Due Process Institute is a bipartisan nonprofit that works to honor, preserve, and restore principles of fairness in the criminal legal system.
Importantly, procedural 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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July 6, 2020--Many states suspend an individual's driver's license solely because they cannot afford to pay a debt they owe their state or local court system. This makes it more difficult for these individuals to pay the underlying debt and prevents them from being able to maintain stable employment. These concerns are even more pressing given COVID-19.
Due Process Institute has joined a bipartisan coalition of 15 groups working with Congressional leaders to end these counterproductive policies by passing the Driving for Opportunity Act. This bill will help states who want to enact smart, data-driven policies related to the use of fines and fees in our justice system.
June 25, 2020--On the eve of the committee vote for the Inspector General Access Act, it was discovered that an amendment was proposed that would weaken this legislation's pursuit of accountability at a time when our nation needs it most. Due Process Institute partnered with FreedomWorks and other groups to urge Senate Judiciary Committee members to oppose the amendment and support the underlying legislation. During the bill's markup, this amendment was overwhelmingly defeated and the Act as been advanced to the Senate floor. Now we need a vote! #Accountability
June 23, 2020--In a time of national crisis, Due Process Institute is grateful for the work of Senators Durbin and Grassley for introducing the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act, which will address some of the many issues facing older and sick populations in prison during this deadly virus.
The bill does a number of important things: it expands the eligibility for the existing home detention program to include nonviolent offenders who have served half their sentence as well as older nonviolent people incarcerated in federal prisons for offenses committed in Washington, D.C. The bill ensures that federal “old law prisoners” (those sentenced before 11/1/87 when federal parole still existed) are eligible to benefit from compassionate release reforms passed in the First Step Act. It includes a “fix” to the issue of how to calculate “good time credit” in order to qualify for relief passed under the First Step Act. It also ensures judicial review for home detention eligibility decisions. The bill would explicitly establish that COVID-19 vulnerability during a pandemic serves as a basis for compassionate release and it lessens the waiting period for such release decisions from 30 to 10 days.
Our bipartisan team has been working hard on securing these reforms—some since passage of the First Step Act and others since the pandemic hit our shores. Does it address every over-incarceration issue? No. Does it help everyone who needs help? No. But we endorse this legislation and express gratitude to these Senators for working together to try to ease some of the suffering that is occurring behind the walls.
Since the onset of the deadly virus in March of this year, only 500 federal inmates have been granted compassionate release from incarceration based on their age or health vulnerability to Covid-19. The vast majority of those were released by courts who did so over the objections of DOJ and BOP. The reforms in this bill, if passed, will ensure that many more people suffering will have a chance to be released. #BipartisanWorks
June 4, 2020--As tens of thousands of people take to the streets to demand justice and police accountability after the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, we are reminded once again of the repeated failures of our criminal legal system to protect its own people—particularly black Americans. The people are demanding justice from their government. Congress can answer by increasing police accountability through the bipartisan Ending Qualified Immunity Act introduced yesterday.
Qualified immunity has seriously weakened a civil rights protection that was specifically enacted to protect black Americans from governmental abuses of power. Of course, regardless of the history behind its enactment, that law protects us all, and the doctrine of qualified immunity takes away that right from victims irrespective of our race. But the reality is that because our police focus so much of their most aggressive tactics and policies in black neighborhoods, and that black people are more likely to come into police-initiated contact than others, qualified immunity serves as one of many systemic injustices that currently disproportionately burden black Americans. Our Founder and President Shana O'Toole has written a blog explaining further why Due Process Institute supported the introduction of the bill and the reason why this civil rights protection needs to be immediately restored.
With the understanding that this is only one of many needed structural changes necessary, we strongly endorse this Act to restore remedies under federal civil rights law to victims who have suffered constitutional violations by law enforcement and other government agents.
We commend Representatives Justin Amash and Ayanna Pressley for looking past their many differences to lead this important bipartisan bill forward in an effort to undo the court-created injustice of qualified immunity.
June 3, 2020--During this time of national crisis, Due Process Institute is working hard to pass laws that would increase accountability of the people in our criminal legal system who wield so much power. As part of that effort, we urge the Senate to pass the bipartisan-supported Inspector General Access Act of 2019 (S. 685), which has already passed the House of Representatives.
Unlike most other federal agencies with inspectors general (IG), the Department of Justice's IG does not have the authority to investigate matters of alleged professional misconduct by its own attorneys--including prosecutors. Instead, investigations into a federal prosecutor's misconduct are handled by an internal process with no real independence from the attorneys it is investigating. While there are many well-documented instances of clear and egregious prosecutorial misconduct, these instances have been paired with relatively little accountability.
Without meaningful independent oversight, there is little public accountability for Justice Department prosecutors who engage in reckless or willful misconduct--including the violation of Constitutional rights. We urge the Senate to act quickly to pass this bill as a step toward restoring the public's faith in the rule of law.
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.