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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...
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...
Jul 14, 2015 Thomas J. Dart is the Cook County (Illinois) sheriff. This post was originally published on the Safety and Justice Challenge blog.   It’s summer in Chicago, and crime rates tend to rise with the heat. That is likely to mean one thing—we’ll soon be consumed with headlines of senseless gun violence within Chicago’s distressed communities.   You would think that Cook County...
Jul 9, 2015 I recently visited a facility in California where I was told about a girl in custody who staff described as a troublemaker, refusing orders to sit down or cooperate with staff in any way. She was on the verge of being charged with new crimes in the facility for fighting with staff—charges that would likely have resulted in more severe punishment than her original offense.   But that week her facility happened to be piloting the only evidence-based health...
Jul 7, 2015 After decades of mass incarceration, policymakers around the country are realizing the unintended consequences of using the criminal justice system to deal with the social and public health problems of homelessness, drug use, mental illness, and poverty. Despite the advances of criminal justice reform, however, there are increasing efforts to criminalize pregnant women who are at risk for negative birth outcomes, particularly targeting women who use drugs...
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...
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...

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