The decision to imprison: how training and engagement influence judges

Author: Penelope Gibbs

The US criminal justice system is seldom seen as worth emulating, particularly in its use of imprisonment. But some aspects are innovative and effective. This report looks particularly at the role of US judges in fostering innovation and engaging with the wider criminal justice system. US judges engage directly with offenders in specialist courts, celebrating their success, comforting them for the relapses they admit to, and chiding them for those they try to hide; they try to change legal practice and to improve the experience of court users and outcomes of offenders; they engage with the community and they engage actively in policy development. Penelope Gibbs spoke to judges in Washington DC, Baltimore, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Portland and concluded that British judges could learn a lot from their US colleagues, particularly in being open, and engaged with the wider criminal justice system.