Due Process Institute is a bipartisan nonprofit that works to honor, preserve, and restore principles of fairness in the criminal legal system.
This mission of procedural fairness is a vital one given the erosion of these rights in recent decades. Importantly, due process concerns transcend liberal/conservative labels and therefore we focus on achievable results based on core principles and values that are shared by all Americans.
Guided by a bipartisan Board of Directors, and supported by bipartisan staff, we create and support achievable solutions for challenging criminal legal policy concerns through advocacy, litigation, and education.
We are lawyers and lobbyists for the Constitution, working with an incredibly diverse coalition of lawmakers, public policy organizations, defenders, business leaders, the formerly incarcerated and their families, and the public to help bring more fairness to the criminal legal system.
Res, non verba. Deeds, not words.
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May 27, 2020--Due Process Institute supports the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act (H.R. 6172). We urge a YES vote in support of long overdue reform of FISA surveillance, regardless of whether additional reform amendments are successful.
Two weeks ago, the Senate successfully passed the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act (previously passed by the House) with the addition of one important bipartisan amendment improving third-party oversight and input into the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court process. The legislation the Senate passed—which does not include every reform that is necessary to address all of our concerns with FISA surveillance in the United States—still represents a major improvement over current law.
USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act Highlights
The House has an opportunity to further protect our Fourth Amendment rights by adopting additional reform amendments before passing the underlying legislation. These amendments would ensure the reasonable Constitutional safeguard of a warrant is met before the government can search through our personal information—an extraordinary power that our Founding Generation understood could be abused. But regardless of the success of such amendments, we urge a YES vote on the meaningful improvements contained in H.R. 6172.
Please watch our explainer video for more on the importance of reforming FISA.
May 18, 2020--Due Process Institute joined a bipartisan coalition in urging Congressional leadership in the House to adopt an amendment that failed by one vote in the Senate to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This amendment would ensure that federal agencies secure a warrant to obtain internet search and browsing history, thus honoring the Constitutional guarantee of the Fourth Amendment.
May 14, 2020--Due Process Institute releases statement praising the Senate for passing reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that will protect due process rights.
“The USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act could have been significantly improved by the inclusion of a bipartisan amendment from Senators Wyden and Daines that would have protected Americans’ private internet histories from warrantless government surveillance, but the version that the Senate has passed is still a significant improvement over the current laws that undermine due process rights,” said Shana-Tara O’Toole, Founder and President of Due Process Institute. “We are encouraged that Senate leaders crossed their respective political aisles to work together on important reforms that begin to better protect constitutional rights and still allow our government to do the important work of maintaining national security. We urge the House to promptly pass this legislation to ensure that America’s surveillance laws are brought more in line with vital protections guaranteed in our Constitution.”
May 13, 2020--The Due Process Institute endorses the Emergency GRACE Act, one provision of which will ensure everyone incarcerated in a federal prison can apply directly to a judge for compassionate release and loosens some requirements of doing so amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Compassionate release is an important mechanism for reducing our prison populations during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Shana O’Toole, President and Founder of the Due Process Institute. “By passing the Emergency GRACE Act, Congress can ensure a court will promptly hear that motions for compassionate release from the most vulnerable individuals held in our federal prisons.”
The legislation would also extend the reforms included in the First Step Act (that we worked to pass) to federal prisoners who have been serving sentences rendered before November of 1987.
“The First Step Act focused on improving the compassionate release process, and the ability for an individual or his representative to file directly to a court is particularly important in a time like this, when the Bureau of Prisons is bogged down in requests,” said Joe Luppino-Esposito, Director of Rule of Law Initiatives at the Due Process Institute. “Being able to apply the same standards to all BOP prisoners, regardless of their sentencing date, is a full expression of the intent in the First Step Act.”
April 22, 2020--Due Process Institute joined a coalition of organizations calling on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to rescind his recent executive order to restrict release of incarcerated persons and strip crucial speedy trial protections for those in custody. We believe this order undermines the constitutional rights of Texans and erodes the ability for local law enforcement officials and judges to utilize their expertise about what is most needed in their local communities during this difficult time.
April 6, 2020--Due Process Institute advocated alongside a coalition of 50 bipartisan organizations for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to work with their member state agencies to end driver's licenses suspensions solely for court debt during the COVID-19 crisis.
March 27, 2020--Due Process Institute Policy Counsel Jeremiah Mosteller was quoted in Law360 regarding the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by the U.S. Senate: "The bill itself states that defendants' rights under the Sixth Amendment will not be diminished. Jeremiah Mosteller, policy counsel at the Due Process Institute, said that piece was important amid reports that the Justice Department had sought a suspension of some rights during the crisis. 'It's great to see that Congress is reaffirming that our constitutional rights still stand,' he said."
Also contained in this package is a provision that would grant the Bureau of Prisons the power to immediately increase the use of an existing program that releases incarcerated individuals to home confinement under emergency conditions, but unfortunately it does not require an increased use. Another provision would require all federal prisons to provide free video visitation and phone calls under emergency conditions to try to provide incarcerated persons with access to their families at a time when personal visitation is prohibited. Other provisions authorize federal district courts to use video and phone conferences for almost any court function other than a trial even though many courts have already been doing so in recent weeks.
Follow us on Twitter @idueprocess for the latest updates on this legislation and more news relating to how this crisis is impacting those in the criminal legal system.
March 19, 2020--Due Process Institute has joined a bipartisan coalition of criminal justice reform organizations in supporting the REFORM Alliance's S.A.F.E.R. Plan--a set of recommendations for governments to follow in addressing the unique dangers the pandemic presents to those incarcerated:
On January 11, 2020, Due Process Institute co-hosted a community event, "Pretrial Justice: Examining the Need for Pretrial & Criminal Discovery Reform in Virginia" at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA, along with NACDL, VACDL, Americans for Prosperity, and Legal Aid Justice Center. The event presented multiple panels on important issues affecting the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth. The final panel, on effective citizen advocacy, was moderated by Joe Luppino-Esposito and featured Congressman Bobby Scott (VA) and Virginia Delegate Steve Heretick.
Due Process Institute has been actively working in Virginia to improve criminal discovery. Joe has weighed in on the importance of including sanctions for prosecutors who fail in their discovery duty, and has also suggested reform solutions that would put Virginia in line with its neighbor North Carolina.
In 40 states, as well as under federal law, a jury can find you not guilty of a criminal charge but a judge can still sentence you to jail for many years based on the facts underlying the acquitted charge. This is known as acquitted conduct sentencing, and Due Process Institute is leading the movement to end the practice. As part of the effort, Director, Rule of Law Initiatives Joe Luppino-Esposito delivered a presentation on the constitutional flaws with acquitted conduct sentencing to the Criminal Justice Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council States and Nation Policy Summit in December 2019.