New Research and Papers
"Transfiguration," by the Brazilian artist
Sócrates Magno Torres
Aspiring to the Impracticable: Alternatives to Incarceration in the Era Of Mass Incarceration
By Marsha Weissman, New York University Journal of Law and Social Change. May 2009. Weissman argues that in order for Alternative-to-Incarceration programs to reach their potential, they must be grounded in an understanding of the social, political and economic contexts of crime and punishment. She calls on ATI organizations to be proactive in identifying people who would otherwise be incarcerated, provide vigorous advocacy in support of alternatives to incarceration, forcefully confront the racial disparities that impact the use of incarceration, and forge alliances with communities most directly affected by the over reliance on prisons.
Blueprint for Criminal Justice Reform for NYC
The Blueprint is a comprehensive plan for improving how New York City's criminal justice system diverts individuals from incarceration as early and as often as possible, and assists those who have been incarcerated or under community supervision to succeed in reentering their communities. (May 2016). ATI/Reentry Coalition, NYC.
Children of Incarcerated Parents: An Action Plan for Federal Policymakers
By The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center (October 26,2009). The plan outlines promising practices and 70-plus recommendations for improving outcomes for the more than 1.7 million children of incarcerated parents. The publication reflects the work of an advisory board of criminal justice and child welfare experts, representatives of community-based organizations, and a bipartisan group of state and local government officials.
Among the federal action plan's recommendations are those that urge policymakers to:
* create federal interagency task forces and develop cross-system collaborations that address the risk factors of children of incarcerated parents and better link them to services;
* support new policies and practices in the criminal justice system that address trauma associated with a parent's arrest and their incarceration, which is often many miles from where a child is living;
* encourage measures that facilitate visitation when in the best interests of the child and promote permanence that takes into account siblings and other important relationships;
* address federal and state measures that make it more difficult for caregivers to obtain benefits and support for these children.
Coming Out of Concrete Closets: A Report on Black & Pink’s National LGBTQ Prisoner Survey
During the latter months of 2014, Black & Pink, conducted a survey of our prisoner membership. Nearly 1,200 prisoners responded to our 133-question survey, producing the largest ever dataset available on the experiences of LGBTQ prisoners in the country. The intent of this survey was to get some truth out from behind prison walls about the experiences of LBGTQ prisoners in the United States. Our report aims to share that truth by elevating prisoner voices, stories, and leadership to inspire immediate collective action.
Costly Confinement and Sensible Solutions: Jail Overcrowding in Texas
Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (October 2010). By Ana Yanez-Corera and Molly Trotman. This report offers more than 60 front-end and corrections-level solutions to help identify strategies that will reduce jail populations among Texas' 235 jails. Specifically, the report serves as a guide for county officials, policy-makers, law enforcement executives, attorneys and judges, pre-trial services staff, probation and parole heads, treatment providers, corrections personnel, re-entry specialists, and other agencies and organizations interested in creating more efficient and cost-effective corrections and diversion models throughout Texas.
Criminal Justice and Health and Human Services: An Exploration of Overlapping Needs, Resources, and Interests in Brooklyn Neighborhoods
By Eric Cadora with Mannix Gordon and Charles Swartz, 2002. Posted on the Urban Institute's website.
Defending Justice is an Activist Resource Kit that helps progressive activists understand and resist the Right, the State, and other forces that contribute to the growing system of courts, surveillance, policing, and incarceration. The easy-to-use chapters and factsheets are useful tools to draw upon in leading discussions and talking to the press. Through dialog and thinking together, we can create the best strategies for challenging the criminal justice system.
Defining Violence: Reducing Incarceration by Rethinking America's Approach to Violence
By the Justice Policy Institute (August 2016) JPI says it's impossible the U.S. will be able to lower its incarceration rate significantly without changing how the justice system treats violent crimes. "Defining Violence" surveys the current debate in state legislatures and Congress on criminal justice reform, noting where justice reform proposals have been mired down in debates over what constitutes a violent crime, how justice systems treat violent crimes, and how these debates have made it challenging to making lasting justice reform possible.
Downscaling Prisons: Lessons from Four States
Justice Strategies and The Sentencing Project, March 2010. Four states - Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York - have reduced their prison populations by 5-20% since 1999 without any increases in crime. This came about at a time when the national prison population increased by 12%; and in six states it increased by more than 40%. The reductions were achieved through a mix of legislative reforms and changes in practice by corrections and parole agencies. The reforms included:
* Kansas - Changed sentencing guidelines to divert lower-level drug cases to treatment rather than incarceration; Expanded supportive services to people on parole supervision.
* Michigan - Eliminated most mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses; enacted statewide initiative to reduce parole revocations and enhance employment, housing, and treatment services for people leaving prison.
* New Jersey - Increased parole releases by adopting risk assessment instruments and utilizing day reporting centers and electronic monitoring.
* New York - Scaled back harsh drug penalties, established Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison programs, and applied "merit time" credits to speed up parole consideration.
Evaluation of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (Prop. 36)
SACPA Cost-Analysis Report. Prepared by: UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Program. Proposition 36 Saves Taxpayers' Money: UCLA Study Finds Nearly $2.50 in Savings for Each $1 Spent on Drug Offenders Eligible for Treatment under the state's Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 (SACPA), or Proposition 36. Over a 30-month follow-up period, this represented a savings to state and local government of $173.3 million for people entering SACPA during its first year. For people convicted of drug offenses who completed their required drug treatment, nearly $4 was saved for each dollar expended.
Evidence-Based Public Policy Options to Reduce Future Prison Construction, Criminal Justice Costs, and Crime Rates
State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP). Findings
include: a systematic review of all research evidence to
identify what works, if anything, to reduce crime. WSIPP
found and analyzed 571 rigorous comparison-group
evaluations of adult corrections, juvenile corrections,
and prevention programs, most of which were conducted in
the United States. They then estimated the benefits and
costs of many of these evidence-based options. Finally,
they projected the degree to which alternative
"portfolios" of these programs could affect future
prison construction needs, criminal justice costs, and
crime rates in Washington.. They found that if
Washington successfully implements a
moderate-to-aggressive portfolio of evidence-based
options, a significant level of future prison
construction can be avoided, taxpayers can save about
two billion dollars, and crime rates can be reduced.
Finding Direction: Expanding Criminal Justice Options by Considering Policies of Other Nations
Justice Policy Institute (April 2011) examines the criminal justice policies of five nations – Australia, Canada, England and Wales, Finland and Germany –to provide policy options here in the United States.
"While naturally there are differences between these nations and the United States, there are enough significant similarities that U.S. policymakers should consider that some of their policies could work here," noted Amanda Petteruti, associate director of JPI and principle author of Finding Direction. “Simply put, these nations handle law-breaking behavior in fundamentally different ways than the United States. Instead of relying heavily on incarceration, other countries successfully use community-based responses, treatment for addiction, and services to ensure that once a person is released from prison that he or she does not return. There is much to learn from their experience and policymakers would be wise to study examples of success across the globe.”
The data included in the report indicates that while other countries choose fines, community service, probation, or treatment, the U.S. is significantly more likely to give a sentence of incarceration, even though it is more expensive and does not produce lower victimization rates. Further, when incarceration is used in other nations, the average sentence length is significantly shorter, with no apparent increase in offense rates.
Fact sheets: http://www.justicepolicy.org/research/2322
Freedom to Learn Campaign (IL)
Education is a basic human right and a game-changer.
Higher education transforms lives by opening minds and creating opportunities. Unfortunately, too many people incarcerated in Illinois prisons do not have access to quality prison higher education programs.
The Freedom to Learn Campaign believes Illinois can do better.
We advocate for the following: Freedom to Pursue Higher Education While in Prison. Freedom from Transfer. Freedom from Censorship.
Freedom to Continue Education Upon Release
From Prison to Home: The Effect of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities Incarceration. Reentry, and Social Capital: Social Networks in the Balance
By Dina R. Rose and Todd R. Clear, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Joining Forces: Prisons and Environmental Justice in Recent California Organizing
By Rose Braz and Craig Gilmore. Radical History Review.
Issue 96, 2006. An excellent essay by Craig Gilmore,
organizer and co-founder of the CA Prison Moratorium
Project and Rose Braz, national campaign director of
Critical Resistance. Their essay is a great combination
of organizing experience, solid information, no
rhetoric, inclusion/validation of the work people are
doing and analysis. The article focuses on the complex
organizing which took place to prevent the opening of
Delano II in California.
Keeping Kids and Parents Together A Healthier Approach to Sentencing in Louisiana
By Kim Gilhuly, MPH, Lee Taylor-Penn, MPA/MPH. In partnership with Annie Freitas and Syrita Steib-Martin, Operation Restoration. March 2018. An important report which provides the background on the need for alternative sentencing for primary caregivers and the facts and analysis to support Primary Caregivers legislation in Louisiana and around the country.
The Prison Book Program in Quincy, MA has developed this Legal Primer.
Contact them at: Prison Book Program, c/o Lucy Parsons Bookstore, 1306 Hancock Street, #100, Quincy, MA 02169, or read online using the link below.
Less Is More: How Reducing Probation Populations Can Improve Outcomes
By Authors: Michael P. Jacobson, Vincent Schiraldi, Reagan Daly, and Emily Hotez. August 2017. “The number of individuals incarcerated, under probation supervision, and crime rates have all decreased over the past few years. However the United States is still in an era of mass incarceration. This decline needs to not only be sustained, but significantly increased. Reducing the number of individuals under probation supervision by 50 percent in 10 years may seem idealistic, but looking to jurisdictions such as New York who have done this successfully shows that this idea is in fact pragmatic.”
Locked Up: Corrections Policy in New Hampshire/Paper 1: The Fiscal Consequences of Incarceration Policies, 1981-2001
September, 2001. New Hampshire Center for Public Policy's excellent analysis on state corrections policy and spending. Includes a focus on county jails as well as state prisons. Some really good graphics and charts as well.
Locked Up: Corrections Policy in New Hampshire/Paper 2: Options For Reducing The Prison Population and the Cost of Incarceration.
February, 2004. New Hampshire Center for Public Policy's excellent analysis on state corrections policy and spending. Includes a focus on county jails as well as state prisons. Some really good graphics and charts as well.
Make Them Hear You: Participatory Defense and the Struggle for Criminal Justice Reform
Three papers: Janet Moore, University of Cincinnati College of Law. Marla Sandys Indiana University Bloomington - Department of Criminal Justice. Raj Jayadev, Albert Cobarrubius Justice Project, Silicon Valley De-Bug. March 23, 2015
Minor Crimes, Massive Waste: The Terrible Toll of America's Broken Misdemeanor Courts
By Robert C. Boruchowitz and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Nationwide, state and local governments are wasting millions of tax dollars to prosecute petty offenses, creating huge deficits in their budgets and violating the constitutional rights of citizens haled into court. The report comprehensively examines misdemeanor courts across the country. It recommends that states divert non-violent misdemeanor cases that do not impact public safety to programs that are less costly to taxpayers and repay society through community service or civil fines. (April 2009)
Money Well Spent: How positive social investments will reduce incarceration rates, improve public safety, and promote the well-being of communities
Examines the relationship between poverty and involvement in the justice system. (Justice Policy Institute - September 2010) Using the District of Columbia as a case study to illustrate national concerns, the report focuses on the nexus of public safety and poverty: while poverty doesn’t cause crime, more low-income people end up in prison or jail. And while spending on education, treatment, and other services that help people improve their well-being have been shown to be a more effective public safety strategy than locking people up, between 2005 and 2009 state spending on corrections grew faster than any other category, including education, Medicaid and public assistance such as TANF.
Moving Beyond Sides: The Power and Potential of a New Public Safety Policy Paradigm
Partnership for Safety and Justice. By David Rogers and Kerry Naughton (December 2011). This paper is designed to foster critical dialogue and actual movement toward more proactive and thoughtful collaboration between crime survivor advocates and criminal justice reform advocates who have a shared stake in creating a system focused on long-term, evidence-based policies best equipped to create safe and healthy communities.
Moving Target: A Decade of Resistance to the Prison Industrial Complex
The Justice Policy Institute (JPI). This new report examines the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) -- the relationship between government and private interests that use imprisonment, policing, and surveillance as a solution to social, political, and economic problems. The report examines the progress of reform 10 years after Critical Resistance first launched its efforts to dismantle the PIC.
Proposition 36: Five Years Later
Justice Policy Institute report documents huge taxpayer savings through doing away with prison sentences in favor of treatment. That report said the program, saved California $173 million in its first year and $2.50 for every dollar invested since then. www.justicepolicy.org. April 2006.
Racial Impact Statements as a Means of Reducing Unwarranted Sentencing Disparities
An article by Marc Mauer in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law proposes the development of "Racial Impact Statements" as a means of assessing the impact of proposed sentencing policies. In Racial Impact Statements as a Means of Reducing Unwarranted Sentencing Disparities, he suggests that these statements have much in common with fiscal and environmental impact statements that have become commonplace at many levels of government. The goal of a racial impact statement would be to assess the projected impact of new sentencing legislation on racial and ethnic minorities prior to enactment of the policy. If the statement indicates that unwarranted sentencing disparities might be produced, legislators would have the opportunity of considering alternative means of achieving public safety goals that would not exacerbate existing disparities.
Reconsidering Incarceration : New Directions for Reducing Crime
By Don Stemen. January 2007
Current research on the relationship between incarceration and crime provides confusing and even contradictory guidance for policymakers. The most sophisticated analyses generally agree that increased incarceration rates have some effect on reducing crime, but the scope of that impact is limited: a 10 percent increase in incarceration is associated with a 2 to 4 percent drop in crime. Moreover, analysts are nearly unanimous in their conclusion that continued growth in incarceration will prevent considerably fewer, if any, crimes than past increases did and will cost taxpayers substantially more to achieve.
These outcomes raise the question of whether or not further increases in incarceration offer the most effective and efficient strategy for combating crime. Additional research examined in this report reveals several other variables that have also been shown to have a relationship with lower crime rates. An increase in the number of police per capita, a reduction in unemployment, and increases in real wage rates and education have all been shown to be associated with lower rates of crime.
Restoration of Prisoners' Pell Grant Eligibility Overdue
By Jason Burford, June 2008. An article on the organizing work of Jon Marc Taylor, PhD, incarcerated in Missouri, Charlie Sullivan of CURE to secure a NAACP resolution restoring Pell Grants to prisoners.
Smart Reform Is Possible: States Reducing Incarceration Rates and Costs While Protecting Communities
These past 40 years of criminal justice policymaking have been characterized by over criminalization, increasingly draconian sentencing and parole regimes, mass incarceration of impoverished communities of color, and rapid prison building.
This report highlights six traditionally "tough on crime" states - Texas, Mississippi, Kansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Ohio - that recently passed significant bipartisan reforms to reduce their prison populations and budgets. These states experienced declines in their crime rates while these new policies were in place. The report also highlights national trends in criminal justice legislation and offers a number of recommended ways that lawmakers in other states can reform their pre-trial, sentencing, parole,
and probation systems. Smart Reform is Possible serves as an exciting and essential blueprint for states on the cusp of considering the reform of their corrections systems. (August 2011)
Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress
The 2009 Criminal Justice Transition Coalition and 21 national organizations released a collaborative report identifying critical needs for federal policy reform. The report contains comprehensive policy recommendations at every stage of the justice system for the new Administration and Congress.
Included among the recommendations to overcome these challenges are:
• Eliminate the crack cocaine sentencing disparity
• Expand alternatives to incarceration
• Fund prisoner reentry through the Second Chance Act
• Extend federal voting rights to people released from prison
• Restore welfare and food stamp eligibility to individuals with drug felony convictions
• Analyze and reduce unwarranted racial and ethnic disparity in the federal judicial system.
Solitary Watch Fact Sheet: Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement
This fact sheet, which references research on how solitary confinement affects the mental health of prisoners with and without underlying mental illness, was written by Sal Rodriguez, who is working with Solitary Watch this summer as a reporter/researcher.
This is a Prison, Glitter is Not Allowed
The Hearts on a Wire Collective is excited to announce the release of a new report documenting the experiences of incarcerated trans and gender variant (T/GV) people in Pennsylvania. The result of a 4-year, community-based participatory research process, this report includes storytelling and statistical data to highlight the multiple ways mass imprisonment affects T/GV people as well as to recognize our creative strategies for resilience and transformative change. This survey was the first study of its kind in the US. Contact the Hearts on a Wire collective at: P.O. Box 36831; Philadelphia, PA 19107. (Book is in Scribd format; some browsers may not be able to render it.)
The $3.4 Trillion Mistake: The Cost of Mass Incarceration and Criminalization, and How Justice Reinvestment Can Build a Better Future for All
By Communities United, Make the Road New York, and Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, October 2016. detailing how the U.S.’s misguided criminal justice policies wasted $3.4 trillion over the last three decades that could have instead been used to more effectively address the root causes of crime and meet critical community needs. The report provides a national and state-by-state analysis of the country’s investments in police, prisons, jails, prosecutors, and immigration enforcement.
Turning the Tide on Mass Incarceration?
By David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center.
Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 9, 2011;
Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 11-141.
For the first time in forty years, the national incarceration rate is flattening out, even falling in state prisons. For the first time in three decades, the number of adults under any kind of correctional supervision — in prison or jail or on probation or parole — fell in 2009. At the same time, legal reforms that might have seemed impossible in prior years have increasingly been adopted, reducing penalties for certain crimes, eliminating mandatory sentencing for others, and increasing expenditures for reintegration of prisoners into society. And racial disparities, a persistent and deep-rooted problem in the American criminal justice system, after rising for decades, have begun to drop from their highest levels.
This essay examines these trends and asks what might be done to accelerate them. It surveys the reforms that states and Congress have adopted and look at the interplay of such reforms with the historic racial disparities that have characterized the criminal justice system. Cole then speculates about the forces that have contributed to these developments, including drops in crime rates, budget pressures, and, paradoxically, the war on terror.
Vermont County Develops Cooperative Regional Re-Entry Housing Plan
Six municipalities in Chittenden County (VT) have endorsed a strategic and targeted response to address the housing needs of people returning to the county from jail and prison. The Housing Plan was developed by a Regional Advisory Group convened by the Burlington Housing Authority.