Commentary
May 10, 2024

New Laws Are Turning Police Into ‘Super Citizens’

By John Pfaff

A series of legislative and judicial efforts have removed police oversight from oversight boards and communities.

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A Potent Weapon For State Legislatures To Undermine Reform Prosecutors

February 24, 2024
Preemption is being used by red and blue states alike to roll back the power of reform prosecutors.
By John Pfaff

Florida Has Found A New Way To Thwart Reform Prosecutors

September 19, 2023
A plan in Florida to review its judicial circuits will disenfranchise Black voters, the most reliable political base for reform prosecutors.
By John Pfaff

Texas Takes Attacks on Austin to New Level With “Death Star” Law

August 23, 2023
This story was produced in partnership with Slate. On Sept. 1, a bill with the pithy title “An Act Relating...

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By John Pfaff

Aim Lower

July 6, 2023
Liberals have lost the Supreme Court for a generation. Their only hope is to seize state courts and launch a counterrevolution.
By James Forman and Lara Bazelon

The Fashionable Police Strategy That Is Just Mass Incarceration By Another Name

November 2, 2022
This story was published in partnership with Slate. Police departments, politicians, academics, and policymakers are again embracing focused deterrence, a...

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By Philip V. McHarris

Biden’s Focus on Marijuana Is Part of the Problem

October 21, 2022
This story was published in partnership with Slate. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden released a three-prong plan to fulfill a...

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By John Pfaff

Why Even Progressive Prosecutors Won’t Be Able to Keep Women Who Have Abortions Out of Jail

July 13, 2022
This article was published in partnership with Slate. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v....

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By John Pfaff

What the San Francisco DA Recall Really Tells Us. And What it Doesn’t.

June 9, 2022
The city's demographics mattered, as did Chesa Boudin's outsider status. But the politics of punishment are still too complicated to draw a neat conclusion.
By John Pfaff

Hochul’s Regressive Bail Rollbacks Untethered From Evidence

April 11, 2022
The bail reform debate turns on data from data from New York State’s Office of Court Administration. But that data cannot answer the question of whether reform works.
By John Pfaff

The Wrong Prosecutors Are Getting Recalled

March 25, 2022
Some prosecutors confront recalls over their policies, while others facing misconduct allegations could be re-elected.
By Lara Bazelon

The Real Reason Democrats Can’t Agree On How To Address Rising Crime

March 8, 2022
The criminal legal reform divide is between moderate mayors and progressive prosecutors.
By John Pfaff

Prescription Opioids Aren’t Driving the Overdose Crisis. Illicitly Manufactured Synthetic Opioids Are.

February 15, 2022
Myths about the role of prescription opioids have fueled decades of misguided policies. A new report from The Stanford-Lancet Commission reinforces those falsehoods.
By Alex Gertner

What an Analysis of 2,000 Shootings Tells Us About How to End Gun Violence

February 14, 2022
This story was published in partnership with Slate. New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ “Blueprint to End Gun Violence” received...

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By John Pfaff

Eric Adams’ “Blueprint To End Gun Violence” Is a Trojan Horse

January 28, 2022
The New York Mayor’s blueprint isn’t really an anti-violence plan—it's an assault on modest discovery, bail and juvenile justice reforms.
By MK Kaishian

The Manhattan DA Started a Panic with Supposedly Soft-on-Crime Policies. His Critics Are Wrong.

January 18, 2022
Like other progressive prosecutors, Alvin Bragg is trying to acknowledge that prison time doesn’t fight crime.
By John Pfaff

Give People Safe Drugs

November 24, 2021
Over 100,000 overdose deaths happened last year, driven by volatile and lethal fentanyl. The safe supply movement may have an answer for the crisis.
By Zachary Siegel

Crime Rates Rise And Fall. The Police Mostly Have Nothing To Do With It.

October 26, 2021
Policing expansions don't do much to reduce crime. Instead, they manage people and communities to serve the interests of the powerful.
By Aya Gruber

Why Our Fixation On The Murder Rate Is Killing Us

October 8, 2021
Deaths by suicide, drug overdose, and car accidents are all strongly influenced by our reliance on—and unwillingness to move away from—policing.
By John Pfaff