May 11, 2020--Due Process Institute joined a coalition of more than 35 organizations calling for the U.S. Senate to protect their constituents' freedoms by adopting three vital amendments to the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act. These amendments will help end the warrantless surveillance of the American people currently empowered by questionable interpretations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by federal agencies.
May 6, 2020--Due Process Institute joined Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress, and FreedomWorks to request that the Department of Justice and Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirm all relevant federal agencies have ended their surveillance activities under expired provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. We also request that relevant agencies confirm they are not improperly using the remaining limited exceptions to continue activities that infringe upon the constitutional rights of all Americans.
On May 7th, 2020, this same coalition formally requested assistance with this request from leadership in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
April 22, 2020--Due Process Institute is part of a bipartisan coalition urging Congressional leaders in the respective Judiciary Committees to open up the compassionate release provisions in the First Step Act to a larger group of people. Due to a technicality, anyone currently incarcerated who was sentenced before parole was eliminated in 1987 can only ask for relief from the Parole Commission--they cannot seek compassionate release from the Bureau of Prisons or from a court. This issue is particularly important today as many of these people are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. They are an aging population and have all served at least 30 years of their sentences already. A simple amendment to the First Step Act would allow them to apply for compassionate release to the BOP or a court--at least a fighting chance.
April 15, 2020--Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed several bills into law that were priority items for Due Process Institute in this year’s General Assembly session.
First, HB 873 was the result of years of hard work for reformers focused on pretrial rights and criminal discovery. This bill guarantees that by July 1 of this year, Virginia defendants will have significantly more discovery rights, whether by this law or by the implementation of the discovery rules originally approved by the state Supreme Court that have been delayed. If those rules do not go into effect, the reforms contained in HB 873 will become law. Second, HB 1522 guarantees that, with rare exceptions, one’s assets cannot be forfeited without a criminal conviction. Finally, SB 1 ends the practice of driver’s license suspension for the nonpayment of fines or fees and orders the state to reinstate the licenses for those who had a suspension for that reason. The reinstatement will require no fees on the part of the individual.
These criminal justice reform legislative victories could not have been achieved without a strong bipartisan coalition of reformers in Richmond and throughout the commonwealth. We are proud to have been a part of these successful efforts.
April 1, 2020--In honor of Second Chance Month, 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 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 in this pandemic.
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.”
To learn more about these reforms, see our recent blog post.
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.
February 20, 2020--Due Process Institute's new Policy Counsel, Jeremiah Mosteller, joined a panel at the 15th Annual H.F. Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Panelists discussed innovative ideas to improve our prison system and ensure respect for human dignity.
February 10, 2020--Today, we are thrilled to announce the official launch of Clause 40 Foundation, which takes its name from these words that introduced the concept of due process into the Anglo-American legal tradition: "To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay, right or justice." The Foundation’s aim is to honor, preserve, and promote the due process rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution by supporting public education, events, and research.
We are also pleased to announce that Jonathan Blanks will serve as Contributing Editor for Clause 40 Foundation.
January 7, 2020--“Attorney-client privilege is essential to an effective representation of criminal defendants,” said Shana-Tara O’Toole, President of Due Process Institute. “The Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act establishes the necessary constitutional protections to electronic messages between incarcerated clients and their attorneys. This bipartisan, commonsense reform brings Bureau of Prisons policy into the 21st century and applies the norm of confidentiality to one of the most prevalent forms of communication today.”
December 20, 2019--“Due Process Institute views the Fair Chance Act as a law that will hopefully continue the momentum of providing meaningful second chances to those who need them,” said Shana-Tara O’Toole, President of Due Process Institute. “And we continue to encourage Congress to consider additional much-needed important next steps—supported by Members on both sides of the aisle—to improve the criminal legal system.”
December 7, 2019--After passing the House with a unanimous voice vote, H.R. 4018, which fixes an oversight in an Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program, is now moving in the U.S. Senate. Due Process Institute continues its support for this reform, which will help to fully implement one of the many goals of the First Step Act.
November 27, 2019--The leading Florida newspaper the Sun Sentinel quotes the amicus brief of Due Process Institute to highlight the importance of the 4th Amendment.
October 26, 2019--Director of Rule of Law Initiatives Joe Luppino-Esposito was quoted in the Danville Register & Bee discussing the push towards discovery reform in Virginia and around the country.
“A lot of prosecutors aren’t going to know what’s material to a defendant’s case because they don’t know what a defendant’s case is going to be,” he said.
October 18, 2019--Along with 30+ other organizations, Due Process Institute urges Congress to correct a drafting error that would improperly limit the eligibility of federal inmates for the Elderly Home Detention Pilot Program.
October 17, 2019--Due Process Institute is part of a bipartisan advocacy effort to convince Congress to curtail FISA Section 702 abuse by the FBI and others.
October 16, 2019--Due Process Institute joins a bipartisan coalition of advocates who support the Inspector General Access Act (S. 685). This bill would shift investigations of professional responsibility to the Department of Justice's Inspector General, rather than the current DOJ apparatus that exists today, which is internal to the department. This independent oversight would be more effective in ensuring that the attorneys representing the federal government are held to high standards for professional conduct. The House companion bill has already passed in that chamber.
October 1, 2019--The Hill published an opinion article by Due Process Institute President Shana O'Toole encouraging both chambers of Congress and both parties to turn their focus to abolishing acquitted conduct sentencing.
"Justice is not a partisan issue and every American wants a fair and effective criminal justice system. That requires respect for due process, restoring the primacy of the citizen jury, and adhering to the core principles of our Constitution. We applaud [Senators] Grassley and Durbin for leading the effort to reach across the aisle in a difficult political environment to affirm that Americans should not serve prison time for crimes they did not commit."
September 27, 2019--"The DOJ is comprised of the people that put these people behind bars in the first place," said Joe Luppino-Esposito, the director of Rule of Law initiatives at Due Process Institute. "It's a little odd the clemency process happens within the same department."
Due Process Institute has supported many individuals in their petitions for clemency.
September 26, 2019--Statement of Due Process Institute President + Founder Shana-Tara O'Toole:
“Due Process Institute is proud to endorse the bipartisan Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act of 2019 (S. 2566). The Act will abolish acquitted conduct sentencing in federal criminal cases and thus restore to the people, sitting together as a jury, the exclusive power to decide guilt or innocence.
In conjunction with the bill’s introduction, Due Process Institute has initiated a #JuriesDecide education, advocacy, and litigation campaign.
Everyone learns in grade school that juries decide who is guilty of crimes and who is not. In recent decades, misguided tough-on-crime policies have eroded this fundamental American principle of justice, resulting in vastly longer prison sentences that are based on accusations that juries in fact rejected. We are thrilled that Congress is taking a significant step today to begin to fix our failing criminal justice system.
It is important that we recognize the fundamental principle that juries decide guilt or innocence. Along with the First Step Act, which Due Process Institute also worked to pass, this bill takes another step toward ending our incarceration epidemic. This is why a large and diverse group of people and organizations from across the ideological spectrum has joined the Due Process Institute’s campaign to abolish acquitted conduct sentencing.
We applaud Senators Durbin and Grassley for once again serving as lead sponsors of a landmark bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, as well as co-sponsors Senators Leahy, Lee, Booker, and Tillis, for putting their political differences aside and working together for the good of the country.”
September 17, 2019--Due Process Institute President Shana O'Toole has prepared a Brief Guide to the recently decided and upcoming US Supreme Court criminal law cases who find this sort of stuff to be fun, informative, or compelling (like us!).
September 10, 2019--"Research indicates that approximately 97% of people incarcerated within the BOP will one day return home to the community. It is important that time spent while incarcerated is rehabilitative and prepares people for successful reentry. Congress made a firm commitment to criminal justice reform when it passed the First Step Act — it is time for Congress to reaffirm this commitment by fulling funding its implementation."
August 14, 2019--Due Process Institute has joined with dozens of other civil liberties organizations to urge the House Judiciary Committee to adopt important reforms to the re-authorization 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.
August 1, 2019--Due Process Institute supports the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884) because it would deschedule marijuana, removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, and would provide a process for courts to expunge marijuana convictions and re-sentence people with marijuana convictions.
July 19, 2019--Due Process Institute supports reasonable and necessary measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, but oppose those efforts that undermine due process rights, privacy protections, the attorney-client privilege, and other sound public policies. We hope lawmakers share our concerns and work to make meaningful improvements to the draft legislation before it is introduced.
July 8, 2019--In our opinion, the existing statutory framework of Section 314 and its implementing regulations already give significant cause for concern and fail to adequately protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment and privacy rights. Previous attempts to expand this program through statutory or regulatory means are even more concerning. It is our hope that FinCEN will reevaluate the necessity and efficacy of the Section 314 program and ultimately abandon the practice of warrantless bulk searches and seizures of financial records, or at the very least, adopt clear legal standards and procedural measures consistent with our foundational Constitutional rights. It is also our hope that FinCEN will discontinue its attempts to expand this program by lobbying Congress to amend the authorizing statute or via pursuing additional rule-making.
June 26, 2019--Due Process Institute President Shana O'Toole was quoted in Law360 regarding the recently decided criminal law Supreme Court case Haymond v. United States:
"Shana-Tara O'Toole, founder and president of the nonprofit Due Process Institute, which filed a brief supporting Haymond, said the ruling protected the rights of criminal defendants and may point the way to more robust jurisprudence on the limits of sentencing.
One example O'Toole raised is the 'long-standing question' of whether judges may factor in conduct that has led to an acquittal in sentencing defendants for a charge where they have been convicted. 'We are pleased to see Justice Gorsuch and the majority of the court recognize the importance of the right to jury trial in our constitutional system and hope that it is a signal of where a majority of the court might be on similar questions,' O'Toole said."
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.'"
June 13, 2019--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 20, 2019--Due Process Institute continues to share its bipartisan concerns regarding proposed new criminal laws and unintended consequences of proposed beneficial ownership reporting requirements.
May 17, 2019--"Joe Luppino-Esposito, Director of Rule of Law Initiatives at 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."
May 7, 2019--Due Process Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union, and FreedomWorks oppose certain provisions of H.R. 2513, the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 , because of serious concerns regarding privacy and the use of criminal penalties. Five new federal crimes would be created for first-time paperwork violations, using vague terms and complicated reporting regimes that are likely to trap many small business owners.
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. O'Toole spoke on the panel titled, "Corporate Requirement or Getting Thrown Under the Bus? The Prosecution of Individuals in the Anti-Corruption Boom." Her 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.
April 9, 2019--Due Process Institute is endorsing the Restoring Education And Learning (REAL) Act [S. 1074; H.R. 2168] that has been proposed in both the Senate and the House. The original cosponsors are Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL), Jim Bank (R-IN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and French Hill (R-AR).
“Our justice system fails us if the people returning back into our communities after incarceration do not succeed and the REAL Act takes an important step towards addressing an existing failure,” said Shana O’Toole, President of Due Process Institute. “Education is a critical piece of preparing incarcerated individuals for reentry. After our work on the First Step Act, we know how important Pell eligibility is for establishing much-needed educational programs and learning behind the wall.
“Incarcerated individuals deserve a meaningful opportunity to educate themselves in order to prepare to rejoin us as productive members of society—and we are grateful to see that providing this kind of support is a bipartisan cause.”
March 27, 2019--Due Process Institute is endorsing the FAIR Act, H.R. 1895, co-sponsored by Republican Reps. Tim Walberg, Tom McClintock, and Thomas Massie, and Democrat Reps. Jamie Raskin, Tony Cardenas, and Bobby Rush. The FAIR Act protects Americans against civil asset forfeiture practices that deprive citizens of their property without proper legal processes.
“The FAIR Act restores basic due process rights that have been undermined for decades because of abusive civil asset forfeiture practices. These meaningful reforms have been supported by policymakers and advocates on both sides of the aisle, and we are proud to count ourselves in that group,” said Shana O’Toole, President of Due Process Institute.
“These are sensible, impactful reforms, and we look forward to advancing the FAIR Act to the President’s desk.”
February 5, 2019--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. Due Process Institute urges Indiana legislators to take up this important issue.
December 21, 2018--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. 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 18, 2018--Former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley addressed the Senate in December to recognize the imminent passage of the First Step Act, the most significant criminal justice reform legislation passed in a decade. Due Process Institute was among the core organizations responsible for the bill's ultimate success. Senator Grassley explained:
"A diverse group and a broad coalition of other groups, from the ACLU to the American Conservative Union, supported this bill. I can't list all the groups that offered their key support, but they include FreedomWorks, Justice Action Network, Americans for Tax Reform, Heritage Action, the Due Process Institute, Faith & Freedom Coalition, R Street, Right on Crime, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Prison Fellowship, and members of the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition."
Due Process Institute is proud to be recognized for our efforts, and prouder still that we were part of such an impactful, bipartisan piece of legislation.
December 11, 2018--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 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--Due Process Institute has helped Senate leaders of both parties understand why they should reject the opposition of the National Association of United States Attorneys to the First Step Act.
November 14, 2018--Director of Rule of Law Initiatives Joe Luppino-Esposito was quoted by multiple 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. Due Process Institute joined bipartisan opposition to this 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: Thanks in part to our advocacy, the House's final opioid bill package did not include SITSA.
September 25, 2018--Due Process Institute has concerns about H.R. 6729 "Empowering Financial Institutions to Fight Human Trafficking Act of 2018” and opposes its placement on the suspension calendar. Joined by FreedomWorks, NACDL, and Defending Rights and Dissent, we oppose 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, 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.
July 16, 2018--Thanks in part to our efforts, the House of Representatives including the E-mail Privacy Act when it passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. This is an important step towards updating our laws to reflect certain technological advances with respect to the Fourth Amendment.
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.”
June 1, 2018--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.
May 31, 2018--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, President + Founder 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.
May 24, 2018--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. Due Process Institute joined an effort that successfully convinced the Senate to refrain from pursuing this unhelpful legislation.
May 22, 2018--Our organization's top priority 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.
April 17, 2018--Due Process Institute joined several other groups, notably the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to advocate for changes to Virginia's discovery rules, which will lead to a more just legal system.
April 6, 2018--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."
April 1, 2018--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.