Category: justice reform

Reducing Jail Use in Birmingham, Alabama

I have advocated for many years that municipal courts are an untapped leader in developing reforms that can measurably reduce local jail populations. The jails are currently filled with citizens who quite simply would be better served without the use of confinement. In November 2017, NLC selected the City of Birmingham, Alabama as one of

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Big-Picture Lessons Learned from City Jail Reduction

When we discuss crime, public safety and the reforms needed within our systems, addressing mass incarceration and its inequities are typically considered a high priority. However, what is not always considered as critical in these discussions, is the need for strategic policy changes to address jail reduction in our local systems. Today, NLC released the

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Racial Bias in Facial Recognition Technology: What City Leaders Should Know

On July 1 the City of San Francisco effected a ban on facial recognition technology—the first of its kind in the nation.  Aimed at leading with transparency, accountability and equity, the ban passed as part of the city’s Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance.  While the city stopped testing facial recognition technology in 2007 and has not

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Implicit Bias, Liability and Cities

We all have bias. An inescapable reality of humanity, bias is the evaluation of one group and its members relative to another and can be implicit or explicit. Implicit bias refers to the way people unconsciously and sometimes unwillingly exhibit feelings, attitudes, and judgments towards other individuals and groups. By understanding the implicit biases embedded

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How Local Leaders Can Help Our Most Vulnerable Young People

City governments and city leaders continuously grapple with the costs of the “deep end” of the juvenile justice system. Deep-end youth include the roughly 30,000 young people placed in detention facilities who may be better served in targeted community-based services in the city. Deep-end youth constitute our most vulnerable and marginalized young people. Many deep-end

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What Triage Centers Mean for Cities, First-Responders and People in Crisis

Triage centers provide a strong opportunity to bring first responders and community-based service providers together to effectively address behavioral health crises and improve quality of life across a city. City leaders across the country are prioritizing better police responses to people suffering behavioral health crises, which include mental health or substance abuse crises.  Triage centers

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How Small Cities Can Address Addiction

Too often people suffering with addiction end up entangled in the criminal justice system, as substance misuse and addiction continue to increase across the nation as cities grapple with how to tackle the epidemic. Small cities can face the daunting challenge of addressing similar rates of addiction with less resources than larger cities. In November at

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What’s Next for the Affordable Care Act?

While a federal district court ruled the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional on December 14, the Act and the litigation will continue. The judge didn’t issue a nationwide injunction which would have had the effect of immediately ceasing all aspects of law. Unsurprisingly, the states defending the law have stated they will appeal this ruling

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City Leaders Should Consider Pre-Arrest Diversion

Several cities across the nation are embracing pre-arrest diversion to reduce mass incarceration. Pre-arrest diversion allows officers to divert a person into community services to receive treatment rather than arresting and jailing that person. Cities play an integral role in who enters local jails and are implementing programs and policies, such as pre-arrest diversion, that

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