Vera's Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC) works to drive change in the criminal justice system through research, practice innovation, testing new ideas, and policy development assistance to criminal justice practitioners at the local, state, and national level. The Center’s work focuses on developing and supporting balanced, fair and humane sentencing and corrections policies to reduce the overall use of incarceration; to transform the in-custody experience into one that can improve the lives of those incarcerated so that they return home to support their families and communities; and to ensure that prisons and jails are safe for those incarcerated and as well as those who work there. Most recently, CSC has embarked on Reimagining Prison, an ambitious 18-month initiative that aims to drive a national conversation on the purpose of incarceration and arrive at a truly transformative vision for jails and prison in an America that uses these institutions dramatically less than we currently do.

Related Work

In the Shadows

A Review of the Research on Plea Bargaining

Most criminal cases that result in conviction—97 percent in large urban state courts in 2009, and 90 percent in federal court in 2014—are adjudicated through guilty pleas. Of these, researchers estimate that more than 90 percent are the result of plea bargaining—an informal and unregulated process by which prosecutors and defense counsel negotiate ...

Publication
  • Ram Subramanian, Léon Digard, Melvin Washington II, Stephanie Sorage
September 09, 2020
Publication

Series: Target 2020

Postsecondary Education in Prison is a Racial Equity Strategy

Consider who is most impacted by mass incarceration: Black people make up 13 percent of the country’s population, but more than one-third of people in prison. Latinx people constitute 18.5 percent of the country’s population, but account for 23.4 percent of people in prison. Currently, one in three Black men without a high school diploma or GED wil ...

Blog Post
  • Margaret diZerega
    Margaret diZerega
  • George Chochos
    George Chochos
July 14, 2020
Blog Post

From Corrections to College in California

An Evaluation of Student Support During and After Incarceration

California is a national leader in providing higher education to justice-involved people. A key driver of this movement has been the Renewing Communities initiative, a joint project of the Opportunity Institute and the Stanford Criminal Justice Center that sought to expand access to higher education among justice-involved people in California, both ...

Publication
  • Lionel Smith, Léon Digard
June 10, 2020
Publication

Wayne County Jail – Report and Recommendations

For years, Wayne County has been working to resolve longstanding problems of overcrowding and poor conditions in the Wayne County Jail. Vera was engaged by the Hudson-Webber Foundation to conduct a study of Wayne County’s jail population in partnership with a working group of local justice-system stakeholders. The study involved analyzing quantitat ...

Publication
  • Nancy Fishman, Stephen Roberts, Alex Roth, Melvin Washington II, Andrew Taylor, Amy Cross
May 29, 2020
Publication
Photo by Karl Soderstrom

People in Prison in 2019

Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) researchers collected data on the number of people who were incarcerated in state and federal prisons as of December 31, 2019, to provide timely information on how prison incarceration is changing in the United States. This report fills a gap until the Bureau of Justice Statistics releases its next annual report—lik ...

Publication
  • Jacob Kang-Brown, Chase Montagnet, Eital Schattner-Elmaleh, Oliver Hinds
May 14, 2020
Publication