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Effective Criminal Justice System

Supreme Court 2009-2010: Pro-Corporate, But Continued Trend Towards Deferral to State Authority

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ended its term with a bang with a ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago that state gun control regulations can be struck down by federal courts based on the Second Amendment. While the number and scale of blockbuster decisions was not so high this session, the singular impact of the Citizens United case earlier in the term unleashing unregulated corporate money on elections, combined with the dangerous implications of the Rent-A-Center, West v. Jackson arbitration decision, emphasizes the pro-corporate bias the Supreme Court has increasingly exercised in recent years.

Will Budget Deficits Result in Much-Needed Prison Reform?

With deficits mounting and a court order requiring the end of prison over-crowding, the California Assembly has passed a scaled-back version of a Senate prison reform plan that would reduce the state's bloated prison population by 27,000 and save $1 billion. However, the plan falls short of the needed $1.2 billion in cuts mandated by lawmakers' state budget agreement and fails to fully comply with a court order that California reduce its prison population by 43,000 inmates because of overcrowding and unconstitutionally-low levels of prisoner services.  

Privatization Update: Schools, Prisons, Mental Health -- and What States are Doing to Hold Contractors Accountable

Given the central role of private contractors in delivering public services, this Dispatch continues our series of Privatization Updates (see November's edition). Today we focus on current privatization debates in the education, prison and mental health sectors -- and what states are doing to increase accountability for contractors.