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a forum for ideas, opinions, and strategies on justice policy and practice

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Sep 19, 2014 On Tuesday, September 9, I attended a celebration at the National Archives in Washington, DC hosted by Vice President Joe Biden to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). It brought together advocates from across the country who are dedicated to helping domestic violence and sexual assault victims, survivors, and their children.   Beginning in the 1970s and continuing on through the 1980s and early 1990s, advocates...

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Sep 5, 2014 At a distance of nearly a month, the shooting death of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, the deeply troubling response to it, and the ongoing commentary have a certain back-to-the-future quality, reminding us of how stuck in the past we still are, despite real progress in matters of race. Much remains to be done—and not only in Ferguson—to combat the source of distrust and enmity between police and community, particularly African American...

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Aug 26, 2014 The Unlocking Potential: Perspectives on Education in Prison blog series—as part of Vera’s Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project—explores postsecondary education in prison and its benefits—during and after incarceration—through the unique experiences and insight of former students, educators, nonprofit leaders, corrections officials, reentry experts, and more.  Stanley Richards is a formerly incarcerated individual who served time in...
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Aug 19, 2014 More than 700,000 people leave jail and prison each year needing permanent housing. Studies have shown that obtaining permanent housing means that formerly incarcerated individuals are more likely to gain employment, maintain sobriety, complete parole supervision, and achieve the necessary stability to stay safely in the community. Many of the family members of these individuals live in public housing—a place where people with a criminal record are often...

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Aug 18, 2014 The Unlocking Potential: Perspectives on Education in Prison blog series—as part of Vera’s Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project—explores postsecondary education in prison and its benefits—during and after incarceration—through the unique experiences and insight of former students, educators, nonprofit leaders, corrections officials, reentry experts, and more.  Jody Lewen is the executive director of the Prison University Project, a...

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Aug 13, 2014 The Vera Institute’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections recently released a report that details 2013 state-level legislative changes affecting sentencing and corrections practices. The report—Recalibrating Justice: A Review of 2013 State Sentence and Corrections Trends—identifies the creation of programs that would increase the likelihood of successful reintegration into the community after an individual leaves prison or jail as a major area of focus....

Aug 7, 2014 In late June, the bipartisan House Judiciary Committee Task Force on Over-Criminalization examined the collateral consequences that an expanding federal penal code, the rapid addition of new regulatory crimes and violations, and harsh federal sentencing guidelines can have on the approximately 65 million Americans with a criminal record. At the center of this hearing was a report released in May by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (...

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