Carol S. Steiker, Keeping Hope Alive: Criminal Justice Reform during Cycles of Political Retrenchment, 71 Fla. L. Rev. 1363 (2019).
Abstract: For the past decade or so, criminal justice reform in the United States has been having a moment. After decades of massive increases in incarceration rates around the country, advocates for serious rethinking of harsh criminal justice policies have begun to find more receptive audiences at the local, state, and federal levels. However, the 2016 presidential election brought into office a new administration that often embraces the perspective of earlier eras on crime and punishment. How might the momentum of criminal justice reform be maintained in this new political climate? Looking back at some of the drivers of change over the past decade offers helpful guidance for the future—not just for this moment of flux, but for the inevitable future fluctuations to come. This Article offers a catalog of six aspects of the current criminal justice reform moment that can be thought of as tools for promoting continued reform efforts. Each of these tools is of limited power by itself, and all have possible downsides. But wielded thoughtfully and in tandem, they can build sturdy vehicles for propelling forward the essential and unfinished project of criminal justice reform.