"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.

In 2008, more than 28,000 people were released from Ohio’s prisons. Three years later, close to one-third of them had returned. Most came back because they committed new crimes, others because of violations of their parole. It is a revolving door in Ohio and states across the country that lawmakers have been aggressively trying to close in order to improve public safety and save taxpayer dollars. These efforts appear to be paying off, according to a report released in September by The Council of State Governments Justice Center.

California voters sent mixed messages on two ballot measures related to criminal justice, passing a measure that modifies the state's harsh three-strikes law, while rejecting a measure to eliminate the state's seldom-used death penalty.

Next week, Californians will have the opportunity to revisit two major criminal justice issues previously enacted by ballot initiative: the death penalty and the three-strikes sentencing law. 

Proposition 36 will provide residents with an opportunity to modify the state's 18-year-old "three-strikes" law, which allows judges to impose a sentence of 25-years-to-life for offenders who commit a third felony, no matter how minor, if they have two...

The fields of medicine, education, child welfare, mental health, probation and corrections have all been influenced by evidence-based practices. In essence, evidence-based practices are a set of guidelines—based upon rigorous research, evaluations and meta-analysis—that have proved effective in improving decision making and outcomes. In the medical world, for example, evidence-based practice refers to the “conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”1 Only recently, however, has this approach spilled over into state courts in the form of providing decision-making tools for judges at the time of criminal sentencing.

This Act generally requires a court, when admonishing a jury against conversation, research,  or dissemination of information pursuant to the trial, to clearly explain, as part of the admonishment, that the prohibition applies to all forms of electronic and wireless communication. It requires the officer in charge of a jury to prevent any form of electronic or wireless communication. The Act makes violating such admonishment punishable as civil or criminal contempt of court.

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