Indiana legislators are now considering changes to the state's public defense system in order to address serious shortcomings in the right to counsel as guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment. This has been especially true in misdemeanor cases.
The Due Process Institute joined a letter urging Indiana legislators to take up this important issue.
Following overwhelming votes of support in the Senate (87-12) and the House (358-36), President Trump signed The First Step Act into law on December 21, 2018. The Due Process Institute has been a leader in the lobbying and education regarding this historic piece of criminal justice reform legislation. "This is a remarkable culmination of years of effort by reformers to get Congress to recognize the need for change," said Director of Rule of Law Initiatives Joe Luppino-Esposito. "The First Step Act will go a long way towards improving public safety and making the federal prison system a place for actual 'corrections', rehabilitation, and redemption. This is the type of reform that stresses justice and effectiveness above all else.
"I look forward to seeing more bipartisan support for reform in the near future as we think about what our next steps ought to be."
The Due Process Institute is heartened by the news that the US Senate will take up the First Step Act and consider it on the floor as early as this week. The First Step Act is supported by the Due Process Institute and dozens of organizations from both sides of aisle because it recalibrates the federal criminal justice system to focus on rehabilitation and redemption, rather than punishment for its own sake. The bill would also change some particularly long sentences.
DPI signed a letter sent to the Senate leaders of both parties responding to a letter from the National Association of United States Attorneys, and explaining why the group's opposition to the First Step Act should be rejected.
Director of Rule of Law Initiatives Joe Luppino-Esposito was quoted by DC reporters on the continued movement of the First Step Act, as the new version of the bill was introduced in the US Senate. "The genius of this bill is that it re-focuses on the primary purpose of prison: rehabilitating and correcting criminal behavior," said Luppino-Esposito.
Both the House and Senate are considering the inclusion of "Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Scheduled Analogues" (SITSA) (H.R. 2851/S. 1327) as part of their bill packages to take action relating to the nation's opioid epidemic. The Due Process Institute signed a bipartisan letter opposing the legislation because the bill will broadly expand penalties for drug offenses, concentrate power within the Department of Justice (DOJ), punish people who lack criminal intent, and overcriminalize certain behavior. UPDATE: The House's final opioid bill package does not include SITSA.
The Due Process Institute sent a letter to House leadership raising concerns about H.R. 6729 "Empowering Financial Institutions to Fight Human Trafficking Act of 2018” and opposing its placement on the suspension calendar. Joined by Freedomworks, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Defending Rights and Dissent, the Institute opposes this fast-track measure for a bill that will negatively affect privacy rights of individuals and increase surveillance based on mere suspicions of wrongdoing.
At the summer meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Due Process Institute sponsored a resolution encouraging states to establish efficient and fair criminal law discovery practices. The resolution passed and was recently approved by ALEC's board, making it official model policy.
The Virginia Supreme Court approved a rule change that requires prosecutors in all jurisdictions to turn over police reports and witness statements. This is a significant step towards a more fair criminal legal system. The Due Process Institute was part of the effort that encouraged the Court to approve these rule changes.
The House of Representatives passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act and included the E-mail Privacy Act. This is an important step towards updating our laws to reflect technological changes and respect the Fourth Amendment. The Due Process Institute signed a letter of support, directed at the Senate Armed Services Committee, to approve the NDAA's language that included the E-mail Privacy Act.
Commenting on banks sharing customer information, Due Process Institute President Shana O'Toole explained: “My concern with this program is what customer information is being shared... Efficiency is great, but constitutional protections are mandated.”
The Due Process Institute, in conjunction with NACDL, hosted a screening of Abacus: Small Enough to Jail at the E Street Cinema in Washington DC. Afterwards, Shana O'Toole moderated a Q&A Session with members of the Sung Family and one of the documentary's producers, Mark Mitten.
Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards, the film centers on a small family-owned bank in New York City's Chinatown that was the only financial institution to face criminal charges following the subprime mortgage crisis. The documentary serves as an engrossing legal thriller, as well as a compelling portrait of the Chinese-American community in New York City as it intersects with a deeply flawed criminal legal system.
The Due Process Institute joined several other groups, notably the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in comments favoring changes to Virginia's discovery rules that we believe will lead to a more just legal system.
Progress! H.R. 5682, the FIRST STEP Act passed the House 360-59, a resounding vote for reform. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. The Due Process Institute supports this legislation.
The Due Process Institute urges the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to report important data regarding the government's collection of details of phone calls, as required under the USA FREEDOM Act. Obtaining this data is particularly important given that the number of call detail records collected under surged to over 540 million in 2017--more than triple what was reported for 2016.
The U.S. Senate considered taking up amendments to current law regarding the quantity of drugs required to trigger mandatory minimum sentences and also considered increasing the length of those sentences. The Due Process Institute joined an effort that successfully convinced the Senate to refrain from pursuing this unhelpful legislation.
The Due Process Institute's President Shana O'Toole was featured with co-author Jason Pye of FreedomWorks in the Morning Consult for their piece, "Second Chance Month Brings Opportunity for Prison Reform."
The Due Process Institute has joined Prison Fellowship as a partner celebrating Second Chance Month, raising awareness for the millions of Americans with a criminal record who deserve a second chance.
The Due Process Institute is honored to join the Digital Due Process Coalition in their efforts to modernize America's surveillance laws in the internet age. The coalition is made up of a broad and diverse group of advocacy organizations and industries working together to enhance your due process rights.