Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice and its scholars are dedicated to restoring the integrity and legitimacy of the criminal justice system in the United States. At the federal, state, and local levels, the institutions and individuals that make up our criminal justice systems lack appropriate oversight and accountability, leaving citizens vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Moreover, much of our criminal law is both immoral and violates the original public meaning of the Constitution. The Project on Criminal Justice undertakes a focused, strategic approach to reforming the laws and institutions that have undermined both the efficacy and the legitimacy of our criminal justice system.
Cato’s criminal justice work covers a wide area of criminal law and policy, but its scholars are primarily concerned with 1) the unconstitutional overcriminalization of blameless conduct; 2) increasing the accountability of law enforcement officers and other government agents who commit misconduct; 3) identifying and reversing self-defeating policing strategies that erode the public trust in police; 4) restoring the public’s role in the criminal justice process by eliminating coercive plea bargaining; and 5) restoring the criminal jury trial to its rightful role as the primary mechanism by which criminal prosecutions are resolved in America. The Project’s scholars create and publish original research, file legal briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and appellate courts, submit testimony to government panels, provide policy commentary through various media to educate the public, and present speeches to groups of other policymakers, community leaders, students, and other members of the public.