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

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 ...

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

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  • Nancy Fishman, Stephen Roberts, Alex Roth, Melvin Washington II, Andrew Taylor, Amy Cross
May 29, 2020
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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 ...

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  • Jacob Kang-Brown, Chase Montagnet, Eital Schattner-Elmaleh, Oliver Hinds
May 14, 2020
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Series: Covid-19

Use this Data to Hold Your Local Jail Accountable During the Pandemic

Jails are places where people, even during ordinary times, are at greater risk of death. It’s clear that the best way to keep people safe is to let them return home. Although there have been some efforts to decarcerate, they have been too small. Now, using a new tool from Vera, you can hold policymakers accountable by monitoring jail populations ac ...

Blog Post
  • Christian Henrichson
    Christian Henrichson
  • Oliver Hinds
    Oliver Hinds
April 08, 2020
Blog Post

Series: Covid-19

Albany, Georgia Reduces Jail Population by 27 Percent in Response to Coronavirus

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the country, high incarceration rates in small cities and rural counties—often overlooked in discussions of mass incarceration—threaten to compound a mounting crisis. Decades of investment in carceral infrastructure, and disinvestment in public health, have brought us to a moment in which rural U.S. landsc ...

Blog Post
  • Jack Norton
    Jack Norton
April 07, 2020
Blog Post

Lessons from Second Chance Pell

A Toolkit for Helping Incarcerated Students Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell (SCP) experiment under the Experimental Sites Initiative, which allows incarcerated students who would be eligible for Pell Grants—a form of federal financial aid—if they were not incarcerated to access them while attending an eligible academic program offered by one of the ...

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  • ​Allan Wachendorfer, Michael Budke
April 03, 2020
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