The Marshall Project, in conjunction with Lawrence Bartley, a person formerly incarcerated for 27 years, has launched News Inside, writing about criminal justice for Americans behind bars. They are currently seeking to expand from 19 to all 50 states.
Holistic defense improves outcomes for defendants, resulting in fewer imprisonments and shorter sentences. However, the difficulty and rarity of this defense show a need for a more systemic reimagining of criminal justice.
Even while the system seemed immobile or retrograde, the criminal justice reform movement has been steadily building local programs. Now, as the opportunity for reform opens back up at the federal level, a robust infrastructure is in place to speed implementation.
The Marshall Project and ProPublica win the highest accolade in journalism for their collaborative story about a rape investigation gone very wrong. It is this kind of journalism that invades the crowded public consciousness and helps to make change and it is nonprofit innovation gone very right.
The release of 6000 federal prisoners should have every nonprofit working in low-income communities considering the part they can play in developing a sense of mutual accountability between those former prisoners and the community and in easing their path to re-entry.
President Barack Obama sat down to discuss his ideas and proposals for reforming the criminal justice system, including drug rehabilitation, eliminating mandatory sentences, and improving police relations with the community.
Nonprofits should be paying close attention to the progress and shape of criminal justice reform in the United States right now, in that the issue intersects with poverty, community well-being, human rights, mental health, racial justice, and so much more. We are lucky to have a dedicated nonprofit news source on the case, but are you watching this, as you should be? As Bill Keller notes, this moment is important, as Congress prepares to deliver (a little) criminal justice reform. He asks, is this the beginning—or the end?
Anyone watching the philanthropic landscape who cares about democracy should start worrying about the confluence of top-down strategic philanthropy with the rise of philanthropically-backed journalism.