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July 23, 2019

New Council on Criminal Justice launches as nonpartisan think tank and advocacy group

Counciloncj-logoMark Obbie at The Crime Report has this overview of a notable new group working toward criminal justice reform under the headline "Council on Criminal Justice Aims to Provide ‘Center of Gravity’ for Reform."  Here are excerpts:

A research and advocacy organization whose founder bills it as a new “center of gravity and crossroads” for criminal justice policy was set to launch Tuesday with a roster of prominent members from multiple disciplines across the ideological spectrum.

The Council on Criminal Justice will use its invitation-only membership to form ad hoc task forces that study and recommend model policies rooted in a data-driven, nonpartisan approach, with the goal of fixing a system that “is not producing enough safety or justice,” says Adam Gelb, the Council’s founder.

Gelb, who left Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project last August to begin recruiting members and donors, said the Council’s dual mission as a think tank and policy advocacy organization will give it a unique voice in the world of criminal justice. “There’s not any institution or organization right now that is a dedicated criminal justice organization” unaffiliated with any ideology and undiluted by partisan policy agendas, Gelb told The Crime Report....

The Council’s governing board of directors and advisory board of trustees will reflect the areas — many of them interconnected — that are now at the heart of current debates over justice reform: corrections officials and law enforcement managers, prosecutors and defense lawyers, violence interventionists and victim advocates, sentencing and reentry reformers, governors and the formerly incarcerated, and a host of others with current or former posts at all levels of government....

In the run-up to a briefing call today at 1 p.m. Eastern to announce the launch, the council already has begun its work.

A “federal priorities task force” headed by former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal held its inaugural meeting July 15 at the Washington offices of King & Spalding, where Council trustee Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general, is a partner. The Council’s first public event is a July 31 panel discussion in Washington on Thomas Abt’s new book about violence prevention.

Initial funding comes from patrons including Arnold Ventures, the Ford Foundation, the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, HBO, the Joyce Foundations, New York Community Trust, and the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation. Gelb has set a five-year goal of raising $25 million....

In the run-up to this month’s launch, Gelb said he canvassed a broad cross-section of the field to make sure his notion of such a Council was “the right idea at the right time.”

The federal policy task force serves as an example of a pragmatic mindset that will guide the Council’s work. It will ask, he said, “What can the federal government do that would be most helpful, and that is actionable and realistic in the near to medium term?”

Thanks to the rare show of bipartisanship surrounding criminal justice reform, Gelb said, it’s reasonable to dream big. With the reforms achieved so far, he added, “We’re just scratching the surface of what needs to be done and what is politically possible.”

Over at Arnold Ventures one can find an extended Q&A with Adam Gelb with more about the Council at this link. The piece carries the headline "It’s Big. It’s Ambitious. It’s Bipartisan. A New Organization Seeks to Propel Criminal Justice Reform."

The still developing website for the Council on Criminal Justice is available here, with discussions of "OUR MISSION" and "OUR WORK" and "OUR MEMBERS."

July 23, 2019 at 10:41 PM | Permalink


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