Justice System

CSG Midwest logo

An Ohio Supreme Court task force has given legislators 56 recommendations on how to improve administration of the death penalty. The comprehensive list of proposed changes covers nearly all aspects of the death penalty — from tighter controls on how evidence is collected and interrogations are conducted, to more funding for defense services, to new rules for post-...

Are you a state legislator from Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, North Carolina, and Washington?  If so, keep reading.  Your legislature may need to rewrite its definition of intellectual disability as it applies to the death penalty. 

In Hall v. Florida the Supreme Court held 5-4 that if a capital defendant’s IQ falls within the standard error measurement (SEM) for intellectually disabled, the defendant must be allowed to present additional evidence of intellectual disability.  Hall may require the above 9 states to rewrite their death penalty statutes because they have strict IQ cutoff scores of 70.

Exclusionary discipline (suspensions and expulsions) is contributing to the dropout crisis, particularly for those students at greatest risk. Research has shown that students who are suspended and expelled are less likely to graduate from high school—which comes with a big price tag to the nation.

Over the course of three years and hundreds of interviews, the Council of State Governments Justice Center has seen significant awareness to reform school discipline policies in a variety of school districts throughout the country. The map below offers just a glimpse of some of the impact made as schools work to keep students in the classroom while enforcing student safety and enabling all students to succeed.


The Supreme Court issued two unanimous opinions favoring state and local government in qualified immunity cases where the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed amicus briefs.

State and local government officials can be sued for money damages in their individual capacity if they violate a person’s constitutional rights. Qualified immunity protects government officials from such lawsuits where the law they violated isn’t “clearly established.” 

"Ban the box” is a nationwide effort to remove inquiries about criminal history from employer job applications. Supporters argue that the question should be deferred until later in the interview process and not used as an automatic bar to employment at the application stage. Ten states have enacted “ban the box” measures, including Illinois and Minnesota in the Midwest, according to the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit group that advocates for these restrictions on employers.

October 2013 ~ Stateline Midwest

It didn’t take long for Michigan legislators to take notice of a state Supreme Court study examining the efficacy of mental health courts. Less than a month after the study’s release, the House unanimously passed a four-bill package (HB 4694-4697) that statutorily creates mental health courts, thus paving the way for judicial circuits across the state to operate them, Mlive.com reports.

Today the Maryland House voted 82-56 to repeal the state's death penalty.  The measure, which is a top priority of Governor Martin O'Malley, was approved by the Senate last week. 

Supporters of the death penalty are expected to petition the bill to a referendum in the 2014 election.  Polls show that the death penalty is currently supported by a small majority of voters in the state. 

There are five men on death row in Maryland, and the legislation does not affect...

CSG Justice Center Training Curriculum Blends Online Learning, Live Activities

Research shows people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse issues enter local jails three to six times more often than the general population. That creates a challenge for the nation’s criminal courts.

“The cycling of individuals with mental illnesses through our criminal justice system is a critical issue with implications for public safety, health and expenditures, not to mention the lives of millions across the country,” said Ruby Qazilbash, associate deputy director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice.

State policymakers should take a data-driven approach to public safety policy, panelists said Sunday.

“Despite the run-up in justice spending, states aren’t getting much bang for their buck in reducing recidivism, specifically, or more generally improving public safety,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center for the States.