Current Thinking

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Jul 6, 2015 The amount of money we spend to incarcerate aging and infirm people is staggering: In 2009, California spent more than $42 million in one year on medical care and continued incarceration of just 32 aging and infirm people who were chronically ill. Of these, 21 were receiving treatment in outside hospitals at an annual average cost of almost $2 million each, and 11 were housed in a Correctional Treatment Center bed at an annual average cost of $114,000 each...

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Jun 29, 2015 Earlier this month, I joined a group of leaders on the International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange study tour to view and learn about the German criminal justice system and German prisons. I lead a project, Safe Alternatives to Segregation, that works around the country on reforms to the use of segregation (commonly known as solitary confinement). Its goal is to minimize the use of segregation and other forms of severely restrictive housing for...

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Jun 24, 2015 “Breaking Point: New York’s Mental Health Crisis” is a powerful broadcast series about the intersection of poverty, mental health, and the criminal justice system by Cindy Rodriguez, of New York City’s public radio station WNYC. The Vera Institute of Justice is pleased to complement the broadcasts with a blog series that features the voices of experts from a range of fields as they examine how the intersection of poverty, mental health, and the criminal...
Jun 23, 2015 Lisa Simpson, who previously directed the New Orleans Pretrial Services demonstration project out of Vera’s New Orleans office, currently works with a team in the Public Safety Division of Bernalillo County. More information about Bernalillo County can be found in Vera’s recently released report, The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration.   By the fall of 2013, Bernalillo County, New Mexico—and the City of Albuquerque before...

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Jun 19, 2015 No country incarcerates more women than the United States. Although American women comprise just five percent of the total global female population, we represent nearly a third of the world’s female prisoners—a rate that outstrips even America’s unprecedented incarceration of men.   Shocking as that may be, our drive to incarcerate doesn’t begin or end with adult jails and prisons. The rates of girls in youth detention facilities shoot up even as male...

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Jun 18, 2015 It may sound like a small detail, but during the first of five days visiting German prisons, I was struck by the smell of fresh air. I am here for a week as part of Vera’s International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange project, and I have already seen many small details that form a clear picture of how different the German approach to incarceration is.   First, the fresh air. It is a luxury I find myself craving whenever I visit adult or juvenile...
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Jun 17, 2015 There is an important course correction happening in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. The tragedies wreaked by the levee failures on poor communities was paralleled by a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mitigate another harm those communities suffered repeatedly, a tragic overuse of local incarceration. the people of New Orleans and government leaders are seizing that opportunity. Before Katrina, and for most of the 10 years after, New Orleans...

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