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.
Since 2000, at least 29 states have taken steps to roll back mandatory sentences, with 32 bills passed in just the last five years. Most legislative activity has focused on adjusting penalties for nonviolent drug offenses through the use of one or a combination of the following reform approaches: 1) expanding judicial discretion through the creation of so-called “safety value” provisions, 2) limiting automatic sentence enhancements, and 3) repealing or revising mandatory minimum sentences. In this policy report, Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections summarizes state-level mandatory sentencing reforms since 2000, raises questions about their impact, and offers recommendations to jurisdictions considering similar efforts.
What will justice look like in the de Blasio era? Our Kids - Our Future is the first in a series of panel discussions convened by Vera to assess New York City's justice systems and proffer solutions for a new administration. This panel focuses on juvenile justice and the practices that can reduce young people’s contact with the system, while improving their life chances.
Panelists include Gladys Carrión, Commissioner, New York City Administration for Children’s Services; Vincent Schiraldi, Commissioner, New York City Department of Probation; Rukia Lumumba, Director of Youth Programs, CASES; and Hernan Carvente, Research Assistant, Vera Institute of Justice. The discussion is moderated by Kathleen Horan, Criminal Justice Reporter, WNYC.
Learn more about Vera's Justice in Transition-NYC series.
New York City’s eight health and human services (HHS) agencies provide billions of dollars worth of services each year to more than two million people, many of whom are served by more than one agency. This brief first outlines the challenges of a system that includes thousands of contracts, numerous city agencies, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations, and the inherent inefficiencies that result from a system with so many autonomous stakeholders. Next, it discusses the policy changes and reforms that were designed to streamline the process and better address clients’ needs, and finally, it looks ahead at lessons learned and forthcoming issues that will need attention.
The New York City Department of Probation (DOP), in an effort to bolster public safety and increase the likelihood of a probationer successfully completing his or her sentence, implemented a series of reforms, chief among them the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON). The initiative aims to improve probation clients’ outcomes by locating DOP services within their communities, instead of in central offices in each borough that may be difficult to reach. This brief describes DOP’s recent reform efforts, and the strengths, challenges, and opportunities of NeON by drawing upon interviews with DOP leadership and staff and staff at several NeON sites.
Guided by research indicating that community-based alternatives are often more effective and less expensive and stigmatizing than placing juvenile offenders in institutional facilities, New York City has worked to reduce over-reliance on such dispositions and to ensure that those youth that may be placed in an institutional facility are in one near their communities to foster familial and educational connections. This brief describes the impetus and context of a series of related and ambitious strategies undertaken in 2012 under the Close to Home initiative, provides detailed information on each of the reform areas and the improvements seen to date, and concludes with a discussion of challenges and next steps.
Removing children from their homes is traumatic for all involved and research shows that entry into foster care raises the risk of long-term adverse effects on children compared to socioeconomically similar children who are not removed, including poor school performance, homelessness, arrest, chemical dependency, and mental and physical illness. Foster care is also expensive: the United States spends billions of dollars annually to recruit, fund, and supervise foster homes. This policy brief focuses on the child welfare reforms implemented in New York City from 2002 to 2013 that many believe contributed to the decline in the number of children in foster care (from 523,616 in September 2002 to 399,546 in September 2012). It also identifies challenges that the city is likely to encounter in the future in its efforts to sustain and expand these reforms.
When New York City began reforming its juvenile detention system in 2006, youth were either sent to detention or released into the community with no formal supervision. The reform effort had the complementary goals of ensuring that costly juvenile detention beds would be reserved primarily for young people who present measurably high levels of risk, and that others would be released or properly supervised at home and in their communities while their cases were pending. This report begins by describing the impetus and context for these innovations and reforms and then provides detailed information on their structure, strengths, challenges, and necessary next steps.
Zero tolerance discipline policies that mandate suspension or expulsion of students for misconduct have gained tremendous momentum over the past 25 years while also inviting deep controversy. With A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice looks at existing research about whether zero tolerance discipline policies make schools more orderly or safe, if out-of-school suspension or expulsion leads to greater involvement in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, and what effect these policies can have on a young person’s future. It concludes that, a generation after the rise of these policies and practices, neither schools nor young people have benefited. Fortunately, as described in the report, promising alternatives to zero tolerance can safely keep young people where they belong—in school.
Young people who run away from home, skip school, or engage in other risky behaviors that are only prohibited because of their age end up in courtrooms every year by the thousands. Responding to these cases, called “status offenses,” in the juvenile justice system can lead to punitive outcomes that are out of proportion to the young person’s actions and do nothing to assess or address the underlying circumstances at the root of this misbehavior. With From Courts to Communities: The Right Response to Truancy, Running Away, and Other Status Offenses, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice, supported by funding from the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Resource Center Partnership, aims to raise awareness about status offenses and spur conversations about how to effectively handle these cases by offering promising examples of state and local reform.
In the summer of 2013, the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) and the Vera Institute of Justice conducted an informal nationwide online survey of 1,226 state and local criminal justice stakeholder organizations. The questionnaire’s purpose was to gather information from a wide range of jurisdictions about the impact of budget cuts, both already enacted and anticipated. This document is a summary of self-reported responses.