I have the pleasure of announcing the five-year anniversary of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center this autumn. SCJC launched in October 2004, when SCJC founder Professor Robert Weisberg hosted a national symposium on the then-recent Supreme Court decision in Blakely v. Washington. The symposium was titled “The Future of American Sentencing: A National Roundtable on Blakely,” and came just days after the Supreme Court opened its 2004 term. The papers generated by the symposium were published in a special issue of the Stanford Law Review and were sent to every member of Congress and every member of the federal judiciary.
Since the 2004 launch, we’ve been busy. In the last five years, we have, among other things:
- Hosted a conference on the status of gun ownership in America (we were not prescient enough to foresee the 2009 case McDonald v. City of Chicago).
- Invited a panel of formerly incarcerated people sentenced to life in prison to discuss their experiences of life on the inside.
- Hosted a town hall meeting in which advocates and policymakers presented their concerns about the work of the consultant group tasked with identifying remedies to California’s degraded juvenile justice system.
- Held a conference on the subject of race and incarceration, bringing together experts in law, criminology, psychology and other disciplines to discuss this extremely trouble aspect of America’s sentencing and corrections system.
- Had an academic symposium on the subject of the victim in criminal justice.
- Hosted the 2008 annual meeting of the National Association of Sentencing Commissions.
- Hosted a public meeting of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
- Partnered with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Task Force on Mass Incarceration for a public event and working group meeting.
- Conducted the 2007-2008 Stanford Executive Sessions on Sentencing and Corrections – an innovative form of policy working group, designed to bring together the key public, academic, and organizational leaders in the field of criminal justice policy in a spirit of cooperative movement toward reform of the sentencing and corrections systems, as well as the criminal justice system as a whole in California.
Perhaps our greatest accomplishment is something for which we can take very little credit – the appointment of Dr. Joan Petersilia to the Stanford Law faculty. We’re thrilled that Joan has joined us as a co-director of the Center.
SCJC looks forward to many more years of bridging gaps between academia and criminal justice policy, and to continuing to forge partnerships with other practitioners, policy makers, and academics committed to improving criminal justice policy in America.