Current Thinking

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Jun 11, 2015 The statistics by now are numbingly familiar. A quarter of the world’s population behind bars is in the United States—though we comprise but five percent of the world’s population. There is a broad boundary-busting movement to change this reality—it’s bipartisan, it involves people both inside and outside the criminal justice system, and it is headline news. One boundary worth crossing in this effort is our borders. What are other countries—the vast...

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Jun 3, 2015 Most discussions about the potential of criminal justice reform center on decreasing the number of people we put in prisons—state and federally operated facilities that hold sentenced people. Equally important, though often absent from these conversations, is the role that local jails play in our criminal justice system. The number of annual admissions to jails—which hold people who are awaiting trial or are serving short sentences, often under a year—has...

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May 27, 2015 Laurie Garduque is the director of justice reform for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In this post, she explains how the Safety and Justice Challenge Network was formed, and what the 20 sites selected are going to do next. The Safety and Justice Challenge is a $75 million MacArthur Foundation initiative to reduce America's use of jails.     When the MacArthur Foundation announced the Safety and Justice Challenge competition in February...
May 21, 2015 How much does it cost to house the 730,000 men and women in America’s jails? Seems like a simple enough question to answer, but the fact is, no one really knows. The U.S. government estimates $22.2 billion per year, but—as we found in our latest report, The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration—this amount excludes correctional costs borne by other government agencies, such as jail employee benefits and medical care for those...

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May 18, 2015 The Affordable Care Act (ACA) stands to increase access to mental health and addiction services for millions of Americans through expanded Medicaid coverage and other provisions, such as parity protections that require states to cover behavioral health services that are equivalent to physical health services. Newly published research, however, indicates that the ACA’s potential impact on substance use treatment will go unrealized without significant...

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May 14, 2015 On the evening of Sunday, May 10, Prince performed a benefit concert at the Royal Farms Arena in downtown Baltimore City in honor of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African American man who tragically died in Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) custody from a traumatic spinal cord injury during police transport. The concert was one of several events sponsored citywide that focused on healing in the wake of the peaceful protests and dangerous riots that...

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May 11, 2015 Congress recently introduced the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act (CJMHA), a bipartisan bill that improves the accessibility of mental health services for people involved in the criminal justice system, while at the same time increasing public safety. Introduced by Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) in the Senate and Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) in the House, this legislation reauthorizes—but also...

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