Centers: Washington D.C. Office
Vera opened its office in Washington, DC, in 2005 to serve as headquarters for the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons. Since June 2006, when the commission published its report Confronting Confinement, Vera’s Washington DC Office has expanded its mission.
The Washington DC Office now places all of Vera’s diverse capacities—research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance—at the disposal of partners located in or visiting the nation’s capital. It is also helping to bring Vera’s expertise to bear on important national criminal justice debates by facilitating roundtable discussions and participating in congressional briefings and hearings. In 2007 the Washington DC Office embarked on two major new projects. At the request of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC), Vera staff are working to help develop a set of federal standards to prevent sexual violence in prisons. The second project, Corrections Support and Accountability, is partnering with two states and three large counties to create systems of oversight that are tailored to meet the needs of their correctional facilities. More recently, the office has begun working with the District of Columbia government. Vera staff are helping the mayor’s office reform the district’s Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) system—the system that serves youth who have not broken the law, but whose chronic misbehavior has led their parents to seek government help. They are also collaborating with the district’s department of corrections to research the need for substance use and mental health treatment among people released from the DC jail.