Current Thinking Blog

Aug
26
Stanley Richards speaks with Vera about how the education he received in prison changed his life, and how he's using what he learned to help others. READ MORE

As violent crime rates continue to decline nationally, they have remained comparatively high in Chicago. Overall, reductions in violent crime in Chicago have been modest—dropping 9 percent from 2009 to 2010. That’s why the city’s recent 32 percent drop in homicide rates caught the national media’s attention in June.

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By Timour Lalanne, intern, Vera’s Washington, DC office.

Increasingly, public discussion about policy intersects with questions of public health—whether the social and economic costs of obesity, the inequalities in the nation’s health care services, or the high rates of suicide among veterans. A recent public health briefing on Capitol Hill offered some promising recommendations for policy changes that could close the care gap as well as an assessment of existing challenges.

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This week, the New York State court system was selected by the National Guardianship Network (NGN) to receive one of four state court incentive and technical assistance grants to create innovative, consensus-driven Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS).

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On Sunday, families around the country will celebrate Mother’s Day. For people like me who are far away from home, we will likely use low-cost, convenient technology to call our mothers, say hello, and wish them a happy Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, for more than 65,000 incarcerated mothers, a low-cost phone call is not possible. As a recent news article describes, a local phone call made from prison or jail has connection fees and high per-minute costs.

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April marked the national rollout of the Family-Youth Initiative (FYI). FYI is a joint project of the Vera Institute of Justice and the Performance-based Standards Learning Institute (PbSLi) that sets standards for juvenile justice agencies on engaging and including families in the lives of children under the agencies’ care. 

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Last week I blogged about how men incarcerated at one prison in Ohio celebrated Earth Day. They asked me to share examples of what other institutions are doing to go green. The correctional system in Ohio recognizes the substantial environmental impact of its 28 prison communities, and is taking impressive and holistic steps to reduce its footprint—so there was plenty to share:

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According to the Earth Day Network, “over 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.” Earth Day is a time for communities to come together and pay special attention to their local environment. But for the thousands of individuals incarcerated in the U.S., opportunities for this kind of civic engagement are much harder to come by.

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Tom Clements with Don Specter, director of the Prison Law Office, on a recent trip to tour European prisons

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