We encourage you to explore Vera's extensive resource library, built up by decades of expert research, analysis, and real-world application. Vera produces a wide variety of resources about our work, including publications, podcasts, and videos, dating from our founding in 1961 to the present. You can search these resources using the filters below to sort by type of resource, project, or topic. Enter part of the title in the search box to look for a specific resource.
Close to one in five people detained in the New Orleans jail are waiting for a court date to sort out alleged violations of their probation or parole. Such detention affects more than 2,000 people a year and costs millions of dollars to taxpayers. Vera’s New Orleans office analyzed one year of data from the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections to scrutinize the appropriateness of detention in these cases.
This technical report measures the number of affected people, identifies areas where detention could have been safely avoided, and recommends concrete practice changes to reduce detention where appropriate. It provides tools for the system actors who make detention decisions and informs ongoing discussions about the size of the New Orleans jail population and the appropriate use of the city’s jail.
Stable housing is essential to supporting a formerly incarcerated person’s successful return to his or her community. Until recently, however, most public housing authorities throughout the country have prevented formerly incarcerated people from formally returning to their homes or living with family members in public housing. In response to this issue, cities such as New York City, Oakland, and Chicago have implemented reforms in tenant-selection criteria that ensure a person’s application for housing is not negatively impacted by his or her criminal record. This fact sheet serves as a resource for public housing authorities seeking to implement policies that ensure public safety while providing people with criminal histories the housing stability necessary to break cycles of incarceration and homelessness.
While the national prison population has begun to decline—and states around the country have achieved reductions in their prison populations, their recidivism rates, and their crime rates—Tennessee’s imprisonment rate has climbed 256 percent since 1981, its prison population grew by 0.4 percent in 2013, and its violent crime rate ranks among the top five U.S. states. In response to these issues, and with support from the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) and staff from the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet, Governor Bill Haslam created the Governor’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism. This report is an overview and analysis of the work to date of the task force, including impact projections from the recommendations on the Tennessee Department of Correction’s (TDOC) prison population, where available. (Note: This is not the draft report of the task force, which the task force will receive for its review and comment later this summer.)
Vera partnered with Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center for Social Justice to conduct a research study that explores the needs and experiences of New York City’s unaccompanied immigrant youth. The study, Struggle for Identity and Inclusion: Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth in New York City, draws upon the personal expertise of these youth and system stakeholders, in collaboration with researchers and community service providers.
In this video, peer researchers who immigrated to the United States alone as minors discuss their experiences recruiting and interviewing other unaccompanied immigrant youth as participants for the study. Abja Midha, project director of Advocates for Children, and Elvis Garcia Callejas, advisory committee member of Catholic Charities New York and himself a former unaccompanied youth, further discuss the importance of including youth as partners in the research.
To learn more, please visit www.vera.org/unaccompanied-youth-nyc.
Youth have been arriving at U.S. borders on their own since the early days of Ellis Island, but it was not until the summer of 2014—when the number of unaccompanied immigrant youth arriving to the United States from Central America increased nearly tenfold from recent years—that “child migrants” became the topic of an urgent political debate. While local governments and legislatures across the country have shown interest in supporting unaccompanied immigrant youth through measures that increase their access to lawyers, schools, and healthcare, a lack of knowledge about their circumstances and needs presents an obstacle to policymaking and improving practical responses. Designed as a collaboration among researchers, youth, and community service providers, this study from Vera and Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center for Social Justice presents a firsthand account of unaccompanied immigrant youth’s needs and insights into practical challenges related to their interactions with key systems in New York.
Watch a video featuring the study’s peer researchers, who immigrated to the United States alone as minors, as they discuss their experiences recruiting and interviewing other unaccompanied immigrant youth as participants for the study.
The Vera Institute of Justice served as the independent evaluator of the nation’s first social impact bond – an innovative form of pay-for-success contracting that leverages private funding to finance public services – to fund the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) for youth at Rikers Island. Vera employed a quasi-experimental design to determine whether participation in the ABLE program led to reductions in recidivism for youth passing through the jail. Vera determined that the program did not lead to a reduction in recidivism for program participants.
Jails are far more expensive than previously understood, as significant jail expenditures—such as employee salaries and benefits, health care and education programs for incarcerated people, and general administration—are paid for by county or municipal general funds, and are not reflected in jail budgets. Drawing on surveys from 35 jail jurisdictions from 18 states, this report determined that even the jurisdictions themselves had difficulty pinning down the total cost of their local jail or jail system. It also highlights how the surest way to safely cut costs is to reduce the number of people who enter and stay in jails. In doing so, jurisdictions will be able to save resources and make the investments necessary to address the health and social service needs of their communities, which have for too long landed at the doorstep of their jails.
A new initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.
Segregated housing, commonly known as solitary confinement, is increasingly being recognized in the United States as a human rights issue. While the precise number of people held in segregated housing on any given day is not known with any certainty, estimates run to more than 80,000 in state and federal prisons—which is surely an undercount as these do not include people held in solitary confinement in jails, military facilities, immigration detention centers, or juvenile justice facilities. Evidence mounts that the practice produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed in isolation, for the public safety of the communities to which most will return, and for the corrections budgets of jurisdictions that rely on it for facility safety. Yet solitary confinement remains a mainstay of prison management and control in the U.S. largely because many policymakers, corrections officials, and members of the general public still subscribe to some or all of the common misconceptions and misguided justifications addressed in this report. This publication is the first in a series on solitary confinement, its use and misuse, and ways to safely reduce it in our nation’s correctional facilities made possible in part by the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust.
Attention is increasingly being paid to the disparities young men of color face in our society, including their disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice system as those responsible for crime. Little recognition, however, is given to the fact that young men of color are also disproportionately victims of crime and violence.
Vera convened a panel of experts to discuss the disparities in our response to violence, which included Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Representative, Eight Congressional District of New York, and Kenneth Thompson, District Attorney, Brooklyn, Dr. Richard Dudley, Psychiatrist, New York City, and Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear, Professor of Applied Theology, Howard University School of Divinity. The panel was moderated by Kirsten Levingston, Program Officer, at the Ford Foundation.
For more information about addressing disparities in our response to violence, please download our issue brief.
Incarcerated people at risk for sexual victimization need to be housed safely without losing access to programming, mental and medical health services, and group activities. The National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape emphasize that isolation be used to protect at-risk populations only when no other alternatives are available and all other options have been explored. To help agencies achieve compliance with these standards, Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, in conjunction with the National PREA Resource Center, has developed guidelines to provide prison and jail administrators and staff with promising strategies for safely housing inmates at risk of sexual abuse without isolating them. This guide includes approaches for managing the housing of populations at particularly high risk for sexual abuse in confinement: women; youthful inmates in adult facilities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) individuals; and people who are gender nonconforming.