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Please join us for a discussion with Megan Stevenson, an economist from the University of Virginia School of Law, to learn about her innovative research on bail and pretrial detention. Our current system is based on the idea that the safety benefits outweigh the harm that it inflicts. But does it keep us safe? Does bail increase the likelihood that people show up in court? The results may surprise you. 

Long-Term Exposure to Neighborhood Policing and the Racial/Ethnic Gap in High School Graduation

Researchers are increasingly exploring the consequences of policing for the educational outcomes of minority youth. This new study by Joscha Legewie and Nino José Cricco contributes to this literature by asking three questions. What are the racial/ethnic disparities in long-term exposure to neighborhood policing? How does this exposure affect high school graduation? How much of the ethnoracial gap would remain if neighborhood policing was equalized?

Myths abound about what public safety is and how it is achieved. These myths have been the basis of efforts toward mass incarceration, aided in the destruction of lives and communities, and fed huge racial disparities all the while, research shows, making the public less safe. Through discussions about both lived experience and innovative research, we hope to guide policymakers, practitioners, advocates, researchers, and community members in envisioning new practices, procedures, and policies that will bring about safe and thriving communities for all. Please join us!


"Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Social Costs of Pretrial Electronic Monitoring in San Francisco," a new paper by Sandra Susan Smith & Cierra Robson, examines the harms of pretrial electronic monitoring.


Arnold Ventures has published a new discussion paper by Sandra Susan Smith that looks at the evidence that pretrial release does not increase crime and actually increases public safety.


Chris Winship's chapter in The New Pragmatist Sociology looks at the partnership between Boston police and Black clergy during a period of rising gun violence in Boston.


Felix Owusu examines the Suffolk County DA misdemeanor declination and diversion policy which significantly reduced prosecution rates with no increase in recidivism.


"How the Shift Toward Presumptive Nonprosecution of Misdemeanor Offenses Affects Racial Disparities in Current and Future Penal System Outcomes."


Employers would be more willing to hire people with criminal convictions under certain conditions, says research by Will Dobbie.


New policy brief by Chris Herring and Sandra Susan Smith hopes to inform policies aimed at increasing employment opportunities for justice-involved individuals.


Rob Sampson argues that a neighborhood’s well-being depends  on the conditions of neighborhoods that its residents visit and are visited by.


Isabella Jorgensen and Sandra Susan Smith provide key considerations for jurisdictions interested in implementing bail reforms.


This policy brief  highlights some promising paths forward for decriminalization that also lead to reductions in racial disparities. 

News and Commentary

San Francisco has fewer pretrial detainees in jail. But at what cost?
HKS Policy Topic, September 16, 2022
Featured: Sandra Susan Smith and Cierra Robson

‘My emancipation proclamation’: the man fighting to free millions from their criminal records
The Guardian, September 14, 2022
Quoted: Sandra Susan Smith

Sandra Susan Smith aims to eradicate disparities in criminal courts
HKS Magazine, Summer 2022
Featured: Sandra Susan Smith

Will ongoing gun violence bring a stop-and-frisk resurgence to Philly? It wouldn’t be the first time
WHYY, July 15, 2022
Featured: Khalil Gibran Muhammad

It’s time for Massachusetts to eliminate cash bail
CommonWealth, April 30, 2022
Commentary by Isabella Jorgensen and Sandra Susan Smith

More News and Commentary

Katy was previously staff attorney at the HLS Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice,  where she cultivated expertise in how criminal law and the criminal legal system are affected by systemic racism, institutional racism, and implicit bias. One of her essential roles at the Houston Institute was to develop rooted relationships with people and organizations directly affected by criminalization, racism, and incarceration.

Crime, Punishment, and Violence Course Guide

Looking for a Harvard course on crime and punishment? The Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management compiles an annual course guide as an introduction to the wide variety of Harvard courses that may be relevant to students interested in criminal legal system reform and policy.

The Roundtable brings together leaders from across the Commonwealth, including community organizers, social/racial justice organizers, academics/researchers, policymakers, criminal legal system agency heads, and judges. The overall goal of the Roundtable is to profoundly influence future policies, practices, and procedures in Massachusetts that will help to eradicate sources of racial inequities and resulting disparities in the courts. 

We are excited to announce the 2022 recipients of Program in Criminal Justice Graduate Student Research Grants. The award process was open to PhD candidates from any of the units on Harvard’s campus conducting research to address questions related to the criminal legal system. The grantees are Nicolette Bardele, DeAnza Cook and Chika Okafor.

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