Current Thinking

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Feb 8, 2016 It’s raining today in the District of Columbia. It’s the kind of light, misty rain that persistently dusts coats and umbrellas. It’s the kind of rain that brings with it a slight chill, but pleasant freshness into the air. For most of us, the rain ends when we make our way into homes, office buildings, restaurants, and various other places of shelter throughout the city. But for some of us, there is no relief—the rain is a dampening reminder of reality....

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Feb 5, 2016 In 1995, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in this country, 48,979 people died from HIV-related mortality. In 2014, more than 47,000 Americans died, not from an emerging infectious disease without existing treatment, but from drug overdoses driven in large part by prescription opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone. This parallel, on which The New York Times recently reported, highlights the new role that overdose has taken as one of today’s worst public...

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Feb 3, 2016 The Department of Justice released powerful recommendations to reduce solitary confinement. President Obama told us why it mattered in a Washington Post op-ed the same day. The Chuck Colson Task Force outlined changes that would—if heeded—reduce the federal prison population by 60,000. Just a few of the things that happened last week. And while Washington was buried under two feet of snow. For those of us working to reform our justice system, these are...

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Feb 1, 2016 The Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails blog series features the voices of various perspectives—from corrections officials and academic experts to advocates and formerly incarcerated people—examining the issues presented by the use of segregated housing and discussing promising strategies for reform.   Over the past few years, there has been a groundswell of support for reforming the use of solitary confinement—also known as...

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Jan 14, 2016 In 2012, the majority of the country’s metropolitan regions saw faster growth in suburbs than in cities. By 2014, it was estimated that more than half the U.S. population lives in suburbs. This incredible growth of suburban America has led to tectonic demographic shifts in these communities, which are struggling to keep up with the influx of immigrant populations. In particular, suburban law enforcement agencies have faced challenges with policing...

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Jan 12, 2016 At the close of 2015, two Republican legislators, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led the charge to effectively lift the federal ban on providing operational support for syringe exchange programs (SEPs). Because of the increase in potential funding, such harm reduction programs will now further expand across the country. This change comes as the United States is experiencing a troubling surge in the...

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Jan 7, 2016 I began my career by serving in different settings as a voice for system-involved youth—on advisory boards and oversight committees locally and nationally. In that short time, I’ve noticed that youth engagement, while well-intentioned, can fall into avoidable pitfalls. Some youth engagement efforts are superficial—they include a small number of young people (sometimes only one) in reform conversations—through advisory boards, taskforces, or councils—to...

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