2009 Criminal Justice Transition Coalition Priorities
Overcriminalization of Conduct, Federalization of Criminal Law, and the Exercise of Enforcement Discretion
1. Passage of the Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act of 2008 to help protect attorney-client privilege and employees' rights in internal investigations.
2. Passage of legislation modeled on H.R. 1998, 107th Congress, "Federalization of Crimes Uniform Standards Act of 2001."
Federal Law Enforcement Reform: Improve Investigative Techniques, Including Eyewitness Identification, Incentives to Testify, and Interrogation
1. Ensure justice by improving investigative techniques through eyewitness identification, incentivized testimony, and interrogations reform.
Forensic Science Reform: Federal Oversight and Standards
The federal government needs to authorize and fund a federal entity or capacity, located within a science-focused agency, to
1. Conduct serious research into the validity and reliability of forensic techniques;
2. Establish standards for their use in the courts, and
3. Set enforceable standards and create a system to secure the integrity of forensic evidence through quality assurance, accreditation, training and the tracking of its use in the court system.
These are the issues brought before the National Academies of Science "Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sciences Community," and will likely be released as recommendations from that Committee as early as December 2008. It will be imperative to capitalize on the momentum and interest generated by its publication.
Federal Grand Jury Reform
1. Allow a witness before the grand jury who has not received immunity to be accompanied by counsel in his or her appearance before the grand jury (amend Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure).
Federal Sentencing Reform
1. Eliminate the crack cocaine sentencing disparity.
2. Expand alternatives to incarceration in the federal sentencing guidelines.
3. Expand the Residential Drug Abuse Program.
Asset Forfeiture Reform
1. Civil asset forfeiture: Amend the federal equitable sharing law, under which state police circumvent state forfeiture laws by turning over the forfeiture to federal law enforcement authorities in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds (amend 21 USC § 881(e)).
2. Criminal asset forfeiture: Safeguard the accused's right to a fair procedure for determining the amount of any criminal forfeiture, and, in particular, provide a right to challenge ex parte restraining orders (amend Rules 7 and 32.2 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure).
1. Forensic Reform (Please see "Forensic Science Reform" section above.)
2. JFAA reauthorization and reform. The JFAA funding streams, and the Innocence Protection Act in particular, expire in 2009. Congress must reauthorize funding in order to ensure that the funding streams necessary to prove innocence remain available.
3. Creation of an Innocence Commission.
4. Passage of S 2421, HR 7021: The Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act.
1. Return the rule of law to U.S. prisons and jails by fixing the PLRA
2. Reduce recidivism and strengthen families.
3. Improve transparency in the world's largest prison system.
Pardon Power/Executive Clemency--Breathe New Life into the Pardon Power
1. Identify the values pardon serves, define a clear operational role for it in the criminal justice system, it, and establish a system for administering the power that will maximize its potential for correcting injustice and advancing the administration's criminal justice policy agenda.
2. Return authority to the Attorney General for signing all pardon recommendations to the President.
Re-Entry--Ensure Successful Reintegration after Incarceration
1. Fully fund the Second Chance Act.
2. Extend federal voting rights to people released from prison.
3. Eliminate the lifetime bans on financial assistance and food stamps for people convicted of drug offenses.
Public Defense Reform--Make our Communities Safer by Supporting Quality Public Defense Systems
1. Funding for John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Act of 2008
2. Congressional authorization for and funding of National Center for Public Defense Services
3. Congressional authorization for a study to determine whether failures by states to provide constitutionally adequate public defense systems contributes to racial disparities within the criminal justice systems.
Death Penalty/Habeas Corpus Reform
1. Stay all federal executions and place a moratorium on federal capital charges pending a thorough data collection and analysis of racial disparities, the adequacy of legal representation, and other inequities in the death penalty system.
2. Create and increase funding for defender organizations that provide post-conviction representation and are independent of the judiciary.
3. Amend habeas-related provisions of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) and the PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (PIRA) so that federal courts are more accessible to prisoners asserting claims of constitutional violations with less deference to prior decisions.
Juvenile Justice Reforms
1. Prioritization of Prevention and Intervention As Effective Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention and Crime Reduction Policy
2. Protection of Youth in the Juvenile Justice System and Promotion of Developmentally-Appropriate Policies
Fixing Medellin: Compliance with International Law and Protecting Consular Access
1. The United States should rejoin the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (we withdrew in 2005).
2. The Congress should pass legislation implementing the ICJ's decision in Avena, such as the proposed H.R. 6481: Avena Case Implementation Act of 2008.
Victim Issues and Restorative Justice
1. Create a National Commission on Restorative Justice to examine the effectiveness of the restorative justice paradigm in serving the needs of victims and communities and supporting offender accountability and competency both in the US and abroad and to develop a national strategy and action plan
2. Improve support to victims of crime by