Top Five Brennan Center Publications in 2015

Here’s a list of the Brennan Center's five most popular publications released in 2015 — plus the top graphic, video, and podcast.

December 30, 2015

The Brennan Center published more than 25 new reports in 2015, providing empirical findings and original analyses on issues ranging from voting rights to campaign finance, from ending mass incarceration to preserving Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. Here’s a list of our five most popular publications released in 2015 — plus the top graphic, video, and podcast.

1. What Caused the Crime Decline?

This report analyzed more than 40 years of crime data from all 50 states and the nation’s 50 largest cities to examine one of America’s least understood recent phenomena — the dramatic decline in crime over the past two decades. It also reviewed various theories for the crime decline. While some are more persuasive than others, the study found that increased incarceration had practically nothing to do with the crime drop. In fact, incarceration has been declining in effectiveness as a crime control tactic for more than 30 years.

Listen to Brennan Center President Michael Waldman interview the report’s authors about their findings.

2. Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice

In this remarkable bipartisan collection of original essays, the country’s most prominent public figures and experts offer their proposals for criminal justice reform. The vast majority agree that reducing our incarcerated population is a priority. Marking a clear political shift on crime and punishment in America, these sentiments are a far cry from politicians racing to be the most punitive in the 1980s and 1990s. 

3.  America’s Voting Machines at Risk

America's voting machines are rapidly aging, and have not kept pace with developments in technology. This comprehensive study, in which more than 100 voting specialists were surveyed, looks at the challenges associated with outdated equipment, and proposes solutions to the impending crisis.

Watch Lawrence Norden, the report’s co-author, on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” as he discusses the perils of current voting machine technology and its threat to democracy.

4. What Went Wrong With the FISA Court

Under today’s foreign intelligence surveillance system, the government’s ability to collect information about ordinary Americans’ lives has increased exponentially while judicial oversight has been reduced to near-nothingness.This report concludes that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court, which is charged with providing a check on the executive branch power, is no longer serving its constitutional function. The study lays out several steps Congress should take to help restore the FISA Court’s legitimacy. 

Listen to the report’s authors, Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel, discuss the problems with the FISA court and how to reform it.

5. The Reverse Mass Incarceration Act

More than 20 years after the 1994 “Crime Bill” directed federal funds toward building new prisons, this report urges Congress to pass legislation that would do the reverse — use federal dollars to reward states that successfully reduce both crime and incarceration. 

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Also check out 2015’s most popular graphic, video, and podcast:

Cheers to 2015 and onward in the fight for democracy and justice in 2016!