Examining the Challenges in National Criminal Justice Reform: 50 Years Later

The GW Law Review held its Fall 2017 Symposium, “The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society: 50 Years Later.”

GW Law Review Symposium
From left to right: Song Richardson, University of California; Nancy Leong, University of Denver; Devon Carbado, UCLA; Associate Dean Roger A. Fairfax, Jr.
December 06, 2017

The George Washington Law Review, along with co-sponsor Roger A. Fairfax, Jr., Jeffrey and Martha Kohn Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research Professor of Law, held its Fall 2017 Symposium, "The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society: 50 Years Later," in October. The symposium marked the 50th anniversary of the report by President Lyndon Johnson's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, "The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society." Led by Attorney General Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, the Commission compiled comprehensive data on crime in the United States, discussed the salient issues confronting the criminal justice system and provided recommendations to address these problems. Now, 50 years later, our society continues to face many of the same obstacles to an effective and fair criminal justice system.

The two-day conference examined the essential issues of courts and procedure, technology, policing, corrections and sentencing, prosecution, the War on Drugs, and juvenile justice. It also focused on the future of the criminal justice system and what steps can be taken to achieve reform. The symposium welcomed three keynote speakers, many leading criminal law scholars, and policy experts who spoke about the development of national criminal justice reform; these included U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Bobby Scott, Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Congressman Jamie Raskin, Vice-Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. They addressed the current legislative efforts to reform the criminal justice system and offered their perspectives on the current state of the American criminal justice system and where to go next. Chief Judge Patti Saris of the District Court for the District of Massachusetts spoke about the evolution of criminal policy since 1967 and the issues that exist today. She drew from her expertise developed during her tenure as Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2010 to 2016.

The scholarly work discussed during "The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society: Fifty Years Later" will be published in the 86th Volume of the Law Review. More information about the Law Review, including past Symposia coverage, can be found at www.gwlr.org.