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

Photo by Lucy Nicholson (REUTERS)

People in Jail and Prison in Spring 2021

Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) researchers collected data on the number of people in local jails and state and federal prisons throughout 2020 and into spring 2021. Vera researchers estimated the incarcerated population using a sample of approximately 1,600 jail jurisdictions, 50 states, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service (U ...

Publication
  • Jacob Kang-Brown, Chase Montagnet, Jasmine Heiss
June 07, 2021
Publication

College in Prison Adapts as COVID-19 Upends Education in Schools Everywhere

Daniela, who received her associate’s degree in 2014, says going to college and getting a degree while in prison gave her a second chance “to be who [she] always wanted to be.” But for decades, getting that second chance and accessing higher education has been a challenge for people like Daniela. The Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiativ ...

Blog Post
  • Margaret diZerega
    Margaret diZerega
  • Nazish Dholakia
    Nazish Dholakia
April 28, 2021
Blog Post

Second Chance Pell: Four Years of Expanding Access to Education in Prison

The Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015, provides need-based Pell Grants to people in state and federal prisons. The initiative examines whether expanding access to college financial aid increases incarcerated adults’ participation in postsecondary educational opportunities. This re ...

Publication
  • Kelsie Chesnut, ​Allan Wachendorfer
April 27, 2021
Publication

Looking Beyond Conviction History

Recommendations for Public Housing Authority Admissions Policies

Safe, affordable housing is essential for the millions of people released from U.S. jails and prisons each year. But most public housing authorities (PHAs) have admissions policies that prevent formerly incarcerated people from living there. For nearly all types of convictions, housing authorities exercise their individual discretion to set eligibi ...

Publication
  • Jacqueline Altamirano Marin, Erica Crew, Margaret diZerega
April 13, 2021
Publication

Mapping U.S. Jails' Use of Restrictive Housing

Trends, disparities, and other forms of lockdown

The use of restrictive housing (solitary confinement) in U.S. prisons and the rationales for or against it have been the subject of widespread research and debate. Much less is known, however, about restrictive housing in U.S. jails, due to lack of standardized policies, limited data, and the rapid turnover of people detained. Furthermore, many jai ...

Publication
  • Chase Montagnet, Jennifer Peirce, David Pitts
April 13, 2021
Publication

Close the Atlanta City Detention Center and Deliver Long-term Public Safety

In September 2020, the City of Atlanta engaged the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) to chart a path to close the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC). Vera met with key justice system stakeholders, service providers, and community advocates; analyzed data; and brought to bear evidence and examples from across the country to develop a strategy to re ...

Publication
  • Amy Cross, Elizabeth Swavola, Melvin Washington II, Sandhya Kajeepeta, Alex Boldin
March 01, 2021
Publication

Brooklyn Public Library’s TeleStory Video Visitation Program

A Process Evaluation

The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has taken on a number of functions adjacent to the formal criminal justice system, including reentry services and programs for the families of incarcerated people. One of those programs is TeleStory, an initiative by which families can use video equipment in the library to virtually visit a loved one who is incarce ...

Publication
  • David Pitts, Lionel Smith
February 05, 2021
Publication