tv Jewish Council for Public Affairs National Conference on Criminal Justice... CSPAN February 11, 2019 10:26pm-11:36pm EST
u.s. capitol. a final passage vote on a bill expected in the afternoon. the chamber also votes on whether to advance william barr's nomination as attorney general. a.m., the at 9:30 senate armed services committee looks at operation in the u.s. indo pacific command and u.s. forces korea. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. a 1979, c-span was created as public service by america's cable television companies. today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme eventsand public policy in washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> in this panel from the jewish council for public affairs conference, a look at criminal
justice reform. speakers included valentine dixon, who was wrongly convicted of murder and spent more than 20 years in jail. this is just over an hour. >> are we on? i wouldn't have said whatever, but i have two teenage boys and apparently that is what you say, whatever. now am paul fishman, partner at the law firm of arnold and porter. for seven and a half years, i was the united states attorney for the district of new jersey, appointed by president obama. my bosses were eric holder and loretta lynch. in 2017, i was fired by the current president, which worked out fine for me in the end.
so, the reason i think i was asked to moderate this panel this morning is that, for the seven and a half years that i was a united states attorney in new jersey, i and many of my colleagues around the country were very heavily involved in criminal justice reform in all sorts of different ways. some on the front end, some on the backend. we are going to talk about the difference between those issues this morning. i ended up working with lots of both nonprofit organizations, people in government who were similarly interested. my particular focus in the end was on prisoner reentry, which i will talk about in a minute. let me introduce the panelists first. robin, seated to my right is the director of the bail project and former director of the public defenders. -- the bronx public defenders, which is the best public defender program.
i know we are on television so please don't play that part of it. professor howard is a professor at georgetown who has done a huge amount of academic and, more importantly, practical work in prison reform and working with people who are incarcerated somennocent, and has done remarkable work with students at georgetown. he has got a great book that you probably should read. we are not selling it today but you should buy it. dixon,end is valentina who is here not just because he is the beneficiary of mark's work and mark's colleagues. alentino was incarcerated for period of time for a crime he didn't commit. over my left shoulder are two examples of the arts that valentino explored while he was in prison and that, in many ways, saved him. we will talk about that, too.
because this is the jewish council on public affairs, and melanie, who i'm desperately afraid of, invited us to talk -- before that, how may people are involved formally in organizations working on criminal justice reform? in any way? okay. folks have those real familiarity with the criminal justice system and the eithert it works, because you work in the system or because you are incredibly smart? who knows a lot about the criminal justice system? ok. let me talk about this for a second. i was u.s. attorney in new jersey which is the chief federal law enforcement officer in that district.
i am an emissary of the department of justice and report directly to the attorney general of the united states. i worked with lawyers whose job was mostly to defend the united totes in court and represent the united states through criminal prosecutions. thatme as a surprise people were getting involved in criminal justice reform. a fellowi was asked by comect of mine if i would rj'srlando to the un biennial and talk about whether there was a line between my involvement as a kid in high school in the jersey temple gouth and where i lived growin
up, whether there was a line between that and my public service. i haven't thought about it that way at all. as i prepared to give that speech, i was wrestling with the ideas and trying to figure out that line. like every prosecutor, we have lls, justice, justice shalt thou pursue. other people have quotes from and aobout mercy and justice mighty streams. as i prepared to give that speech, two things happened to me that were quite remarkable. the weekend before the speech, my older son celebrated his permits for. barmitzvah.but
isaacebrates the story of . what my son talked about was the fact that abraham, when told by god he would, destroy sodom begs for the forgiveness of people he does not know. whenn's take was, abraham being tested as a leader, chose to stand up for those who, some of whom may have been sex -- falsely accused. innocent.ave been in addition to that, i want to hear valentino's take in a m barmitzvah project
was to go to these prisons and teach them how to use cell phones and technology. two days later, president obama came to newark to talk about president -- prisoner reentry. there with a background just like valentino's. those two things helped me figure out the principles of judaism and our need to do better, our need to help others. that was a seminal moment for me. on thei'm putting her spot, but i would like to hear, to a certain extent -- tell everybody a little about your work and the extent to which you believe that what you are doing, and whatever principles you have
animate your emotional core. >> when i decided to go to law school, i knew when i was going that i was going to do social justice work. i had been raised in the tradition. i have been raised to think about justice and equality and equity and how when you don't speak in the face of injustice, you are complicit. i wasn't sure i would be doing work as a public defender. when i became a public defender, i spent three decades of my career in new york city. i knew i was going to use this incredibly valuable and expensive degree from law school, that i wanted to use it for good and for people who
needed it, not for people in po wer. i've since become a public defender. that was proven by my work in the women's correctional facility in new york. i worked with women for many years. i heard their stories and listened to their perspectives on what the criminal justice system had done to them and their communities. it drove me to want to become a public defender. you can be a public defender for one day and look around at the criminal court in new york city. anybody can recognize that what passes for justice in this country is a disgrace. you can be in the court for one day to look for who is being targeted by the criminal justice system. these are low income communities, and particularly communities of color.
you can be in the criminal justice system for one day and see the type of inhumanity, degradation, and humiliation heaped upon these communities, the accused in the system. you have two choices. you can quite a -- quit and say, i don't want any part of this, or you can stand and fight back. that is what led me to trying to be a public defender. oft more holistic model public defense. paul: mark?? everythingt to echo that robin said. let me give my history, a summary of it. my father is jewish. i am half jewish. he was very active.
he led a movement at wright university to integrate it. it was all white at the time. he was threatened with expulsion but went on and succeeded. i heard those stories and i was envious. i'm born in 1971. i didn't feel like there was a cause. it wasn't as clear or as visible as it was in my father's generation. what i came to realize is that mass incarceration is my civil rights movement, it's our civil rights movement. i discovered, through some twists and turns -- i didn't do it right away. i got my phd. i was a specialist in european politics. i became a professor at georgetown.
french, german. i had a personal side story. a connection to a friend, who is wereh, who, when we seniors in high school, we went to lovey-dovey preschool, all the way through high school. paul: is that really what it was called? marc: it is really what it is called. weregh school, his parents brutally murdered. by that summer, he was in wascuffs and later he convicted and sent away for life. i believe firmly that marty was innocent. there wasn't much hope for people who were wrongfully convicted. we joke about it in our own way, artyay marc went to jail, m
went to jail. i made him a promise that i would never give up fighting for him. i'm in the crazy decision as a tenured full professor that i would go to law school to get marty out of prison. it was a happy ending to his ordeal. just before i started law school, marty was exonerated. he served almost 18 years in prison. it is a horror story, except that marty has emerged and is doing great things. to me, my eyes had been opened to injustice and i could not close them again. i went to law school and specialized in criminal law. i founded the criminal justice initiative. i do a lot of work on exonerations, but even more work of education in prisons.
i'm deeply committed to everything expressed in that beautiful poem that was performed earlier. this is the embodiment of my life. it is the full circle with my father. i will let valentino tell his story. we have a close connection as well. valentino: my name is valentino dixon. i spent 27 years in prison for a crime i didn't commit. i was arrested on my mother's birthday. i was at a public place and is shooting occurred. iran to my car and -- i ran to my car and drove away. i was pulled over and taken in for questioning. eyewitnesseseight cleared me of the crime. the person who committed the crime came forward and confessed to the police. all of those witnesses and the person who confessed were
disregarded. the police felt it would be a public embarrassment to do the right thing. i lingered in prison. i didn't have money to hire an attorney. they hired a public offender. this public defender did not call any of the witnesses or the confessor. did not ask for a trial by jury. i was sentenced and given 37 years to life. in prison, i turned to drawing. i started drawing. knowing the system would not ccept the evidence that -- i thought maybe my drawing would get me out of prison in some weird type of way. my friend said, do you think you could draw my favorite golf course?
he brought in a picture of 12-hole,ational, the bigger version. i drew the golf course, thought that would be the end. a couple other guys said you need to draw more. i said, i'm from the hood, i'm a black guy, i don't golf. a week later, something went off inside my head. you have drawn everything you can drop. go for golf courses. i started drawing them everyday. whenever i would put my mind into something, i go full-court pressure, straight ahead. six months later, i have amassed maybe 80 golf courses. i decide to take two pictures and send them to the golf digest
and write a letter about my predicament. the write rmatt -- the writer, matt adler, gets involved. he comes to visit me and published a four-page story in 2012. the golf channel came on board and did a documentary. i lingered in prison for another four or five years before marty and marc got involved and got me out. i have been out four months and 22 days. [applause] even though my predicament or circumstance or tragedy is surrounded around wrongful conviction, the evidence was clear, the witnesses cleared me. the tested me to see if i had fired a firearm after they arrested me. they said, if you fired a gun, we will know. everything will come back positive.
they never revealed the results, but his students were able to get the d.a. in the case to get them to admit that the results came back negative but they never turned them over. that was one of the main reasons why i was exonerated. i'm here today because new york harshest,suome of the accepted laws in the country. i have friends who were sentenced to 20 years to life and they are 45 years in. the parole board refuses to release them, even after they have rehabilitated themselves and acquired college degrees, et cetera. they have done everything they can do to show they have made progress in changing as a person. other examples, a guy is a three-striker, he committs two
burglaries. in new york state, he gets 50 years to life. i knew a guy named john mckenzie. manparole board denied a 10 times and he committed suicide. he couldn't take it anymore. we need to look at the sentencing guidelines and try to make them more reasonable instead of giving out death sentences. prison reform and sentencing together. in that is one of the issues we need to focus on. the reason we have 2.5 million prisoners in american prisons doing too people are much time and not being released. paul: among the four of us, we identified 12 pressure points in the criminal justice system that
we could talk about for days. we will focus on the ones here that have some particular expertise, but i don't mean to do that for others. it is policing. e led the -- there are th policing issues. who gets prosecuted for what? prosecutorial discretion at the state and federal levels. there is bail, which is robin's expertise. then the one that valentino identified, who do you get as your lawyer? how do you get a lawyer? whether the trial system is fair, whether the sentencing system is fair, whether it is consistent and makes sense, and when yo uget out.
and then, how people in society treat you and the potential consequences of conviction. robin: to say nothing of the 5 million people under surveillance and supervision with parole in the country. paul: there are an array of issues and there are problems at every level. i did that work for 22 of the 35 years i have been practicing law. i know a lot of people of extraordinary talent with the right judgment to do that work. my colleagues are suggesting there are not people like that in the justice system. there is a lot to talk about. here is the question that i have. you, partlyed because you have the focus to do art 10 hours a day.
what about the guys you were with who didn't have art? and get out without art? from golf digest magazine who have helped them? what is it like for those guys that you know, the opportunities you have that they don't? valentino: i was blessed to not only have the talent but a family-based that supported me. i was a rare breed. a lot of guys didn't have any support base. they didn't make the change that i made. there were no real programs inside that would allow them to make the change. i took my willpower to another level. another person may need an educated person to be there to give the skill sor the --
skills or the guidance that they need to survive. even to have reentry programs to reintegrate into society. paul: talk about what you have been doing. as a systemic issue, what do we as a society need to do so when those people get out, and 95% of them will get out, 95% of people in prison will come out. they'll be my neighbor or your neighbor, or somebody's neighbor. they will need help to reestablish themselves. the longer you are away, the harder it is. robin: the -- marc: the answer is simple. takes a mind shift. we need to turn prison into productive sites of rehabilitation. programming,e
diverse programming, we need to make prisons into places where people are learning, growing, evolving, and transforming his people. i have been doing it myself the last five years, three days per week. whove been around people are extraordinary, even though they might have been a great dropouts. have read books until their 20's or 30's, but they discovered something. my of the things i tell students is that education and intelligence are separate concepts. once they age out of that phase that other parents know, particularly young boys go through. they are not thinking about cause and effect, they are
acting on impulse control, influenced by the pressure, but if you can take them out of that phase -- i teach a group of students of all ages at a jail. they will not go back to a life of crime. they made it trapped by the probation system. in our pivot system, we have some rain arrested on the metro, wearing a three-piece suit. he has a business idea for fashion for large men. he is a great guy. he gets profiled. they think he has stair evasion. they look him up. he has a metro card. they look him up and see he has failure to appear for a warrant when he was incarcerated. now he has been in for three weeks. this is one example. there are some of traps for people. if we set up a system, they say,
if you violate the laws of our society, you will be separated. it will be done in a humane way. that is a major change because prisons are such an inhumane place. we will create a productive environment, an incentive structure so that you want to i mprove. we are people trying to sneak into our classes at the jail. it is technically illegal conduct, but it is for a good reason. we have a complete cultural shift at the d.c. jail right now. people are talking about their classes, they are talking about learning, and books. if they are complaining, it is not about the food, but for more dictionaries to complete their writing assignment. i know that there will be pushed back. they committed a crime, it shouldn't be a country club. but as you said, 95% of people
are coming out. do you want the person who will be your neighbor to be somebody who is involved? who has taken college classes and has vocational training? or do you want somebody who sat for years or decades who was sat in a cage and poked in the eye? paul: that is a policy issue, but i know one of the goals of this conference was to give people things to do. advocacy on that issue is one. if you want to do something with an immediate practical effect, talk to marc. find places you can go and volunteer. different things will move different people. if it moves you to help people they getntino, whether out because they didn't do it or because they have aged out, if
you want to help people like that, there are ways to do that around the country. finish thent to backend of the project first. you alluded to the consequences of supervision and responsibilities for people who come out with a problem -- if they come out having been convicted and served their time, what does that look like on the backend? robin: collateral consequences of even minor convictions are a enormous and can have devastating lifelong consequences. it can result in a permanent record that prevents you from getting a job. you can lose your children. you may lose your immigration status. you can lose your housing. you may lose financial aid and not be able to go to college. the collateral consequences are
deep and wide, not just for the individual who is charged, but for his or her family and children and community. i want to take a moment to challenge us a little bit, when we think about a criminal legal system that has grown the past 30 years the way that it has, exponentially, through the lens of punishment and isolation. i want you to try to reimagine what a system could look like that didn't even go to the lens of isolation and punishment. i'm not sure that the answer is to make prison more humane. i think the answer is, we don't need prisons, we don't need all of those jails, we don't need to isolate and punish. we need to shift our lens entirely around how we see each other. rather than isolate and punish, shift our lens to what do you
need and how can i help and what can we do and how can you heal communities that have been devastated by this enormous apparatus that we have built over several decades? tinker around the edges to say could we make this more humane or that. we have to get at the fundamental core art the rot of our criminal legal system. structural racism and economic inequality, period. until we grapple with that and shift our lens around that, we will tinker around the edges for far too long. paul: that is a widely shared view. not as widely shared as you would like, but we have to be careful. if we shoot too far, there is the risk that we won't get enough done.
i'm not suggesting we don't do -- have the conversation that you are having, but let's talk about the bail side. i believe firmly in what you said. by the way, i would not characterize what you are doing as tinkering. it is enormously -- in enormously meaningful on bail reform. o.lentino made the point, to there are more than 2 million people in prison in the united states. 200,000 of those are in federal prison. we just had the first step back. the first major criminal justice reform step in a long time. it is accurately described as the first step. how they got to college first step is a crazy acronym. bail.rnia just past
reform. new jersey just passed bail reform. what is going on and what is good? robin: first of all, does everybody know what bail is? it is an old concept. the theory was that if you set cash bail in the amount of money that somebody could pay, that would create an incentive to come to court so that they wouldn't flee. that was the purpose. paul: if you go back 400 years, it was rich people putting up money to keep family members home before they got processed. robin: low income communities and communities of color have been trying to raise money for loved ones as long as bail has existed. over the get tough on crime
decades, bail became the lever that allow huge numbers of people to come into the criminal legal system, forcing most people to plead guilty when they didn't have enough money to pay bail. two-tiered system of justice. two people charged with us identical offense, if you have enough money, you can fight on the streets where you will get better results. if you don't have enough money in your bank account, which is the overwhelming majority of people in our statewide criminal system, you will stay in a jail cell. you are 30% more likely to plead guilty, 40% more likely to get a jail sentence. if you are black or brown, you are two times more likely to get stuck in that jail cell without a conviction than your white counterpart.
500,000 people every night are sleeping in jail cells in this country as they don't have enough money to pay bail. bail is put on someone before they are convicted of anything. that's the impact. in our state system, 12 million people are churning through our local courts in this country and jails. basis, we think it is about 2.5 million people who spend time in jail cells, who haven't been convicted, because they don't have enough money to pay bail. when i was taking about what i wanted to do as a public defender, to me it seemed that this was a critical touch point. if you could get people out of jail early on, you know that their life outcomes are better, collateral consequences are reduced, case outcomes are
better, families won't be the same. they can be wrapped in the presumption of innocence. is not only supposed to apply if you are white. it is supposed to apply regardless of your race, your economic status, or your background. the big question is what if you used philanthropic dollars to pay bail? would people come back to court? david,, with my husband i cofounded something called the -- we started paying bail in the b ronx for people who couldn't afford it. we were not sure what would happen. it was stunning to watch over a decade of data that 95% of our clients came back for every court appearance. over half the cases got dismissed once bail got paid.
only a fraction of people were ever given a jail sentence. and you're out, court prosecutors will engage in community sentencing, not in ot incarceration sentences. it is not just that everybody should be entitled to the same production of innocence, and everybody should be entitled to fight their case, but that also, you will avoid collateral consequences, you will allow people to return to their homes, to their jobs. we followed them for 10 years and last year we launched the bail project. our goal over the next five years is to pay bail with philanthropic dollars for people who can't afford it for over sites0 people in 25
across america. aboutear, we bailed out 4000 low-income residents across the country. we are seeing the same thing. we're watching cases get dismissed. -incarceratory sentences. it is not tinkering. thing in the criminal justice system that no longer has a lever to force you to plead guilty. paul: following up on what marc said, if you're you and your husband, you can start a philanthropic organization. most people cannot do that. i'm sure that he would be grateful if they contributed. we will get back to bail reform. what can people in this room, or their friends, colleagues,
neighbors do to work on that kind of project? robin: there are a lot of things you can do. we are trying to marry direct services with paying bail and helping create systemic change. you can be involved in a court watch program in your community. go to court. watch what judges do, watch what prosecutors do. most of us just vote down one line and we don't know who we are voting for. their our community bail funds around this country. support them. educate yourselves, get involved. there are lots of ways to do that. they'll reform is happening across the country. it's happening at a slow pace. maybe that is appropriate. maybe, when you're thinking about envisioning a new system,
what does it look like after cash bail? if you eradicate the system tomorrow, what should that system look like? what should that look like? in the meantime, there are people sitting in jail cells and they have to get out. systemic reform in new jersey certainly did take place. california passed sb-10. there are deep problems with the bill. california has returned to its previous state. bail reform is still a conversation there. lots of jurisdictions around this country get involved in that. this will drive lots of things in systems and will help people ensnared in that. system wrestles with
two questions. one that robin identified, is the person likely to come back? that is the point of bail in its original form. we want to make sure they show up for their court dates. to do that, judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, the people who interview them before that, are all trying to make a back of the envelope assessment of whether these people are likely to show up or not. twe talk about how difficult tht assessment is. the second question is, the federal system has been this way since 1984. the second question is whether this person poses a danger. it might be someone who might do something else. as we know from the headlines,
sometimes, people out on bail do terrible things. the system doesn't have a lot of tolerance for that. nobody wants to be the judge who decided to let somebody out who hurt somebody else. those we deal with questions? marc: that is the fear-based thinking that permeates the incredible -- the entire criminal justice system. this is why parole commission's, particularly when there is a governor involved, are so afraid of letting someone out. what if it's one in 1000? that might come back to haunt me. paul: we saw it in the dukakis campaign. marc: the ghost of willie horton haunts all american judicial politics.
what needs to happen would be to depoliticize that. judges make decisions. some.to sit in on to .ody has a right front of the judge and make the case. i spoke to a judge after and he said, what happens if one of the ones you let out commits a rime? crime? that's a separate process and i'm insulated from that. we need to insulate the judicial decision-making from that. there is so much that drives that. media and tv, this obsession with crime that people have that makes the fear-based thinking dominate. we need a paradigm shift.
i want to respond to a comment that robin made earlier. i have deep respect and admiration and i share the view that we ideally shouldn't need prisons. the reality is that we have them in spades. if we sit around waiting for them to go away, we'd be waiting a long time. i'm committed to doing the work on the backend that robin is doing on the frontend, working with people so that they change, and recognizing that they changed and opening the door to let them out. i'm doing everything possible to get people out and have society prepared to accept them, to welcome and embrace them. that's critical. of no dream that we share
longer needing prisons at all. the reality is they are so vast and so prominent that we need to attenuate so that we have a more humane society. to toino: i would like appeal to congress. with,y that i grew up none of my childhood friends escaped prison. all of them at some time went to prison, whether a small offense or serious. where i grew up, it was a violent, drug-infested neighborhood. buffalo, new york. no jobs visible. hopelessness. people act out when a don't have anything or there is no hope. often, this leads them to prison.
martin luther king said it best. he said, it takes money to stop the poverty,ent, bad schooling, to give people jobs. give people jobs, and you'll see a decline in criminal activity. people will mess up and make that decisions. and to speak to prosecutors judges. all of us are human beings, but to have a disregard for a certain class of people or nationality or culture is not right. everybody deserves the same care and compassion that the next class receives. it's a human rights issue. it's also a constitutional rights issue and a civil issue.
in comparison to other countries like norway, norway has a 20% comparedte of to our 77%. why? because their prisoners are treated more humanely. better treatment. they focus on rehabilitation. paul: but me ask you a question and i will come back to you. wen i was in a new jersey started a federal reentry court for folks who were kind back to new jersey. we have one in trenton and camden. they would show up to court every two weeks, meet with a judge, public defender, probation officer. the question the judge starts every session with is, what do you need? everybody recognizes in the
system that if you can't get a job, you're done. if you can't support yourself in some way, that's a problem. the folks you know, who childhood friends, what are the things the system could do -- congress could act, but let's not hold out hope for that at the moment. the government may not even be open on friday. the question is, what does a program look like for a guy like time, in ave his relatively productive way, what would it look like? valentino: there are thousands of obstacles for a felon coming out of prison. thereworote a book that
are 10,000 obstacles. i will narrow it down to a couple hundred. let's be reasonable. i knew this while i was there. i paid attention to the guys coming back. like, you left a couple years ago, now you're back. what's the reason? it was always based on, there's no jobs. the jobs that are available, a guy can't survive off $250 per week. what's he do? he resorts back to his old ways. i may have to knock somebody upside the head to get my next meal. paul: there are often guys who they used to run with that are welcoming them back in a way that we don't. core ofo: that's the the problem of mass incarceration. people need to be trained, educated.
for example, when i was arrested in 1991, i want to attica in 1992. for small in college business. the following year, the governor took it. i had to resort to ordering books and reading self-help books. there are guys who would go to college inside prison, and this would change their mentality tremendously. paul: robin? years,over the past 25 beenf our jail growth has exclusively because of bail. it has been holding people in jail cells because they cannot pay bail. annually, as a
society, $14 billion per year to hold people in jail cells who haven't been convicted of a crime, on cash bail. when we talk about healing communities, people say we don't have the money to do that. i want to say, you could take the $14 billion to hold people in jail cells that haven't been convicted and reinvest it into communities and let the community decide what that help looks like. the money is there, we are just spending it in different ways. paul: a quick story and then i will open it to the floor. the1 12 years before i was the state attorney, i spent 14 years with the department of justice, than i was in private practice. had clientsears, i who were prosecuted, acquitted,
convicted, who went to jail. i had a client who was an orthodox jew, convicted of tax evasion. they send people further away because there are not federal prisons everywhere and they try to separate people from the folks with whom they were running before, or other defendants with whom they were convicted. my client was in a level one facility. because he was a man of means, his wife an dkids would come to visit him with great frequency. his wife would be sitting in the waiting area talking to the other wives. she would say, what is your husband here for? he was convicted of x, y, z, often drug dealing or some offense like that. she would say, when was the last time you were here? she would say, i've never been.
i live in upstate new york, i have three kids, two jobs, it is a long way from home and its expensive. what happens to that family? my client, after two yeras in prison, came home to a wife and family and a nice house. he had the means to resume a relatively normal life, but even him, -- american express canceled his card. that's not a big deal compared to what other people go through, but if a guy like that can't get an american express card, how is a guy like valentino supposed to get access to banking to open a checking account? it becomes hard to engage in the basic necessities of life. the upshot is, my former client heard about my reentry court. he comes every two weeks. he is an orthodox jewish guy in
his 50's who has made a connection with the people who were in the federal prison. he understands the minimal obstacles that he faces and what it is like for people who don't look like him or come fro -- or come from his background. i would like to hear some questions. i want to say one thing because i'm afraid everybody will leave and get caught in the same trap. the fear of public safety. everybody always talks about what the person charged with the scary thing? there are people sometimes who do scary things. remember, that's an accusation, not a conviction. we often forget. we legislate around the exceptions? think about this problem, this constant law and order -- like the television show, which did more harm to this country and
criminal justice than anything else on television, but to really think carefully about any to legislatehan around the exception. 00 people got bailed out and two did something, do we stop doing our work? most of the time it will go right. hold onto that. the second point about public safety, it will drive you crazy. we talk of a public safety as if those 12 million people being shoveled through our system are not part of the public. thealk about risk, as if millions of people coming from communities of color are not at risk of being put in prison. the data is 100% clear.
spending time in jail makes you more likely to commit another crime when you come out than if you had been free all along. when people talk about risk of public safety, that has to include everybody. their families, their children, and their communities and the risk to them. if you talk of a risk assessment about thewant to talk risk to the person accused and in the system. what is the risk to his and her damily, and employer,, an community. when we talk about risk to public safety, hold on to your hat and stay grounded in the principles we believe in. equal justice under the law, the presumption of innocence, and humanity. not isolation or punishment. what do you need and what can we
do? >> please ask a question. seconds perghly 45 question. >> i am the crc director in cleveland. we are working on bail reform. we have been glued to the serial season which last featured our city. one of the things that we heard was the decision to charge, period. what that does for people who are innocent. what lovers is, around the district attorney's office, or local policies, what is possible there? often the decision to charge sets off a chain reaction that is harmful for folks. really for you. robin: the system has a complete
power imbalance. the power is really out of whack and sits in the hands of the prosecutors more than anybody else. that is what mandatory sentencing did. they need to be held accountable also. there are people around the country doing good reform work around prosecutorial accountability. support them. what does it mean to be a prosecutor and what does it mean to seek justice. you're quite right that the power imbalance really does rest with prosecutors. there needs to be accountability there. paul: i was in the federal system. the federal system in the state system are different. in the u.s. attorney's office, where i worked, before someone
gets charged, it is generally a situation where there has been a relatively long-term, in-depth investigation. i will use the mueller investigation as an example since everyone is paying attention. a grand jury is impaneled. agents are interviewing and looking at witnesses. by the time that the case gets to a place where the charging decision has to be made, there is a lot of stuff that has gone on. announcing mistakes don't happen, but there are lots of opportunities for the defense to come in and argue for their client. it is a decision that is made in a more deliberative fashion. what happens in cases, and in valentino's, is an example of that. a shooting occurs outside. the cops respond. two guys get into a fight outside a bar. the cops respond.
somebody robs a bank. the cops respond and somebody gets arrested based on whatever information the cops are able to gather at that moment. two can't spend a week or investigating if they have potential subjects right there. the police make a decision, that case gets presented to a prosecutor. in an in complete fashion, with certain -- in an incomplete fashion, with certain amounts of evidence collected, other evidence that collected. the decision gets made in a cauldron in some ways. what has to happen and it doesn't happen enough in a system with defense lawyers who are overburdened -- i recommend you watch a documentary on hbo called gideon's army. clarence gideon was the person who litigated to supreme court
on whether he should have the constitutional right to litigate a case from the mid-1960's. it was handled by what wais now my law firm. i wasn't there then. about three public defenders in the south and the resources they have. like thathat people have enough bandwidth to have meaningful conversations with prosecutors at the charging stage is not right. one issue in the system we haven't talked about is how do we adequately resource that fund at that part of the proceeding? i'm not apologizing for the charging decisions that get made. some are wrong and some are bad, but the system in which they take place is complicated and hard. incentives in particular places for
prosecutors to charge in certain ways. the system gives those incentives. there is a political overlay to that. ti's not -- it's not just the one guy who comes out. are electedorney's and people say they are not hard enough on people. willing the paradigm shift also have a conversation about what it means to have strong law enforcement at the prosecutorial level. robin: we decided to criminalize race, poverty, homelessness, immigration. becauseem is overloaded the systems we have made about who and what we are criminalizing. yo ucould decriminalize those things. you could look at drugs alone and close half the jails in the country. if you thought about it that way, the systems would not be so overloaded and there would be resources to make sure that the
people who needs to be prosecuted have actual lawyers. marc: one thing to make clear, 90% of crimes are prosecuted at the state level. there is a public fascination with congress and the federal level, with the mueller investigation, but that's not where federal awareness takes place. it's at the state level where the action takes place. the one common factor in all of them is that, even though there is this myth, and law and order reinforces this every day. i tell my students do not watch , or you will never enjoy my class again. it has these equal forces, the forces of good for the state and
trying to defend the bad people -- and they go to trial. only 5% of people go to trial. there is a judge. the reality is that justice happens in the prosecutor's office. all the incentives are pushing in the other direction, toward conviction for longer times and ,oward denying adequate defense denying information that is beneficial to the defense. we discovered, our students, three 21-year-old students admitting to something he had done 20 years earlier. just talking about inner routine way. yet it is commonplace, it happens every day, it is an outrage.
[indiscernible] answeright be an obvious to this but why is the military not an option for prisoners coming out of prison to go that route? >> after conviction she's referring to why they are not allowed to -- >> on the way in, before he came i said that should be an option. a lot of guys did not have the discipline in there and they slept most of the time or just went to the prison yard and wasted most of the day. if he had that military presence or the option to start training on you were in their, i know that the military, from what i teaches a young man how to be a man. gooddefinitely would be a
solution at some point. >> there has been resistance for a long time in our society to having people with convictions at all.the military so we visit that to achieve that, and then there are certain people -- valentino is a great guy. >> i am in good shape, though. >> you look great. so we are out of time. if you have questions or suggestions, we will stay at least until we get 200 to stay. so come up and chat with us. i want to thank my co-panelists today. they have been totally fabulous, so thank you. [applause] >> washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you.
coming up tuesday morning, connecticut democratic congressman jim himes joins us to talk about the war power act and government funding deadline. then we will discuss immigration and border security with the center for immigration studies mark gregorian. and a discussion about the state withe a hospital care correspondent donovan slack. be sure to watch washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern, tuesday morning. join the discussion. tuesday on the c-span networks at 11:00 a.m. israel, we are live from dearborn, michigan with former congressman john dingell, who died last thursday at 92 years of age. his casket arrives at the u.s. capitol at: 40 5 p.m.. on c-span2, the u.s. senate
continues legislation on public lands and natural resources management. the chamber also both of whether to advance the nomination of the attorney general. c-span3, the.m. on senate armed services committee looks at operations in the u.s. indo pacific command and u.s. forces korea. >> there are nearly 100 new members of the house of representatives this year. ohio, west virginia, maryland, mississippi, and washington are private the states it added one new member. representative anthony gonzalez was a football star at ohio the indiana colts drafted him in 2007. after injuries cut short his professional football career, he earned his mba at stanford business school. he is the first latino elected to ohio's congressional
delegation. representative carol miller served over a decade in the state house before for -- voters in virginia elected her to congress. politics runs in her family. she is the daughter of former congressman samuel divine. congressman michael guest was a local prosecutor in mississippi for nearly 25 years. the last decade as district attorney before his election to the house. he is also a sunday school teacher at his local baptist church. representative dave trott and his brother opened a small liquor store in delaware in the early 1990's. the company eventually moved its headquarters to maryland and has expanded to become the largest independent fine wine retailer in the country. eighth district elected a pediatrician and the only female doctor in congress. you congress, new leaders. watch it a