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Germany and the Netherlands have significantly lower incarceration rates than the United States and make much greater use of non-custodial penalties, particularly for nonviolent crimes. In addition, conditions and practices within correctional facilities in these countries—grounded in the principle of “normalization” whereby life in prison is to resemble as much as possible life in the community—also differ markedly from the U.S. In February 2013—as part of the European-American Prison Project funded by the California-based Prison Law Office and managed by Vera—delegations of corrections and justice system leaders from Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania together visited Germany and the Netherlands to tour prison facilities, speak with corrections officials and researchers, and interact with inmates. Although variations in the definitions of crimes, specific punishments, and recidivism limit the availability of comparable justice statistics, this report describes the considerably different approaches to sentencing and corrections these leaders observed in Europe and the impact this exposure has had (and continues to have) on the policy debate and practices in their home states. It also explores some of the project’s practical implications for reform efforts throughout the United States to reduce incarceration and improve conditions of confinement while maintaining public safety.
What is the impact of stop and frisk on young people in highly patrolled areas of New York City, and what does it mean for public safety? Find out in this video as lead authors, Jennifer Fratello and Andrés F. Rengifo, discuss the results of their study "Coming of Age with Stop and Frisk: Experiences, Self-Perceptions, and Public Safety Implications."
Jamie Fader, assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany and author of Falling Back: Incarceration and Transitions to Adulthood among Urban Youth, discusses her research on incarcerated young men of color and the disjuncture between their aspirations at the point of release from a residential facility and the structural hurdles and realities they face upon returning home to family and community in an urban setting.
This interview is part of Vera's Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series.
Amid the debate about stop and frisk in New York City, its relationship to reductions in crime, and concerns about racial profiling, one question has gone largely unexplored: How does being stopped by police, and the frequency of those stops, affect those who experience them at a young age? In New York City, at least half of all recorded stops annually involve those between the ages of 13 and 25.
This new study from Vera’s Center on Youth Justice examines this question. The results reveal a great deal about the experiences and perceptions of young New Yorkers who are most likely to be stopped. Trust in law enforcement among these young people is alarmingly low. This has significant public safety implications as young people who have been stopped more often are less willing to report crimes, even when they themselves are the victims. The report includes a set of recommendations aimed at restoring trust and improving police-community relations. It also features an infographic summarizing the findings.
More than 700,000 people leave U.S. prisons each year, mostly returning to poor communities in urban areas. In this podcast, Bruce Western discusses early findings from his Boston Reentry Study that show prison precipitates a transition to severe poverty for a fragile population with often-traumatic histories of childhood exposure to violence.
Bruce Western is professor of sociology and director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Western's recent work has focused on the link between social inequality and the growth of prison and jail population in the United States.
This podcast is part of the Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series.
Gregg Barak sheds light on his book, "Theft of a Nation: Wall Street Looting and Federal Regulatory Colluding," a unique, criminological examination of the role of Wall Street and government in the 2007-2008 financial meltdown and its aftermath. Barak questions the lack of criminal liability for an economic collapse that wrecked capital markets worldwide and victimized millions.
Gregg Barak is Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Eastern Michigan University and the former Visiting Distinguished Professor in the College of Justice & Safety at Eastern Kentucky University.
This podcast is part of the Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series.
As the size and cost of jails and prisons have grown, so too has the awareness that public investment in incarceration has not yielded the expected return in public safety. This creates an opportunity to reexamine the wisdom of our reliance on institutional corrections—incarceration in prisons or jails—and to reconsider the role of community-based corrections, which encompasses probation, parole, and pretrial supervision. However, it could also be an opportunity wasted if care is not taken to bolster the existing capacity of community corrections. With this report, Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections provides an overview of the state of community corrections, the transformational practices emerging in the field (including those in need of further research), and recommendations to policymakers on realizing the full value of community supervision to taxpayers and communities.
Richard Gartner, founding director of the Sexual Abuse Service at the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Institute, discusses the long-term effects of boyhood sexual abuse. Dr. Gartner is the author of Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men and Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse. A pioneer in treating sexually abused men, he is a founder and past president of MaleSurvivor.org.
This podcast is part of the Vera Institute of Justice's Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series.
People involved in the criminal justice system have significantly higher rates of behavioral and physical health problems than the general population. The rate of serious mental illness among incarcerated persons is estimated to be more than three times higher than in the general population. A historical lack of coordination between justice and health agencies exacerbates the challenges of providing healthcare to persons and others involved in justice system, who experience limited access to healthcare both inside facilities and in the communities to which they are released.
To help close this communication gap, and increase information sharing between justice and health authorities, the Vera Institute of Justice’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program (SUMH) has launched the Justice and Health Connect (JH Connect) website. This initiative was made possible with support from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), which promotes information sharing solutions for state, local, and tribal authorities. The website—which includes a toolkit for designing information sharing initiatives, an extensive resource library, policy briefs, legal memos, templates, and webinars—is designed for diverse audiences and jurisdictions. These resources offer guidance on the type of data exchanges that are legally permissible, outline their potential ethical pitfalls, and highlight promising practices that maximize benefits to clients while reducing costs.
Click here to visit the website.
In this issue of The Guardian Reporter, a newsletter produced by Vera’s Guardianship Project:
- A young person with a disability socializes and learns basic life skills with the help of The Guardianship Project’s expertise in maximizing clients’ independence within community settings.
- Through intensive case and financial management, The Guardianship Project succeeds in keeping three elderly women, victims of financial exploitation, in the comfort of their own homes.
- A new collaboration with Cardozo Law School aims to contribute to The Guardianship’s innovative, holistic approach to guardianship care by addressing matters of policy and practice.
- Laura Negrón, director of the The Guardianship Project, shares news about how the project has grown, adding a Queens County office in addition to continuing its work in Manhattan and Brooklyn.