Current Thinking

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

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Aug 4, 2015 Last year, attention surrounding unaccompanied youth reached a fevered pitch. Traveling alone and often fleeing escalating violence in their home countries, unaccompanied youth—undocumented minors under the age of 18 who are in the United States without a parent or legal guardian to provide them with care or custody—became front page news. By the end of the fiscal year, nearly 70,000 youth had been apprehended by immigration authorities at the U.S.-Mexican...

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Aug 3, 2015 Sometimes when I tell people that it took prison to get my life right, they look at me as if I have lost my mind. However, the truth of the matter is that prison is where I found my mind. Twelve years ago, I was damaged. I lacked values and morals and, even more so, respect for myself or anyone that I came into contact with. I sold drugs to my own parents and robbed people for the little or nothing that they had, just because I could. I was a monster, and...

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Jul 31, 2015 "Justice is not only the absence of oppression; it is the presence of opportunity." These words were eloquently delivered by President Obama two weeks ago in a major speech on criminal justice reform. What better way to provide transformative opportunities, all while increasing public safety, than through expanding access to postsecondary education in prison? U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch today announced the...

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Jul 29, 2015 After spending a year researching police practices during protests and focusing in particular on protests in New York City over the past decade, I noticed that police are confronted with two very important, but sometimes conflicting, goals when it comes to protest policing. As seen in recent protests across the country, including a series of marches in New York City to mark the anniversary of Eric Garner’s death, police are charged with preserving public...

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Jul 27, 2015 Becky missed school to visit her childhood home with her mother, whose memory was fading due to a degenerative brain disease. Megan missed school because she was put on doctor-ordered bed rest due to pregnancy and delivery complications. Luke was tardy to several periods because he was taking long routes to class to avoid a group of kids who were bullying him because of his sexual orientation. Becky, Megan, and Luke were all charged with Failure to Attend...

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Jul 24, 2015 In a recent New York Times op-ed, Maia Szalavitz calls for the governors of New York and New Jersey to sign legislation guaranteeing that participants in drug court and other forms of mandated substance use treatment are able to access medication assisted treatment (MAT). An extensive literature supports the effectiveness of drugs like methadone and buprenorphine to treat opiate addiction and their use has been shown to help break the cycle of reoffending...

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Jul 20, 2015 It may come as a surprise to learn that 90 percent of jails collect revenue from the people incarcerated there. To learn more about this practice, we at Vera reviewed data submitted by 35 jurisdictions as part of our Price of Jails survey. We found that while common, it is not especially lucrative: collected funds support only about 3 percent of jails’ total budgets. We also found that on the other side of this equation, the payments incarcerated people...

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