ABA section takes up criminal justice reform

Criminal justice reform, the First Step Act and youth diversion programs will be among the topics discussed during the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Twelfth Annual Fall Institute  to be held Nov. 7-8 in Washington,D.C. The two-day meeting will be coupled with two more days of section meetings, and will also feature an opening address on Friday from 8:45-9:15 a.m. by District Attorney Rachel Rollins of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston.

Later Friday, Judge Richard Mark Gergel of the U.S. District Court Charleston Division in South Carolina will deliver the keynote address for the section’s awards luncheon from 12:30-2:15 p.m.

Program highlights include:

• “White Collar Crime Town Hall: When Cooperation becomes Cooption – The Risk That Companies Under Investigation Become State Actors” — Companies under investigation go to great lengths to cooperate with the government to receive cooperation credit and avoid criminal charges, but how far is too far? What are the circumstances when the government asks too much of a company? What are the consequences when the company goes along with every government request? This panel will explore the Department of Justice policy of corporate cooperation, recent cases examining when a cooperating company becomes a “state actor” and the consequences of a cooperating company becoming a “state actor” for both internal investigations and criminal cases. t

• “Plenary Session – Voices from the Frontline: Embracing the Narratives of Diverse and Intersectional Women in Criminal Justice” — The ABA’s Women in Criminal Justice Task Force, made up of judges, attorneys, law professors and law students, will present highlights from its nearly yearlong listening tour. The session will address the question, “After hearing so many personal stories, where does the Task Force and the Section go from here?”

Speakers will include Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford-Morris.

• “Criminal Justice Reform: Taking the Next Indicated Steps” — In recent years, criminal justice reform initiatives have gained momentum in state and local jurisdictions but have made slow gains in the federal system. Panelists will discuss lessons learned from these efforts for the next round of executive and legislative proposals on such pressing issues as mandatory minimums and other sentencing challenges, mass incarceration and prison reform, treatment and alternatives to incarceration court programs as well as increasing calls for prosecutorial “transformation.”

• “The Power of Restorative Justice to Change Lives in the Criminal Justice System” — This program will discuss RISE, a pathbreaking program aimed at ending the cycle of violence and addiction that leads to mass incarceration. The panel will feature U.S. District Court Judge Leo Sorokin in Boston, who developed RISE.

• “First Step Act and the PATTERN Risk Assessment Tool” — The First Step Act is the criminal justice reform initiative signed into law by President Donald Trump. One of the key features of the act is the creation of a risk assessment tool for use in evaluating the risks of recidivism presented by every federal prisoner. The new tool – named PATTERN – is now out and being evaluated by the stakeholders in the criminal justice community. The panel will describe PATTERN and share their thoughts and concerns regarding its development and use.

• “Plenary Session: "Youth Court Diversion Case Reenactment the Global Youth Justice Movement” — This general session will feature volunteer youth, including former juvenile offenders, who currently serve as volunteer youth attorneys, jurors, clerk/bailiffs and judges, on real cases of their peers who have committed minor crimes and offenses, and have been referred to local Youth Court and Teen Court Diversion Programs in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

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