Enforcing criminal laws to secure the rights of all inhabitants is perhaps the most fundamental function of a government. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system in the United States has become a conviction manufacturing machine divorced from the basic tenets of justice. The police often undermine the basic liberties they are supposed to protect and the courts process the vast majority of its cases through plea agreements that strip away the constitutional right to jury trial.

More on Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement

Cato Studies

Militarization Fails to Enhance Police Safety or Reduce Crime but May Harm Police Reputation

By Jonathan Mummolo. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 143. December 19, 2018.

Walling Off Liberty: How Strict Immigration Enforcement Threatens Privacy and Local Policing

By Matthew Feeney. Policy Analysis No. 852. November 1, 2018.

Police Patrols and Crime

By Jordi Blanes i Vidal and Giovanni Mastrobuoni. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 112. May 9, 2018.


Thin Blue Lies: How Pretextual Stops Undermine Police Legitimacy

Jonathan Blanks. Case Western Reserve Law Review. Vol. 66. No. 4. 2016.

Stopping Police Militarization: Reforming the 1033 Program

Trevor Burrus. Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress. 2015.

Don’t Retreat on “Stand Your Ground” Laws

Ilya Shapiro. America's First Freedom. January 2014.

Public Filings

Mitchell v. Wisconsin

By D. Alicia Hickok, Doug R. McCusick, Ilya Shapiro, Clark Neily, Trevor Burrus, & Jay Schweikert. Legal Briefs. March 4, 2019.

Cisse v. New York

By Scott M. Danner, Priya Raghavan, Ilya Shapiro, & Trevor Burrus. Legal Briefs. December 11, 2018.

Prison Legal News v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections

By John N. Estes III, Donald P. Salzman, Thomas A. Parnham, Jr., Nila Bala, & Trevor Burrus. Legal Briefs. October 19, 2018.


Punishment without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal

Featuring Jonathan Blanks. May 7, 2019. Book Forum.

Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration

Featuring Rachel Elise Barkow and Clark Neily. March 15, 2019. Book Forum.

Coercive Plea Bargaining

Featuring Clark Neily, Scott Hechinger, Bonnie Hoffman, & Somil Trivedi. October 18, 2018. Policy Forum.