented without legislation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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What the Government Does with Americans’ Data

October 21, 2013 Comments off

What the Government Does with Americans’ Data
Source: Brennan Center for Justice

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the government’s authority to collect, keep, and share information about Americans with little or no basis to suspect wrongdoing dramatically expanded. While the risks and benefits of this approach are the subject of intense debate, one thing is certain: it results in the accumulation of large amounts of innocuous information about law-abiding citizens. But what happens to this data? In the search to find the needle, what happens to the rest of the haystack?

For the first time in one report, the Brennan Center takes a comprehensive look at the multiple ways U.S. intelligence agencies collect, share, and store data on average Americans. The report, which surveys across five intelligence agencies, finds that non-terrorism related data can be kept for up to 75 years or more, clogging national security databases and creating opportunities for abuse, and recommends multiple reforms that seek to tighten control over the government’s handling of Americans’ information.

Federal Judicial Vacancies: The Trial Courts

July 3, 2013 Comments off

Federal Judicial Vacancies: The Trial Courts
Source: Brennan Center for Justice

Unusually high judicial vacancy levels coupled with unprecedented workloads are burdening federal district courts like never before. Judicial vacancies have remained uniquely high throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, with annual vacancies averaging significantly higher than those experienced during George W. Bush’s presidency. As seats remain unfilled, millions of Americans who rely on district courts are being denied the justice they deserve. The President and the Senate must find a way to avoid fill these crucial seats.

Are They Allowed to Do That? A Breakdown of Selected Government Surveillance Programs

July 2, 2013 Comments off

Are They Allowed to Do That? A Breakdown of Selected Government Surveillance Programs
Source: Brennan Center for Justice

As news of the government’s broad surveillance programs develops, a host of unanswered questions arise. This fact sheet answers many of those questions, examining the legal and practical steps the government may have taken to secretly collect data.

Poll: Super PACs Leave Americans Less Likely to Vote

April 26, 2012 Comments off

Poll: Super PACs Leave Americans Less Likely to Vote
Source: Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law

A new national poll finds that the outsized spending of super PACs and other groups in the 2012 election cycle has given rise to significant, bipartisan fears of corruption and heightened distrust in government. The poll, conducted on behalf of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, also finds that one in four Americans are less likely to vote this year due to fears that candidates cater to the interests of super PAC donors over the public interest.

One in four Americans — 26% — say they are less likely to vote because big donors to super PACs have so much more influence over elected officials than average Americans.

  • Less wealthy and less educated Americans were significantly more likely to say they would be less likely to vote because of super PAC influence: 34% of respondents with no more than a high school education, and 34% of those in households with an annual income less than $35,000, said they would be less likely to vote.
  • 41% of respondents — including 49% of those who have no more than a high school education and 48% of those with household incomes under $35,000 — believe that their votes don’t matter very much because big donors to super PACs have so much more influence.

The poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans believe super PAC spending will lead to corruption, while three in four believe that limiting how much corporations, unions and individuals can donate to super PACs would curb corruption. These beliefs are held equally by both Republicans and Democrats.

+ National Survey: Super PACs, Corruption, and Democracy

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