Voir Dire: Conversations from the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School-logo

Voir Dire: Conversations from the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School

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Harvard Law School's Criminal Justice Policy Program brings you a series of in-depth conversations with the people on the front lines reforming the criminal legal system. Hosted by Schuyler Daum.

Harvard Law School's Criminal Justice Policy Program brings you a series of in-depth conversations with the people on the front lines reforming the criminal legal system. Hosted by Schuyler Daum.
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Harvard Law School's Criminal Justice Policy Program brings you a series of in-depth conversations with the people on the front lines reforming the criminal legal system. Hosted by Schuyler Daum.




Punishment Without Crime with Alexandra Natapoff

Alexandra Natapoff talks about her new book, Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal. This book is absolutely essential for understanding the criminal system in America. We discuss the misdemeanor system’s role as a system of social control, revenue generation, racial oppression, etc.–but certainly not as a system of justice.


We Are All Criminals with Emily Baxter

Emily Baxter is the founder of We Are All Criminals. In this episode, we examine the ways in which privilege serves to define criminality. You can see more about the project at https://www.weareallcriminals.org/


The Biggest Book Ban in America with James Tager and Robert Pollock

Prison officials regularly block access to huge amounts of reading material for incarcerated people—and they do it in troublingly arbitrary ways. We discuss the written word’s ability to highlight and amplify the humanity of people in prison and the power of information. James Tager is the Deputy Director of Free Expression Research at PEN America and Robert Pollock is the Prison Writing Program Coordinator at PEN America.


Civil Litigation & Criminal Justice Reform with Anand Swaminathan

This week we talk to Anand Swaminathan, an attorney at Loevy and Loevy—a national firm that does civil rights work adjacent to the criminal legal system. We discuss the role of civil litigators in changing the criminal legal system.


Is Holistic Defense More Effective with Maya Buenaventura

Holistic defenders in the Bronx saved their clients 1.1 million days of incarceration and saved taxpayers $165 million on housing costs alone, relative to the traditional public defenders practicing in the same court house. This week, we talk to Maya Buenaventura of the Rand Corporation about the Rand Corporation’s study of the holistic defense model and its implications for public defense as a whole. Maya Buenaventura is an attorney and public policy researcher at the RAND Corporation.


People in Prison Are Getting Older with Darnell and Darryl Epps

By 2030, 1 in 3 people in prison will be 55 or older. We’ll discuss reform to address this trend and what the response to this trend tells us about the role of rehabilitation in the system. Darryl & Darnell Epps are brothers. Darnell is a student at Cornell who works for the Center on the Death Penalty. He recently published an op-ed in the NY Times entitled “The Prison ‘Old-Timers’ Who Gave Me Life: Aging inmates, some serving life sentences, helped me turn my life around. They could do...


Who Counts as a Victim with Alysia Santo

States provide money to people who have been victims of crime to reimburse them for the costs of their victimization—things like therapy, funerals, etc. But Alysia Santo, an investigative reporter for the Marshall Project, finds that only some people count as victims.


The Injustice of Sex Offense Registries with Emily Horowitz

We discuss the need to abolish sex offense registries with Emily Horowitz, a professor of sociology & criminal justice and the author of Protecting Our Kids? How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us Opens a New Window.


Police Violence against Women of Color with Andrea Ritchie

Andrea Ritchie is an attorney, organizer, and author of Invisible No More, a recent book about how Black women, Indigenous women, and women of color experience racial profiling, police brutality, and immigration enforcement .


What a Difference a DA Makes with Rahsaan Hall

Rahsaan Hall is the Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’s What A Difference a DA Makes Campaign. We discuss progressive prosecution and the ACLU’s campaign to hold prosecutors accountable through public awareness.


The Trial Penalty with Norman Reimer & Elisa Klein

Trials are supposed to be a fundamental constitutional right. But in today’s criminal legal system, only 3% of federal cases are resolved at trial. I discuss why the endangerment of the American trial is so problematic with Norman Reimer, Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Elisa Klein, Associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.


Transforming Juvenile Probation with Steve Bishop

383,000 young people were placed on formal or informal probation supervision in 2014. Stephen Bishop, of the Annie E Casey Foundation, thinks that supervision needs to look different. He argues something basic, but powerful: less probation. Putting fewer young people on probation will free up probation resources to turn away from surveillance-based supervision to more constructive and therapeutic probation. We talk about that vision.


Legalizing Cannabis with Shaleen Title

The criminalization of cannabis was a foundational pillar of the New Jim Crow. Now, the decriminalization of cannabis might just make a small number of white and privileged folks really rich. Shaleen Title is working to make sure that the burgeoning cannabis market in Massachusetts is one that accounts for and corrects that inequity.


Holistic Defense @ Arch City Defenders with Blake Strode

Arch City Defenders advocates for poor people and people of color who are exploited by the municipal court system in St. Louis. Its Director, Blake Strode, will discuss their aggressively holistic approach and the ways they use direct services and impact litigation to serve their community.


Paying to Avoid a Shoplifting Charge with John Rappaport

People caught shoplifting can pay $400-$500 to a private company in return for a promise not to call the police and a "restorative justice" class. What?? We discuss the pros and cons of such private adjudication schemes with John Rappaport, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Chicago.


A Progressive DA Campaign w/ Boston Candidate Shannon McAuliffe

Boston's Sept. 4 District Attorney elections for have the potential to change the criminal legal system in Boston and be a model for progressive change across the country. Shannon McAuliffe is running for District Attorney of Suffolk County, aka Boston. She is a former public defender and director at Roca, a program that disrupts the cycle of poverty and incarceration by helping high-risk young people transform their lives and avoid the criminal legal system. We talk about what a progressive...


Student Scholarship: Solitary Confinement w/ Mental Illness + Cause Lawyer Civil Disobedience

This is the second episode in which we feature student scholarship coming out of HLS. We interview Andrew Hanna about a recent Third Circuit case that could change the landscape of putting people with mental illness in solitary confinement. Then, we talk to Louis Fisher about cause lawyers who might engage in civil disobedience against legal ethics codes.


Student Scholarship--Bail & the Cost/Benefit of Incarceration

We reached out to all the criminal law professors at HLS and asked what student scholarship had really wowed them in the past year. In these special episodes, we bring you conversations with the Harvard Law students and recent alums whose work is helping to push criminal law scholarship forward. First, Anneke Dunbar Gronke talks about her recent piece in the Harvard Law Review on Commonwealth v. Brangan, a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case advancing bail reform. Then, Ben Gifford...


Restorative Justice with Fania Davis

Restorative justice is a paradigm-shifting approach to criminal justice. Fania Davis is a long-time social justice activist, a restorative justice scholar and professor, and a civil rights attorney with a Ph.D. in indigenous knowledge. She is also the Founder of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth. We'll discuss the restorative justice framework and what it actually looks like on the ground.


The Decline of the Death Penalty with Brandon Garrett

Brandon Garrett discusses the precipitous decline in death penalty sentences and executions and his new book, End of its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice.