Use of Force Policy in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis police department’s use of force policies are receiving national scrutiny after the death of George Floyd. The agency patrol guide is available online here.  Their policy begins in a way that Seth Stoughton and I have criticized, by relying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment caselaw, which uses a very broad “reasonableness” […]

May 31, 2020

May 2020 Duke CSJ Newsletter

We hope you enjoy our May Center newsletter featuring our recent reports, events, publications and writing on this blog: If you have not already, please subscribe!

May 30, 2020

Altering the PATTERN

Last Tuesday, Ian MacDougall of Propublica reported (also printed in Salon) some remarkable news regarding the risk assessment instrument adopted under the landmark FIRST STEP ACT of 2018.  They report: ProPublica obtained a copy of the document, which does not appear to have been finalized, and its existence surprised and baffled lawyers, prison reform advocates […]

May 29, 2020

Constitutional Challenges to Detention Post-COVID

A new short piece in the Harvard Law Review Blog, “Constitutional Criminal Procedure Post-COVID,” provides an overview of litigation occurring nationwide against local jails, state prisons, federal prisons, and immigration detention centers, as individual people, groups, and persons seeking class certification, file civil rights, habeas, and state law litigation seeking release and improved conditions of […]

May 23, 2020

ODonnell Monitor Website

We have launched the official website for the ODonnell Court-Appointed Monitor.  Information about our Monitor Team is available, as well as the Community Working Group, and documents, including our recently posted Monitor Plan for the first year of our work.  The website is here: As we describe there, for the next seven years beginning […]

Five Takeaways from Prison Actions During COVID-19

We have been tracking official state responses to COVID-19, as reported by their Departments of Corrections, as well as media coverage of prison releases across the country. Below are five key takeaways from that coverage so far: Prison responses to the pandemic are varying and fragmented. Governors’ executive orders, Departments of Corrections’ policy changes, parole […]

May 22, 2020

Claiming Innocence Post-COVID

Innocence Claims Remain on Hold During the Pandemic by Deniz Ariturk, CSJ researcher In many jurisdictions across the country, criminal courts have been closed or running on limited calendars since March, due to the coronavirus pandemic. While a useful measure for slowing the spread of coronavirus, the closures have presented a novel challenge for inmates […]

May 20, 2020

Plea Bargaining in the Shadow of COVID-19

I have been reading The Shadow Bargainers,  a detailed study on plea bargaining practices in several public defender offices.  Ronald Wright, recognized for important research on prosecutors, plea bargaining and other issues, Jenny Roberts, a recognized authority on collateral consequences and public defense, and Wake Forest University Professor of Politics and International Affairs Betina Wilkinson, […]

May 19, 2020