Ending Mass IncarcerationBringing Dignity to Life Behind Bars

Lessons from Abroad

For decades as the U.S. prisoner population swelled, officials here eschewed comparisons with their counterparts in Europe. That’s no longer true. Curiosity and genuine openness to new ideas are spreading. 

Two delegations of corrections administrators and lawmakers joined us to visit prisons in Europe, with the second trip featured on 60 Minutes. What they saw firsthand—the focus on rehabilitation over retribution and an underlying commitment to human dignity—is finding a foothold in the facilities they oversee. The visits are part of a larger effort to promote cross-cultural learning in an area of social policy where America hasn’t been on the leading edge.

Related Work

Series: Dispatches from Germany

Can We Learn from Our Past?

The Holocaust forced Germany to fundamentally change how it incarcerates people. In America, slavery morphed into mass incarceration.

The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime—a loophole that has continued the wide-scale persecution of black and brown people through the criminal justice system. The result is a U.S. prison system designed to warehouse and dehumanize people. From the length of sentences ...

Blog Post
  • Alex Frank
    Alex Frank
September 14, 2018
Blog Post