Smart on Crime Explainers

In this Smart on Crime Explainers series, the Center for American Progress will break down some of the most current issues in criminal justice reform, explain their importance, point to additional trusted sources for further reading, and highlight where reforms are taking place on the ground. This series is designed to be useful for everyone—from those newest to the reform movement to policymakers and practitioners. Learn more about what it means to be smart on crime by reading the fact sheets below.

In this series

Compact View

The Facts on Pattern-or-Practice Investigations Fact Sheet
 (Getty/Andrew Harnick-Pool)

The Facts on Pattern-or-Practice Investigations

The U.S. Department of Justice seems poised to restore pattern-or-practice investigations to promote constitutional and effective policing.

Kenny Lo

The Facts on State and Local Elections Fact Sheet
Voters stand in line outside of a satellite polling station in Philadelphia, October 2020. (Getty/Mark Makela)

The Facts on State and Local Elections

State and local elected officials are the key to ensuring that significant reforms are made to the criminal justice system.

Akua Amaning

Assessing the State of Police Reform Article
Demonstrators in downtown Washington, D.C., protest the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020. (Getty/Drew Angerer)

Assessing the State of Police Reform

The nationwide protests following the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans have started to change how police are held accountable.

Kenny Lo

Clemency 101 Fact Sheet
Pictured is a day of hearings at the Massachusetts Parole Board, which recommends clemency to the governor. (Getty/John Tlumacki)

Clemency 101

Clemency is a criminal justice reform tool that governors and the president can use to correct unjust sentences.

Kenny Lo, Betsy Pearl, Akua Amaning

The Facts on Progressive Prosecutors Fact Sheet
A courthouse stands on the downtown square of Jasper, Indiana, April 2015. (Getty/Universal Images Group/Education Images)

The Facts on Progressive Prosecutors

A growing number of prosecutors are shifting away from an overly punitive vision of safety and justice and toward alternatives to incarceration that promote equitable and prevention-oriented responses within the criminal justice system.

Allison Young

What You Need To Know About Ending Cash Bail Fact Sheet
 (Getty/Robert Nickelsberg)

What You Need To Know About Ending Cash Bail

Cash bail criminalizes poverty, fuels mass incarceration, and disproportionately affects communities of color. States and localities are increasingly pursuing opportunities for reform.

Lea Hunter

Clean Slate Toolkit Report

Clean Slate Toolkit

States across the country are taking action to enact clean slate, a new bipartisan policy solution that uses technology to automatically clear criminal records and give people the second chance they’ve earned.

Ending the War on Drugs: By the Numbers Fact Sheet

Ending the War on Drugs: By the Numbers

Researchers and policymakers alike agree that the war on drugs is a failure. Policymakers must replace the war on drugs with a fairer, more effective model that treats substance misuse as a public health issue—not a criminal justice issue.

Betsy Pearl

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