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The Future of Criminal Justice

Justice systems today are being buffeted by powerful global forces. COVID-19 has created huge challenges for delivering justice while protecting public health. Political leaders and public sector officials face urgent calls to improve racial equity in criminal justice systems. Long-term shifts in technology, politics, and society are creating threats as well as opportunities to serve the public effectively.

A moment for criminal justice reform

COVID-19 has shown many aspects of criminal justice at their best. Justice professionals have continued to serve us, despite risks to their own safety. In a matter of months or even days, courts have implemented remote hearings and prisons have enabled virtual visits using secure video technology. In some cases, sentencing policy and approaches to monitoring and supporting people with convictions has changed virtually overnight.

These rapid innovations show that change can be achieved, and while COVID-19 has amplified problems such as mounting delays in court proceedings, much more can be done.

Criminal justice is fundamental 

Criminal justice is vital to social justice, racial equity, and for citizens’ trust in government and each other. Yet today, justice systems are being buffeted by powerful global forces.

 
In response to these challenges, Deloitte is working with criminal justice industry leaders across the globe to identify the big shifts that justice systems must respond to immediately. But the first step in any change is understanding the purpose of the justice system and what citizens want from it—and what they do not.

COVID-19 has sparked innovation but exposed the cracks, but there is more disruption to come 

COVID-19 has shown many aspects of criminal justice at their best. Justice professionals have continued to serve us, despite risks to their own safety. In a matter of months or even days, courts have implemented remote hearings and prisons have enabled virtual visits using secure video technology. In some cases, sentencing policy and approaches to monitoring and supporting people with convictions have changed virtually overnight.
 
But the pandemic has also amplified existing challenges within the justice system such as long delays in court proceedings; challenges that rapid societal and technological change will only exacerbate. To cope with these long-term stressors, justice departments must capitalise on the momentum of change from COVID-19 and prepare for the larger shifts to come.

But there are solutions. Together, we can create a bold, new settlement for criminal justice systems across the world 

New challenges demand new approaches. The rapid progress of technology has opened up new ways to better serve victims, witnesses and citizens. But that technological progress needs to be accompanied by a shift in thinking if it is to be most effective. Governments must recognise that they cannot solve these problems alone and embark on leading a ‘whole-system’ approach to improving criminal justice. With new technology and new thinking together, we can chart a way to an effective, equitable future of criminal justice.

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