Looking back at 2020

By Megan Quattlebaum

December 23, 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 and the public outcry over George Floyd’s killing presented overlapping crises for state and local justice systems in 2020. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center responded by directing its resources to meet the rapidly evolving needs of our stakeholders.

The result was a challenging but productive year filled with successes in the midst of hardship and consensus despite conflict.

Since the start of the pandemic, our staff has been in contact with hundreds of policymakers and practitioners across all 50 states to identify critical questions and share ideas and strategies. We helped promote and enable the use of data to inform prison release decisions, tracking positive cases by facility and working with state correctional leaders to model the impact of COVID-19 in their prisons. We compiled resource opportunities for struggling community nonprofits and developed new tools for corrections officials. And we pushed for our nation’s economic rebuilding to be inclusive, promoting the removal of barriers to people with records and successfully encouraging the federal Small Business Administration to allow business owners with criminal records to access COVID-19 relief funds.

Later in the year, George Floyd’s killing and the resulting protests led to a series of conversations for staff at the CSG Justice Center about how we are both advancing our internal diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and how we are making racial equity a priority in our external-facing efforts. Those discussions led to the hiring of a consultant to help us navigate ongoing discussions of equity within our organization. Working with our advisory board and other stakeholders, we also generated a host of new ideas about how to help our partners in states meet their own equity goals for their criminal justice systems. You can expect to see these grow into full-fledged initiatives in the coming months.

This year challenged our team in ways we couldn’t have imagined. But it allowed our foundational values and strengths to shine through in the toughest of circumstances. And it could not have been done without our amazingly dedicated staff and Advisory Board. We look forward to building upon our success and tackling new challenges in 2021.

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Megan Quattlebaum
As director of the CSG Justice Center, Megan Quattlebaum leads a staff of approximately 120 who work across an array of specialties that span the criminal justice continuum to develop research-driven strategies to increase public safety and strengthen communities. Before
joining the organization, Megan most recently served as a research scholar in law and the program director of the Justice Collaboratory at the Yale Law School, where she taught as well as developed and oversaw research projects and led the organization’s work on behalf of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. She was also the Senior Liman Fellow in Residence for the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law and served as a lecturer in law at Columbia Law School. Additionally, she has served as a practicing criminal and civil defense attorney with Zuckerman Spaeder LLP in New York and an Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow and attorney at the Neighborhood Legal Services Association in Pittsburgh. She also clerked for the Hon. Julio M. Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her JD from the Yale Law School.
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