“On April 8, 2019, the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice announced the selection of the Hudson Institute to host the Independent Review Committee required under the First Step Act. After the announcement, the Department briefed Congressional staff on implementation of the First Step Act, and our concerns about this decision remain.
“The First Step Act required establishment of an IRC to create independent, unbiased oversight of the law’s implementation, and to ensure that reforms are conducted in a bipartisan and evidence-based manner. The law requires that NIJ ‘select a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization with expertise in the study and development of risk and needs assessment tools.’
“The Hudson Institute appears to have little or no expertise in the study and development of risk and needs assessment tools. Committee staff questioned DOJ representatives charged with overseeing First Step Act implementation as to why the Hudson Institute was selected, and were told that DOJ representatives did not know. Staff asked whether the Hudson Institute has ever studied or developed a risk and needs assessment tool, and were told that DOJ representatives did not know. Staff asked on what date the Hudson Institute was selected, and were told that DOJ representatives did not know. Staff asked what process was used to select the Hudson Institute, and again were told that DOJ representatives did not know.
“The Hudson Institute and its leadership have opposed sentencing reform, opposed the First Step Act’s reforms, and authored an article entitled ‘Why Trump Should Oppose Criminal Justice Reform.’ We are concerned that the selection of a biased organization lacking requisite expertise may reflect a lack of intent to diligently and effectively implement the bipartisan criminal justice reforms passed last Congress.
“DOJ is either paying short shrift to implementing critical elements of the First Step Act or substituting its own perspective over the will of Congress. We ask that NIJ immediately rescind this selection and appoint an organization that comports with the mandates under the First Step Act. Congress will remain vigilant and demands that DOJ carry out the letter and spirit of the First Step Act.”