August 14, 2019--The Due Process Institute has joined with dozens of other civil liberties organizations to urge the House Judiciary Committee to adopt important reforms to the reauthorization of Section 215. Chief among those reforms is the elimination of the Call Detail Records program. This program, run by the National Security Agency, was found to have illegally collected data on millions of Americans over a three year period.
June 18, 2019--"Both liberals and conservatives harbored concerns about the First Step Act’s impact on non-citizens, but from different perspectives, said Joseph Luppino-Esposito, director of the Rule of Law Initiatives for the bipartisan Due Process Institute, who had lobbied Republicans in support of the act. Liberals were worried the law would be too harsh, while conservatives worried non-citizens with drug convictions would be set free. But changing policies toward non-citizens proved too loaded an issue to tackle in this bill, he said. “'These people did go through the (criminal justice) process, and this is sort of the accepted process,' he said. 'Whether or not you agree with the status quo is another issue.'"
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass an important measure, introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg, that would curb the use of "federal adoption" of state and local law enforcement seizures of money and property except in limited circumstances. This measure is one important step in limiting the abuse of civil asset forfeiture, a practice that allows law enforcement to seize money and property from individuals under a mere suspicion of unproven unlawful activity. Neither criminal charges nor an arrest is required for law enforcement to execute this type of seizure. The owners of the property have no right to counsel to challenge the seizure, making it difficult to recover property that law enforcement have wrongly seized, and the legal procedures that govern civil asset forfeiture are inadequate to protect innocent property owners.
The House voted to limit the specific unfair practice of "federal adoption," which is a procedure used by state and local law enforcement agencies to evade any existing state or local legal restrictions on civil asset forfeiture by allowing the federal government to "adopt" the property, but then return much of the financial proceeds from the seizure back to the state or local law enforcement agency anyway; this allows law enforcement to profit from a seizure even in cases where their own laws would have prevented such a direct seizure. The Due Process Institute lauds this important vote in favor of increasing basic fairness in civil asset forfeiture procedures--an area rife with well-documented abuse.
June 13, 2019--The Due Process Institute is urging Representatives to support the Amash-Lofgren amendment (Division C, amendment #24) to H.R. 2740, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, State, Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2020. Why?
The Amash-Lofgren amendment seeks to thoughtfully limit the warrantless surveillance of Americans conducted pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Specifically, the Amash-Lofgren amendment prohibits:
1. The intentional targeting of people outside the United States when a significant purpose of that targeting is to acquire communications of a particular person in the United States (often referred to as “reverse targeting”);
2. The acquisition of communications to which no participant is a target (often referred to as “about collection”). The government halted this collection in 2017, but importantly asserts it has the authority to restart this collection; and
3. The acquisition of communications known to be entirely domestic. The government unlawfully collects tens of thousands of wholly domestic communications under Section 702.
May 17, 2019--"Joe Luppino-Esposito, Director of Rule of Law Initiatives at the Due Process Institute, said the size of the wave is important to keep in context. 'There are 3,000 to 4,000 inmates released every month as their sentences end,' he said.
"Still, Luppino-Esposito said that 'it will be important for advocates around the country to step up and help these people return to society and lead productive, crime-free lives.' "Matthew Charles, a guest of Trump’s at the State of the Union, had trouble finding housing after his release under the First Step Act, Luppino-Esposito noted."
On April 10, 2019, Due Process Institute President and Founder Shana-Tara O'Toole was one of the featured speakers at the ABA's Section of International Law 2019 Annual Conference held in Washington DC. Shana spoke on the panel titled, "Corporate Requirement or Getting Thrown Under the Bus? The Prosecution of Individuals in the Anti-Corruption Boom." Shana's comments specifically addressed the existence of compliance defenses used in certain OECD countries and how that may have an effect on the prosecution of individuals.
February 5, 2019--The Due Process Institute joined several civil liberties and tech organizations in asking Congress to refrain from funding certain invasive surveillance technology as a security measure to protect the nation's border. These proposals have included biometrics, mass surveillance, license plate readers, and DNA data, among others.
January 22, 2019--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."
December 11, 2018--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.
November 21, 2018--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.
November 14, 2018--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.
September 20, 2018--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.
September 25, 2018--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.
September 18, 2018--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.
July 16, 2018--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.
June 19, 2018--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.
April 17, 2018--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.