Ending Mass IncarcerationReducing the Use of Jails

Treatment not Jail

It’s a truism by now that the criminal justice system, and jails in particular, are a dumping ground for people with substance abuse and mental health problems. We’re working to promote alternative sanctions and expand access to treatment.

That work features helping criminal justice and public health systems share data so that when people are arrested or detained their health records can be quickly accessed. In New York City, data sharing is becoming the basis for enhanced screening before people are formally charged with a crime. The goal: to divert more people away from jail—and perhaps out of the justice system entirely and into treatment. This is just one example of how we’re working with officials to fine tune practices that both curb incarceration and promote public health.

Related Work

Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Criminal Justice Reform Task Force

Report and Recommendations

For years, Oklahoma County has been grappling with an overcrowded and run-down jail. With discussions abounding about whether to replace it with a larger facility, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce convened a task force to examine the county’s local justice system and needs. Chaired by Clayton Bennett, chairman of the Oklahoma City Thun...

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  • Nancy Fishman, Kaitlin Kall, Hanna Dershowitz, Jessi LaChance, Stephen Roberts, Rebecca Silber
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End of an Era?

The Impact of Drug Law Reform in New York City

In 2009, the latest in a series of reforms essentially dismantled New York State’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of a range of felony drug charges and increasing eligibility for diversion to treatment. To study the impact of these reforms, Vera partnered with the John Jay College of Criminal Jus...

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  • Jim Parsons, Qing Wei, Christian Henrichson, Ernest Drucker, Jennifer Trone
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Nicholas Turner Testimony on Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans

Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety, to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Written testimony of Nicholas Turner, president and director of the Vera Institute of Justice, on law enforcement responses to individuals with disabilities and the potential for new approaches, submitted on April 29, 2014 to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. Addre...

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  • Nicholas Turner
April 29, 2014
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Using Administrative Data to Prioritize Jail Reentry Services

Findings from the Comprehensive Transition Planning Project

Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program partnered with the New York City Department of Correction to design methods for identifying people in the city’s jail system who were most in need of services to prepare them for reentry into the community. The result was the creationof the Service Priority Indicator—a simple screening tool for targeti...

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  • Jim Parsons, Qing Wei
October 01, 2012
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Zimbabwe: The promise of the community service order is forestalled by court congestion and political crisis

In the face of bloated prison populations and shrinking budgets, the call for more alternatives to incarceration has become increasingly common. One such alternative—the community service order—first took root in Africa nearly two decades ago in what may seem an unlikely place: Zimbabwe.  Admittedly, Zimbabwe is not a place people think of when dis...

Blog Post
  • Ram Subramanian
    Ram Subramanian
June 20, 2012
Blog Post