Public misperceptions and corrosive messages about justice in the United States must be challenged and disrupted if we are to succeed in achieving systemic change. Understanding this, narrative change is a core priority in Vera’s fight to transform America’s racist and inhumane criminal legal and immigration systems. In this work, we are actively integrating communications campaigns that center the voices and experiences of people impacted by the criminal legal and immigration systems, feature groundbreaking research and analysis on the harms caused by centuries of systemic racism and injustice, and advance opportunities to create fairer and more equitable systems of justice.

ABC News segment

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Vera’s Jamila Hodge, program director of our Reshaping Prosecution initiative, was interviewed by ABC News as part of a featured segment on Nightline focused on the growing movement of progressive prosecutors fighting to change the criminal legal system by ending mass incarceration and healing impacted communities. Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner were also interviewed in the segment.

If Prison Walls Could Talk

If prison walls could talk

Vera created a dynamic collection of photographs, audio recordings, and essays to tell the stories of people involved in the criminal legal system and their loved ones impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These stories bring us behind prison walls, where social distancing is impossible and hygienic supplies are short, and provide an intimate look into system-impacted people’s personal challenges, fears, and hopes in the midst of a pandemic.

USA Today op-ed

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Vera’s President Nicholas Turner wrote an op-ed for USA Today that focused on how systemic changes in policing can make Americans safer and save money, ushering in a new paradigm of public safety that prioritizes investments in social supports. Turner noted that—in an era of persistent racial and economic inequality—our country is spending far more on criminalizing people than on helping them, a trend that can and must be reversed.

What Policing Costs

What policing costs

To explore the cost of policing at the local level, Vera compiled data from the fiscal year 2020 adopted budgets of 72 of the biggest cities across the United States. We created an interactive online tool that allows users to examine how police departments spend their dollars and explore how changes to each spending category could reduce the total. Where available, we included data on historic policing expenditures, racial disparities in arrests, and other enforcement practices.