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Professor Laurie Robinson to help guide the Council on Criminal Justice

August 9, 2019   /   by John Hollis

Laurie Robinson

A George Mason University professor is playing a key role in a new nonpartisan think tank dedicated to improving the criminal justice system and public safety in America with solutions based on facts, evidence and fundamental principles of justice.

Laurie Robinson, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society and a former U.S. assistant attorney general, is among a broad coalition of criminal justice and public policy leaders who have banded together to form the Council on Criminal Justice, a national organization seeking to advance consensus on solutions that increase safety and justice.

Robinson has previously served as co-chair of the White House Task Force on 21st-Century Policing, and twice served (in the Obama and Clinton administrations) as a Senate-confirmed, presidentially appointed assistant attorney general heading the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.

The council’s advisory board of trustees is co-chaired by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Mark Holden of Koch Industries. It also includes U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), former California governor Jerry Brown, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, among others. Veteran criminal justice policy expert Adam Gelb is the organization’s founding president and CEO.

“The council connects a diverse group of top doers and thinkers who believe that fair and effective criminal justice is essential to our nation’s well-being,” said Robinson, who chairs the council’s governing board of directors. “With their broad range of expertise, our members will create timely and compelling roadmaps and use their clout and credibility to turn those proposals into action.”

The creation of the council comes on the heels of the First Step Act, the federal legislation signed into law in December 2018 that will allow thousands of nonviolent offenders the opportunity to leave prison early.

The council will conduct research and analysis across a wide range of issues, including crime prevention, policing, the courts and corrections, as well as persistent racial and economic disparities in the justice system, and the balance between new technology and privacy. The council is charged with relaying its findings with in-depth research reports, analysis and policy proposals grounded in facts and evidence and converted into practice policy in a timely manner.

“For the first time, Americans of nearly every political and demographic perspective want changes in the criminal justice system,” Yates said in a statement. “Thanks to a growing community of talented people and organizations, important reforms have been enacted. But we have only scratched the surface of what needs to be done, and what can be done.”

Robinson called the groundswell “a singular moment in criminal justice that is in the national interest,” and sounded confident the organization could make a positive difference.

“I think the results of the work that we do could over time help build more credibility for the criminal justice system,” she said.

To ensure the independence of its work, the council will not apply for government grants or contracts, nor will it provide technical assistance or lobby.

Learn more about the Council on Criminal Justice.