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

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 ...

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  • David Pitts, Lionel Smith
February 05, 2021
Publication

The Cost of Incarceration in New York State

How Counties Outside New York City Can Reduce Jail Spending and Invest in Communities

Jail populations have fallen significantly across New York State, and crime has dropped as well. But spending on jails continues to climb. In 2019, the 57 counties outside New York City collectively spent more than $1.3 billion to staff and run their jails. Counties must cut jail spending and reinvest those savings in communities most impacted by ...

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  • Lauren Jones, Sandra van den Heuvel, Amanda Lawson
January 15, 2021
Publication

Series: Target 2020

Voters in Battleground States Favor Restoring Pell Grants for People in Prison

These battleground state voters seem to understand that reinstating Pell eligibility for the greatest number of people in prison is a sound investment in our future. Plenty of other influential voices agree. Bipartisan momentum to get rid of the Pell ban for people in prison has been growing steadily: Since early 2019, the Association of State Cor ...

Blog Post
  • Margaret diZerega
    Margaret diZerega
September 29, 2020
Blog Post

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