The Due Process Institute is a bipartisan nonprofit that works to honor, preserve, and restore principles of fairness in the criminal legal system.
Guided by a bipartisan Board of Directors, and supported by bipartisan staff, the Due Process Institute creates and supports 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.
It's time for action.
April 1, 2020--In honor of Second Chance Month, the Due Process Institute announces its endorsement of the following pieces of bipartisan federal legislation: Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act (H.R. 5065), Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2020 (S. 3240 / H.R. 3627), Shift Back to Society Act of 2019 (H.R. 4253), and Fair Hiring in Banking Act (S. 3441).
“April 2020 has been widely recognized as Second Chance Month. It provides us all with an opportunity to consider how we can help justice-involved community members acquire a true second chance to achieve their full potential in life,” said Shana-Tara O’Toole, President of Due Process Institute. “Congress has an opportunity this April to adopt several meaningful reforms that will have a positive impact in the lives of millions of Americans with a criminal record. Now, more than ever, we urge Congress to pass these four bipartisan supported reforms quickly to help those in need move on from the shadow of their past."
To learn more about these bills, see our recent blog post.
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 24, 2020--In the face of the COVID-19 crisis and the unique public health risk presented in our nation's jails and prisons, Due Process Institute joined a bipartisan group calling on President Trump to utilize his clemency powers to commute the sentences of populations who are exceptionally vulnerable to the coronavirus.
March 19, 2020--The Due Process Institute has joined a bipartisan coalition of criminal justice reform organizations in supporting the SAFER Plan, which gives recommendations to government on how to proceed in the face of the pandemic. We have a shared set of principles and best practices for prison visitation alternatives, cleanliness, and other precautions.
March 16, 2020--“By allowing the significant federal surveillance programs authorized by Section 215 to expire in an effort to hastily advance the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act without appropriate consideration, Senate leadership shows that it is willing to gamble with both our national security and constitutional rights to appease federal agencies," said Shana-Tara O'Toole, President of Due Process Institute. "Congress has had months to craft vital bipartisan reforms that would ensure these programs continue with important safeguards. We ask Senators to oppose cloture and support the 45-day extension so Congress can intentionally and thoughtfully craft positive reforms that will protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and ensure that our surveillance community does not utilize our constitutional protections as a justification to violate our privacy rights.”
March 10, 2020--Due Process Institute has long been concerned about the factors that discourage the rights of every American to be tried by a jury of their peers when accused of a crime. Chief among those is a system that pushes for guilty pleas because prosecutors can hold the threat of enforcing oppressive sentencing regimes if a defendant wants to exercise the right to a jury trial. This is known as the "trial penalty." DPI joined dozens of other advocates to call for a policy solution to this problem.
The National Law Journal has named Due Process Institute's Founder and President Shana O'Toole a Trailblazer in Criminal Law for her vigorous advocacy to protect our Constitution and advance bipartisan criminal justice reform.
On January 11, 2020, DPI 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. NACDL, VACDL, Americans for Prosperity, and Legal Aid Justice Center joined us in running four different 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.
The 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 the Due Process Institute is leading the movement to end the practice. 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 early December 2019.
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