Current Thinking

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Jun 26, 2014 In February, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative “to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential,” and established an interagency task force to work on it. Last month, the task force released a 90-day progress report to the President including an initial set of recommendations. Many of these recommendations align with work Vera and its...

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Jun 24, 2014 In response to an explosion in overdose deaths due to opioids, such as heroin or prescription opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, and in recognition of the immediate, life-saving role police officers can play when a person is at risk of overdosing, NYPD officers have begun carrying naloxone, a medication that reverses the effect of the overdose, saving the person’s life. More than 19,000 patrol officers will be equipped with a nasal spray form of...

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Jun 16, 2014 The surge of opiate-related overdoses in the United States is a pressing public health issue. An underrepresented aspect of this epidemic is the disproportionately high risk of death that people reentering the community from jail or prison experience upon their release. Public health and correctional agencies share a responsibility in preventing avoidable mortality and morbidity associated with these events. Vera’s Director of Research, Jim Parsons,...
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Jun 9, 2014 The Unlocking Potential: Perspectives on Education in Prison blog series—as part of Vera’s Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project—explores postsecondary education in prison and its benefits—during and after incarceration—through the unique experiences and insight of former students, educators, nonprofit heads, corrections officials, reentry specialists, and more.  Walter Fortson is currently a Masters of Philosophy candidate in...

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Jun 3, 2014 A jail cell covered in blood after an inmate-on-inmate assault. Unsupervised inmates playing with a handgun and injecting themselves with drugs. An inmate’s suicide caught on surveillance video that no deputy was watching. These are the images and stories captured in an hour-long public television documentary that examines the violence and troubling conditions of detention at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), New Orleans’s jail. It is these conditions that led...

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May 22, 2014 It sounds like the first line of a joke: "Three state corrections teams and some experts who are old hands at visiting prisons go to meet their warden counterparts in Germany and the Netherlands in mid-January to see what they could learn." But it's a true story—and what high-level delegations from Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania learned through the Vera Institute of Justice's European-American Prison Project is no laughing matter. What we learned,...
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May 16, 2014 It was gratifying to read Vera’s recent report concerning the sentencing and incarceration practices in Germany and the Netherlands—practices described as “organized around the central tenets of resocialization and rehabilitation”—as they are closely aligned with the practices adopted by the Hampden County Correctional Center (HCCC) in western Massachusetts. HCCC has codified its operational philosophy and practice in The Hampden County Model: Guiding...
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