Center on the Administration of Criminal Law

About the Center:

The center's mission is to promote and defend good government practices in criminal matters. The center analyzes important issues of criminal law, particularly focusing on prosecutorial power and discretion. It pursues this mission in three main arenas: academia, the courts, and public policy debates. Through the center's academic component, the center researches criminal justice practices at all levels of government, produces scholarship on criminal justice issues, and hosts symposia and conferences to address significant topics in criminal law and procedure. The litigation component uses the center’s research and experience with criminal justice practices to inform courts in important criminal justice matters, particularly in cases in which exercises of prosecutorial discretion create significant legal issues. The public policy component applies the center’s criminal justice expertise to improve practices in the criminal justice system and enhance the public dialogue on criminal justice matters. The center is the first and only organization dedicated to defining good government practices in criminal prosecutions. No other organization is dedicated to improving prosecution practices through research, litigation, and the improvement of public policy.

Upcoming Events:

Recidivism Reduction and Reentry

In the coming months, we are excited to expand our work to include examining ways to reduce recidivism and facilitate prisoner reentry into society.  In particular, the Center has received funding to examine whether prosecutors can and should be given a more active role over a prisoner’s reentry into society and a greater responsibility in reducing recidivism.  First, the Center will explore what would happen if prosecutors were to take into consideration the risk and impact of a defendant’s reentry and recidivism at all stages of a criminal case: before and during the charging stages, the bail setting stages, the negotiation/disposition stages and at sentencing.  Second, the Center will explore what would happen if the prosecutor’s file essentially remained “open” after sentencing, and prosecutors were charged with following defendants after sentencing to better ensure that these defendants do not recidivate, re-enter the prison system, and cost these same prosecutors valuable resources over and over again.  Our goal is to propose best practices encouraging prosecutors to recognize reentry and recidivism factors early on in the process, and helping to produce more positive, cost-effective outcomes.

As a first step, the Center is convening a Reentry Roundtable at NYU to be held on December 2, 2016.  The Center will bring together head prosecutors and policy leaders around the nation to share promising ideas, identify hurdles to implementation, and ultimately build some consensus around certain tools that prosecutors can use to facilitate reentry and reduce recidivism.

On Current Events:

November 29, 2016

Please see our latest letter to President Obama, from a broad coalition of criminial justice reformers here and here.

September 25, 2016

We are thrilled to report that the NYU Presidential Inauguration Committee has selected the Mercy Project as a winner of the inaugural NYU Making a Difference Awards. 

This university-wide award recognizes members of the NYU community who have made a lasting impact for the better on the city, region, nation, or globe. The Mercy Project was honored for its important work in reducing sentences and securing freedom through clemency for nonviolent, incarcerated individuals.   

The award was presented to the Mercy Project at the inauguration of President Andrew Hamilton in New York on Sunday, September 25, 2016.



June 21, 2016

For several years, the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law has been committed to pursuing federal clemency relief for deserving individuals serving over-length sentences for nonviolent crimes. To date, through our Mercy Project and our Clemency Resource Center, we have filed approximately 100 petitions for federal clemency relief with President Obama. 
 
With the support of law professors and law students, the Center delves into every aspect of clemency, including advocating for the Administration to prioritize its clemency initiative, augment its resources, and increase the effectiveness of its internal review processes to ensure that every deserving applicant gets due consideration.  
 
The Center has sent worthy clemency petitions to the President’s desk, and now urges the President to act on all deserving clemency petitions which remain on the desks of officials in his Administration. To that end, we draw your attention to this letter to the President, from a broad coalition of criminal justice reform advocates, former judges and prosecutors, and legal scholars.      

May 5, 2016

Statement of Rachel E. Barkow, Faculty Director, Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, NYU School of Law on President Obama’s Clemency Decisions:

"President Obama’s commutations today are a step in the right direction, but they also illustrate how much more this administration needs to do to fulfill the promise of the president’s clemency initiative. Under the administration’s own criteria, approximately 1500 prisoners should be eligible for commutations. If the president is going to meet that bar, he needs to grant approximately 50 commutations each week for the remainder of his term. Unfortunately, it is not at all clear today that they are on track to do so. So while we applaud his actions and congratulate those prisoners whose unjust sentences have been commuted, we continue to urge the president to accelerate his administration’s review of the thousands of applications currently pending. Until they do, this initiative remains a lottery, and not an actual clemency program.”