For a complete list of Criminal Justice Task Force events, check out the CLEAR calendar of events.
Criminal Justice Task Force
Criminal Justice Task Force
Professor Deborah A. Ramirez founded the Northeastern University School of Law Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) in the summer of 2020, responding to calls for criminal justice reform by protesters around the world.
Through a framework of subgroups, the Task Force addresses policies and practices within the criminal justice system that disenfranchise the most vulnerable members of our society. The subgroups facilitate communication and collaboration across communities which might not otherwise get the opportunity to work together. With more than 110 members, the Task Force includes representatives from the judicial, legal and public policy communities, law enforcement and academia.
- Police Reform, working on issues related to law enforcement reform. Areas of research include, but are not limited to, uniform codification at the local level, professional liability insurance for law enforcement, and alternative emergency response personnel for non-violent 911 calls.
- Reentry, working to provide support for Massachusetts’ Office of Community Corrections, particularly by establishing a system of community navigators who help returning citizens access state support.
- Bail Reform and Restorative Justice, working to advocate for state bail reform by creating an evaluation matrix that will help judges establish the risk of flight and appropriate bail levels. This work is being done from a restorative justice perspective.
- Juvenile Justice, working on several projects related to juvenile justice, including, but not limited to, school policing and deconstruction of the cradle-to-prison pipeline.
- Confronting Racial Injustice Panels, working to highlight areas of Massachusetts history at the intersection of racial injustice and the legal system. This group is hosting a series of expert-driven panels that explore these topics in significant depth.
- Historical Narratives is working on several short articles that will become available as educational and training tools.
- Latinx Stories, working on the same issues as the other history subgroups, with a Latinx perspective.
- Asian Stories, which will research and publish histories detailing Asian and Asian-American experiences within the criminal justice system.
Jails to Jobs Pipeline Project
This Criminal Justice Task Force project, led by Northeastern Law Professor Deborah Ramirez, seeks to address two national problems: recidivism and the labor shortage.
>> Jails to Jobs Pipeline Project Proposal
>> State-Wide Reentry Network Flyer
>> State-Wide Reentry Solution
The Insurance Project
This project seeks to use liability insurance as a way to regulate possession of guns and as a way to improve police accountability.
>> Policing the Police: A Roadmap to Police Accountability Using Professional Liability Insurance
>> Policing the Police: Could Mandatory Professional Liability Insurance for Officers Provide a New Accountability Model
See related article by Professor Deborah Ramirez: “Massachusetts Should Require Gun Liability Insurance,” The Boston Globe (July 29, 2022).
Reentry Research Project
Ignoring the needs of those reentering our communities is undeniably setting them up for failure. Most states have uncoordinated, private or small public reentry networks, lacking continuity and communication. Our communities need public, state-wide, state-funded networks to increase resource accessibility.
>> Read the Criminal Justice Task Force’s proposal for creating change
Rethinking Public Safety Project
To rethink public safety, Professor Deborah Ramirez and the Criminal Justice Task Force propose (1) narrowing the scope of our police forces to respond only to on violent crimes, on-going crimes and serious felonies, (2) creating an unarmed trained civilian public safety team to respond to non-violent crimes, and (3) building police accountability infra-structure and architecture.
>> Read Professor Deborah Ramirez’s proposal for creating change
Historical Narrative Project
The Historical Narrative Project aims to inform community members and stakeholders about the role race has played in the history and economic development of Massachusetts.
>> Boston Narrative: Faneuil Hall: The Monument of Peter Faneuil’s Legacy and a Catalyst for Change
Recent Victories in the Fight for Justice
Northeastern Law’s Center for Law, Equity and Race and Criminal Justice Task Force are pleased to announce three major victories in their fight for systemic changes to make our criminal and civil justice systems fairer and more just.
First, the Ralph Gants Reentry Services Program will provide $2 million to the Massachusetts Community Justice Support Centers (CCJS) to provide every person coming out of prison or jail with reentry services at one of the 19 CCJS centers. Massachusetts is the only state with state-funded, state-wide reentry services centers focused on providing reentry services to individuals after they have left prison or jail. Almost two-thirds of those who leave prison or jail in the commonwealth return within three years. With this additional funding, the state-wide reentry services program will be able to more effectively help those coming out of prison or jail navigate the path to a productive life. Reentry coordinators will be able to provide returning individuals with information about jobs, job training, housing, substance use disorder treatment, educational opportunities, medical insurance, cell phone assistance, mental health treatment centers and identification cards. This funding is the result of advocacy by the Criminal Justice Task Force’s Subcommittee on Reentry, headed by Massachusetts Appellate Court Justice Sydney Hanlon (ret.) and Superior Court Judge Rosalind Miller (ret.), who worked on this initiative with State Senator Will Brownsberger.
Second, under the leadership of Professor Deborah Ramirez, founder of the Criminal Justice Task Force, diverse students across the commonwealth will now have access to stipends for co-ops or internships with state judges. Working closely inside a judge’s chambers allows law students to hone their research and writing skills, enrich their insights about the development of jurisprudence and develop a close relationship with a judge who can be a mentor and advisor. Currently, all state co-ops and internships are unpaid. The Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants Judicial Scholarship fund will provide $150,000 to law students across the commonwealth who cannot afford to take an unpaid internship or co-op. It is hoped that this initiative will help diversify the pipeline for post-law school judicial law clerkships and for judgeships.
Third, the Center for Law, Equity and Race’s (CLEAR) Chief Justice Access to Justice Fund will engage and educate the judicial community about how restorative justice practices can be used to advance equity efforts within the trial courts administration. This program is headed by Professor Susan Maze-Rothstein of the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University.
“We have made tremendous progress this year, but there is so much more to be done. As we move ahead, we will be asking lawyers and law firms to join us and to join our Criminal Justice Task Force advisory board so that we can continue to make structural changes to improve the lives of those seeking assistance from the courts,” said Professor Deborah Ramirez, head of the Criminal Justice Task Force and faculty co-director of CLEAR.
To participate in the Criminal Justice Task Force or CLEAR, please contact Professor Deborah Ramirez at firstname.lastname@example.org.