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

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Nov 19, 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.  Yariela Kerr-Donovan is a member of Vera’s Pathways Project national...

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Nov 12, 2014 In 2013, a group of victims’ advocates and advocates from alternative to incarceration (ATI) and reentry programs began meeting together to see what would happen if we listened to each other more. Nearly two years later, the group has become the Coalition of ATI/Reentry and Victims’ Advocates (CAVA), and is defining how unlikely partnerships can advance sound and safe criminal justice policy. CAVA aims to strengthen policy and program efforts in both the...

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Nov 10, 2014 I’m going to admit two things that may make me a pop culture pariah:   1. For a long time, Orange Is the New Black—the show and the book—made me angry.   2. I watch all of the Real Housewives franchises. These two things are, to my surprise, related. I’ll start by explaining the anger I felt at Orange Is the New Black.   When Orange Is the New Black started getting lots of attention, I was struck by the perversity of it all: millions of Americans are...

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Nov 6, 2014 If you only followed the election day coverage of candidate races, you might not be aware that bipartisan support for criminal justice reform is alive and well at a time when partisans throughout the political spectrum bemoan logjams in policymaking.   In California, Proposition 47—which revises felony thresholds for certain drug possession and theft offenses and reclassifies them as misdemeanors—passed with overwhelming voter support. The ramifications of...

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Oct 30, 2014 This month, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released its latest report, Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ), and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2013. The report provides detailed data on LGBTQ and HIV-affected, as well as data on police, medical, and other responses to them. This report builds on a growing but limited body of research on domestic and sexual violence in...

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Oct 23, 2014 Earlier this month, my colleague Ryan Shanahan and I represented Vera at the Aspen Institute Ascend Network’s ThinkXChange. This network, of which Vera is a member, connects 58 organizations from across the United States “to influence policy and practice changes that increase economic security, educational success, social capital, and health and well-being for children, parents, and their families.” Specifically, the Ascend Network is advancing a two-...

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Oct 17, 2014 Several weeks ago, I attended the memorial service for Eddie Ellis, who was, among many things (including a son, a father, a mentor, and a leader), a formerly incarcerated man and the founder of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions. I first met Eddie in 2007, not long after he wrote his well-known “language letter.” Called “An Open Letter to Our Friends on the Question of Language,” the letter was a challenge to abandon the dehumanizing language...

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