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FCJ Annual Report

The Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ) stands at a crossroads in the history of America’s criminal justice system. A not-for-profit charitable organization that pursues key criminal justice reforms, the FCJ seeks a fairer, more humane criminal justice system through a wide range of educational and reform projects.

Unlike groups that focus solely on public advocacy or securing justice for the wrongly convicted, the FCJ recognizes that the contours of liberty are most frequently shaped by the individual criminal cases that test the limits of government power. Due process, equal protection, privacy rights, free speech, and other rights are defined by the criminal justice system, and depend on a robust and effective criminal defense function. The power to prosecute can only be properly restrained when rights like due process, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel are fully respected. The FCJ stands with the criminal defense bar in its constitutionally inimitable role as an advocate for all accused.

The FCJ is pleased to provide its 2016 Annual Report, which details several of its recent accomplishments.

Read the Report 

The 2016 annual report highlights several FCJ-supported projects that will have lasting effect on the criminal justice system:

Read the Letter from the President 

Read the Letter from the Executive Director 

Ensuring Access to Competent Counsel
Read about the FCJ's efforts to ensure access to competent counsel 
  • Support for Gideon at 50 
  • Support for Public Defense Reform in Louisiana
  • Support for Federal Public Defense Reporm
  • Support for Public Defense Litigation, Training, and Reform 
Amicus Curiae
Read about the FCJ's efforts to reform criminal justice through supporting amicus curiae briefs
  • Support for amicus curaie efforts
Tiffany May Joslyn White Collar Crime Policy Internship
Read about the Tiffany May Joslyn White Collar Crime Policy Fellowship
  • Remembering Tiffany May Joslyn
Overcoming Overcriminalization, Promoting Discovery Reform, and Pushing Back Against Prosecutorial Misconduct
Read about the FCJ's efforts to fight overcrim 
  • Support for events that highlight the damage wrought by overcriminalization
  • Efforts to ensure broader discovery rights
  • Efforts to protect and implement meaningful mens rea requirements
Preserving the Fourth Amendment in the Digital Era
Read about the FCJ's efforts to preserve the Fourth Amendment 
  • Support for projects to protect the Fourth Amendment, including The Fourth Amendment in the Digital Age 
  • Support for documenting major issues and recommendations concerning police-worn body cameras and the forthcoming policy report on the issue.
  • Efforts to preserve liberty in the national security era
Restoring Rights and Status after Conviction
Read about the FCJ's efforts to restore rights and status after conviction
  • Support for NACDL's ongoing efforts to reform collateral consequences of conviction
Providing Training and Developing Resources for Defense Attorneys
Read about the FCJ's efforts to provide training and resources for defense attorneys
  • Support for training programs to raise the defense bar
Opposing Racial and Ethnic Bias and Disparities in the Criminal Justice System
Read about the FCJ's efforts to oppose racial bias
  • Support for initiatives that address racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system
Promoting Diversity in the Criminal Defense Bar
Read about the FCJ's efforts to promote diversity
  • Support for the Diversity Task Force Fellowship program
Clemency Project 2014
Read about the FCJ's support for Clemency Project 2014
  • Support for Clemency Project 2014TM 
  • Grantee Spotlight

A Letter from the President about the Foundation for Criminal Justice®

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These are interesting times. There is an emerging consensus among diverse ideological backgrounds that the time for criminal justice reform has arrived, yet the Department of Justice plans to return to the era of overharsh enforcement and over-harsh sentencing. Widespread adoption of one of the potentially greatest tools to promote accountability among law enforcement — police-worn body cameras — also portends an unprecedented new era of possible police surveillance. And despite tremendous pressure on state and federal correctional facilities and a widely shared belief that society over-relies upon the criminal law to address all manner of disfavored personal, social, and economic behavior, there is a troubling movement to enact criminal provisions that will inhibit the rights of people to protest and assemble to make their concerns heard.

The Foundation for Criminal Justice® (FCJ) will adapt to these changing times in the way it always has: by standing strong in its commitment to meaningful criminal justice reform and the vital role of the criminal defense bar in that fight.

Reform is needed, and the FCJ is uniquely positioned to guide the necessary reforms. The FCJ supports projects designed to protect the right to effective counsel, fight overcriminalization and prosecutorial misconduct, push back against harsh sentencing practices, protect against secret and unaccountable government searches into the private lives of citizens, promote restoration of rights and status after conviction or arrest, dismantle racial disparities within the system, and more. The FCJ promotes these reforms by supporting the criminal defense bar and the lawyers who shoulder the constitutionally-ordained mission to ensure that when the government uses its power to prosecute, it respects the fundamental rights and dignity of the individual. The FCJ and the criminal defense bar bring the unique perspective necessary to reform a criminal justice system that too often ignores core principles like due process and the presumption of innocence.

The FCJ’s perspective is unique and invaluable. Unlike groups that focus solely on public advocacy or securing justice for the wrongly convicted, the FCJ and its partner organization, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers® (NACDL), both recognize that the contours of liberty are shaped by the everyday individual criminal cases that test the limits of government power in courtrooms throughout the country. While protection of those who are actually innocent is a vital concern, the question of guilt or innocence is seldom ascertainable with scientific certainty. Rather, it rests in the gray areas of credibility, intent, and perception. The FCJ’s efforts are grounded in the belief that due process, equal protection, privacy rights, free speech, and countless other rights are defined by the criminal justice system and shaped by the often prosaic but always heroic efforts of criminal defense lawyers.

But even those who violate the law still possess their fundamental human dignity. FCJ-supported projects reflect the belief that punishment should be proportionate and individualized, and that eventual restoration of rights is essential to the health and well-being of society.

Likewise, the FCJ and the criminal defense bar understand the importance of using their unique capacity and perspective to help right historical wrongs. There is no better example of this than the FCJ support for Clemency Project 2014™. The FCJ answered the Department of Justice’s call to the legal profession to assist federal prisoners who seek commutation of their sentences, an initiative that helped hundreds obtain early release, saving thousands of years of imprisonment, reuniting families, and saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The FCJ’s willingness and capacity to react expeditiously to every opportunity and challenge reflects the strength and ingenuity of the criminal defense bar, and the FCJ’s steadfast commitment to meaningful criminal justice reform. No matter what challenges may arise in the coming year, the FCJ stands ready to meet them.

Sincerely,

Gerald B. Lefcourt
President, Foundation for Criminal Justice
 

A Letter from the Executive Director

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Imagine a society in which the criminal justice system is fair, humane, and restrained.

Imagine a criminal justice system free of racial and ethnic disparity, one in which every person who cannot afford to hire an attorney is provided with access to a fully-trained and resourced lawyer at the first moment when liberty is a stake or a guilty plea to any criminal charge may be entered.

Imagine that those who are presumed innocent are not routinely held in custody because they cannot afford cash bail, and that the entire criminal process has been reformed to ensure both full and fair disclosure and the ability to exercise the constitutional right to a trial without facing geometrically increased penalties.

Imagine further that those lawyers who fulfill the constitutional right to counsel are fully-supported, mass incarceration has been ended, privacy rights are respected, and every person who has fulfilled the terms of criminal sentence is provided a clear path to the restoration of rights.

The Foundation for Criminal Justice exists to make these aspirations a reality.

Through its support of NACDL, and others who share a commitment to fundamentally, thoroughly, and permanently reform the U.S. criminal justice system, the FCJ is a powerful engine for reform. Those who support the FCJ know that the criminal justice system is far too expansive and repressive, and thus has become untethered from its moral anchor. A system that undermines rather than promotes public safety, or that fosters division instead of unity, must be changed. A system that promotes overly harsh outcomes at the expense of humanity must be reformed. And a system that fails to recognize and celebrate the human capacity for reform and redemption is not worthy of the ideals upon which the United States of America was founded.

To all of the FCJ’s supporters, I extend my heartfelt gratitude for joining in the quest to address these systemic failures and to realize the dream of a fairer, more rational, and humane criminal justice system.

Sincerely,

Norman L. Reimer
Executive Director

Mission and Statement of Principle

The FCJ preserves and promotes the core values of the American criminal justice system. The FCJ is a 501(c)(3) charitable not-for-profit organization committed to national criminal justice reform. Because the contours of America’s core constitutional rights are shaped by that system, the single most critical check on government excess is provided by the Sixth Amendment and implemented by the nation’s criminal defense bar. In furtherance of that belief, the FCJ supports projects that empower the criminal defense bar to fulfill its constitutional role. The robust defense of all accused persons is the most effective means of confronting governmental overreach and abuse. In this regard, the FCJ recognizes that justice is only possible when an adequately resourced advocate is available to test the propriety and legality of the government’s invocation of its power to prosecute; that individuals should not be judged only by their worst moments; and that any punishment must be proportionate to the offense and the offender. Further, the FCJ believes that even for those who have been lawfully convicted of an offense, the criminal justice system must broadly embrace the restoration of rights for those who have paid their debt to society.

For more information, or to request a hard copy, please contact Daniel Weir at dweir@nacdl.org.

See historical FCJ annual reports and also learn more about FCJ-supported projects over the years.

  Expenses by Program Area - Graph 2 

2016 Expenses By Category 

  2016 Revenue by Source 

   

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