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Feb 5, 2014 Robert W. Wilson died on December 23, 2013, and Vera and all those who find themselves involved with the criminal justice system have lost an amazing ally and supporter.    Robert Wilson, 87 at the time of his death, had made a fortune as founder of one of the early hedge funds. He ran it successfully for many years but was determined to give his fortune away. While he was widely known for his support of the arts, Mr. Wilson also cared deeply about the...

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Feb 3, 2014 Billions of dollars are spent in the U.S. every year to incarcerate the largest prison population in the world, and with corrections costs soaring, more and more states are embracing justice reinvestment, an approach to criminal justice intended to lower costs, reduce prison populations, and reinvest savings into policies and programs that provide a better return on public safety.    The Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections...

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Jan 28, 2014 Tonight, President Obama will speak to the nation in his State of the Union address about opportunity, action and optimism. When thinking about opportunity, and the many factors that stymie it, it is long past time to address harsh sentencing laws and obstacles in the path of those leaving prisons and jails that disproportionately affect minority communities. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994...
Jan 24, 2014 Last week, the criminal and juvenile justice fields lost a great man. Alfred Siegel, deputy director of the Center for Court Innovation, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, January 16th. My colleagues and I at Vera’s Center on Youth Justice had the privilege of working closely with Alfred on a number of local and state juvenile justice reform efforts that aimed to safely and effectively reduce reliance on incarceration and improve the life chances of...

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Jan 9, 2014 People with limited capacity and serious medical needs often require guardians to help them navigate the many challenges surrounding health care decisions, finances, and housing. A recent incident in Scottsbluff, Nebraska shows how vulnerable these individuals can be to exploitation—even from the very people supposed to protect them. On November 25, 2013, a woman whose small business served as the legal guardian for more than 600 people was arrested. She...

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Jan 7, 2014 The Vera Institute of Justice is delighted that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Zachary W. Carter as Corporation Counsel for the City. A former U.S. Attorney, Mr. Carter has served on Vera’s Board of Directors since 1999. He resigned from the Board upon receiving the new appointment.   “Zach has been a wonderful, wise and insightful presence on Vera’s board,” said Nick Turner, Vera’s president and director. “The City and its residents are very...

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Jan 2, 2014 New York City is not immune to the nationwide epidemic of opioid prescription drug abuse, addiction, and overdose deaths. From 2000 to 2012, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased 222 percent citywide, and 10 percent of students in grades 7 to 12 surveyed in 2008 reported using these drugs recreationally. In addition, public health professionals are reporting evidence that some young people who develop dependency to prescription opioids...

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