Learn how you can help ensure that the principle of due process endures this crisis
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.
It's time for action.
--Follow us on social media and amplify our messages to help educate others about the important policy issues you care about
--Join our ACTION CAMPAIGNS. Let your voice be heard by your lawmakers!
--Volunteer as an attorney for our amicus work
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--Join our staff or board
--Support our 501(c)(3) sister organization at Clause 40 Foundation
January 29, 2021--Due Process Institute and a bipartisan coalition joined to support the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act after its reintroduction in the House of Representatives. This bill will guarantee that email communications between an individual in a federal prison and their attorney will receive the full protections of attorney-client privilege. We urge members of the 117th Congress to cosponsor and support the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act to ensure access to robust legal representation throughout the federal prison system.
Due Process Institute also thanks our allies at Right on Crime, Americans for Prosperity, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Prison Fellowship, and Freedom Works for joining us in this letter.
January 21, 2021--Due Process Institute joined a bipartisan coalition of over 20 national and local groups calling on Congressional lawmakers to not create a new crime of "domestic terrorism" and to not give additional power to surveillance agencies in response to the assault on the Capitol on January 6th, 2021.
A new domestic terrorism law would allow for harmful future investigations based on political affiliation, mainly targeting marginalized communities, while law enforcement already has sufficient legal authority to charge these incidents. Furthermore, expanding surveillance was not necessary to prevent the events at the Capitol as information regarding the attack was available in the public domain and publicly on social media. Greater surveillance powers would only lead to more invasive, unreliable, and unconstitutional methods of collecting data.
In this letter, we urge the members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to not allow the security failures that permitted the attack to be the basis for expanded police surveillance authority or for expansion of prosecutorial authority.
January 20, 2021--This is the first change in Administration since Due Process Institute was founded and it serves as an important inflection point for our young organization.
Despite a tumultuous environment, we are proud of our work with the outgoing Administration and a divided Congress to pass the most impactful criminal justice reform in more than a decade as well as numerous other policy achievements that protected due process and increased justice.
We are equally proud to say that we stand ready to work with the incoming Administration and new Congress to pursue further achievements given how much there is still to be done. In fact, we have already worked as part of The Justice Roundtable—a collective of over 100 organizations working to advance justice and end systematic racism in our legal system—to draft a list of executive and legislative branch proposals for the president-elect and the incoming 117th Congress. You may access the Transformative Justice Transition Report below.
Bipartisan work is not easy or comfortable even under the best of circumstances. But we continue to believe that our organization’s commitment to bringing Americans together to work toward the common good is more important than ever. As we find ourselves just weeks past a violent disruption of our democracy at work, we reinforce our bipartisan focus on restoring due process rights, which serve as an integral and enduring part of our republic. We thank our Board Members, who come from a wide variety of political viewpoints, for standing with us and supporting this collective mission, and we ask that the public joins us in seeing today as a new beginning to pursue and protect the ideals that we all share.
January 6, 2021--The work of Due Process Institute focuses on restoring the protections of our unalienable rights as Americans against an overzealous government and its agents. Those due process protections are an integral part of the larger constitutional structure that give shape to our beloved republic.
Today, Congress was slated to confirm the democratic process that ensures peaceful and orderly transition of power, one of the most transformational achievements of our nation’s founding. Unfortunately, that process was violently and inexcusably disrupted by individuals who claimed they were acting on behalf of our country, but their actions discarded its most treasured values and besmirched its institutions.
Our country deserves better than what we saw on Capitol Hill earlier today. Our hearts and thanks go out to the legislators, staff, and press who are continuing to honor democracy with their service.
December 27, 2020--Due Process Institute has long advocated to restore Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals. By removing the ban on Pell Grants, this law will provide more opportunities for education in prison and assist in the pursuit of higher education. Providing access to education is proven to reduce recidivism and helps to prepare incarcerated people for reentry into society.
This reform was achieved with a bipartisan coalition and we are proud to have been a part of this successful effort.
December 8, 2020--Due Process Institute joins a wide variety of organizations in a letter to Google urging more transparency regarding the use of so-called “geofence warrants,” which compel disclosure of all devices within a particular area, and so-called “keyword warrants,” which identify every Google user who searched for a specific word, phrase, or address. Law enforcement uses these warrants to collect swathes of digital location data as well as vast amounts of personal information about our private associations and activities. These broad and sweeping tactics allow law enforcement to circumvent Constitutional limits on surveillance.
As a leading recipient of geofence and keyword warrants, Google is uniquely situated to provide public oversight of these abusive practices. Google received a 75-fold increase in geofence warrant requests from 2017 to 2019. In this letter, we ask Google to further their commitment to privacy by publicly reporting these warrant requests more frequently and with more detail in order to assist privacy advocates in tracking the growth of these law enforcement requests. Identifying and measuring the extent to which law enforcement is relying on these abusive tactics is a crucial step in our fight to ensure privacy and protect constitutional rights.
November 24, 2020--Due Process Institute and our allies joined a letter to highlight the deeply problematic nature of the Intelligence Authorization Act in its current form. Sections of this bill establish social media and online threat surveillance but provide no clear definitions to shield us from the ensuing and sweeping data collection. These stipulations also offer no safeguards for the victims of baseless suspicion and will further stigmatize vulnerable communities. The insufficient regulations in the Intelligence Authorization Act ultimately open the door to future First and Fourth Amendment violations. We call for these sections to be removed, protections to be strengthened, and to expand independent amici in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
October 27, 2020--Due Process Institute joined a letter to Representative Anna Eshoo who has recently pushed for clarity around how federal agencies are using surveillance programs to collect information on countless Americans. She has specifically requested the Acting Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to investigate how federal agencies are using their surveillance powers to target Americans based on their race, ethnicity, and religion.
October 16, 2020--Due Process Institute partnered with the Innocence Project and Prof. Brandon Garrett of Duke Law School's Wilson Center for Science and Justice to urge the Committee responsible for drafting the Federal Rules of Evidence to turn their attention to the critical issue of ensuring scientific integrity in court proceedings.
In a letter supported by a diverse array of academic institutions, legal advocates, and policy organizations, we urged the Committee to consider amending Rule 702 because courts frequently fail to exclude unreliable or insufficiently tested forensic techniques or to rein in exaggerated and misleading claims to experts. These failures are particularly consequential in court proceedings in which life and liberty are at stake.
We thank our many allies for the support, advocacy, and expertise they provided in this effort: Academy for Justice at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; American Civil Liberties Union; Black Public Defender Association; The Bronx Defenders; Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University; Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences; Computational Justice Lab at Claremont Graduate University; Fair and Just Prosecution; Federal Public and Community Defenders; Forensic Justice Project; Innocence Project; The Legal Aid Society; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School; Reason Foundation; Southern Center for Human Rights; and Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke University School of Law.
October 9, 2020--The bipartisan Kenneth P. Thompson Begin Again Act was introduced in the House with the support of a diversion coalition supporting the bill. The Begin Again Act expands the current federal expungement process to include any individual convicted of a first-time, simple possession charge. This bill is a commonsense reform that will ensure these individuals can acquire a true second chance and aligns with a growing body of research showing that expungement has positive benefits for our economy and public safety.
October 5, 2020--Due Process Institute joined Institute for Justice, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and DKT Liberty Project to file a brief with the Sixth Circuit urging it to reconsider a case considering how due process applies when a municipality seizes property through civil forfeiture. The defendants in this case, Wayne County and the City of Lincoln Park, have a proven history of seizing vehicles from thousands of people and retaining them for six month or longer without initiating civil forfeiture proceedings. We believe due process requires a hearing in cases of long-term vehicle seizures where prosecutors do not promptly apply for forfeiture of the property with local courts.
September 23, 2020--The United States House of Representatives passed the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act earlier this week. The bill has now been sent to the Senate. Due Process Institute has led a coalition effort to urge leaders in the Senate to allow prompt consideration of this important bill.
We would like to thank Americans for Prosperity, #cut50, Fair and Just Prosecution, Faith & Freedom Coalition, FAMM, Federal Public and Community Defenders, FreedomWorks, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for joining us in this effort.
September 21, 2020--The United States House of Representatives passed the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act, a bill that the Due Process Institute has been working to advance from the beginning. The bill will ensure that email communications between an individual in a federal prison and their attorney will receive the full protections of attorney-client privilege alongside all other forms of communication. It will now be sent to the Senate where we urge that chamber's leadership to promptly allow its consideration on the Senate floor.
We would like to thank Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Doug Collins for their leadership on this issue and our many bipartisan coalitions partners in this effort.
"On behalf of everyone at Due Process Institute and Clause 40 Foundation, I want to express our profound sadness at the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Before she ascended to the High Court, she was a trailblazing civil rights lawyer and appellate court judge. After her elevation to the Supremes, Justice Ginsburg became the leading light of the liberal wing of the Court and an icon to generations of progressive lawyers and activists.
The coming days and weeks before the presidential election will undoubtedly fuel partisan rancor to extreme levels as the nomination fight looms. But right now, in this moment, members of both parties should join the American people in mourning the loss of such a remarkable woman and jurist.
Requiescat in pace, Justice Ginsburg.”
September 14, 2020--Due Process Institute and a bipartisan group of leaders in Congress have been fighting for months to secure reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that establish reasonable safeguards without hindering our national security. Key provisions of FISA have now lacked Congressional authorization for six months and major concerns have been raised about the widespread misuse of these authorities. Together with allies from across the political spectrum, we sent a letter to House leadership urging them to not utilize an unconventional legislative vehicle for the extension of these authorities that would bar adequate consideration of these controversial and important issues.
September 9, 2020--Today Senators Lee (R-UT), Durbin (D-IL), and Coons (D-DE) introduced The Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act. We are proud to have served as a significant partner in that effort.
If passed, the bill will help fix a serious, structural problem in our federal criminal justice system. Current law presumes that all federal drug offenders should be held in jail while awaiting trial—that is, before they are convicted of anything. Today’s bill eliminates this presumption for federal nonviolent drug offenders—the second largest group of people in the federal system—restoring the presumption of innocence and abolishing this unfair and un-American presumption of incarceration.
If passed, the bill will help to eliminate a leading cause of America’s overincarceration, since the current presumption of detention compels most people facing drug charges to sit in jail as they await their trial, forcing them to consider pleading guilty in order to try to obtain a speedier release. Its burdens fall disproportionately on people of color. Research also now shows that this law does little to protect public safety; all it does is impose a great cost on taxpayers to incarcerate people who should be free while awaiting the resolution of their case. And it is especially harmful during a pandemic, when COVID-19 is ravaging our jails and prisons, exposing detainees, prison staff, and their families to a potentially deadly disease before their guilt or innocence has even been determined.
Like the other bipartisan reform bills we have spearheaded, The Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act presents a simple, effective solution to important failures in our system. We worked hard to make this a reality and to ensure bipartisan support by Congressional leaders and an incredibly diverse array of endorsing organizations. Thanks to our many allies who continuously help prove that #BipartisanWorks: #cut50, a program of Dream Corps, American Civil Liberties Union, American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Black Public Defender Association, Drug Policy Alliance, Fair Trials, FAMM, Federal Public and Community Defenders, FreedomWorks, Innocence Project, Justice Action Network, Justice Roundtable, Leadership Conference, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Prison Fellowship, R Street Institute, Right on Crime, The Sentencing Project, and Tzedek Association.
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.