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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
At America's Expense: The Mass Incarceration of the Elderly
(June 2012) A report describing the costs and causes of the dramatic rise in our elderly prisoner population: The report uses original data collected from all 50 states and the federal system to demonstrate the high costs and meager benefits of incarcerating the elderly. The report also provides a fiscal analysis, conducted by the ACLU’s in-house economist, which estimates that states would save $66,000 per year for each elderly prisoner they release. Findings from the report include:
The elderly prisoner population is growing exponentially. By 2030, one-third our prison population will be elderly, amounting to more than 400,000 elderly prisoners; in 1981, only 8,853 state and federal prisoners were elderly.
Elderly prisoners are very expensive. Today, the U.S. spends about $16 billion annually locking up aging prisoners; in 1988, we spent about $11 billion on the entire corrections system. It costs $34,135 per year to house an average prisoner, but $68,270 per year to house a prisoner 50 and older.
The rise in elderly prisoners is due to severe sentencing policies, not increased crime. In 1979, only 2% of aging prisoners nationally had spent more than 20 years behind bars. Today, that percentage is as high as 15% in Mississippi and 25% in Ohio.
If released, elderly prisoners are unlikely to commit new crimes. As a national average, just 5 to 10 percent of aging prisoners return to prison for any new crime.
Boxed In: The True Cost of Extreme Isolation in New York
By by Scarlet Kim, Taylor Pendergrass and Helen Zelon.NYACLU. October 2012. The website includes the report, letters from prisoners in isolation, a tour of "Malone, NY", data on who is locked in isolation in NY, and conditions of confinement.
From the report: "Every day, nearly 4,500 prisoners across New York live in extreme isolation, deprived of all meaningful human
interaction or mental stimulation, confined to the small, barren cells where they spend 23 hours a day. Disembodied
hands deliver meals through a slot in the cell door. "Recreation" offers no respite: An hour, alone, in an empty,
outdoor pen, no larger than the cell, enclosed by high concrete walls or thick metal grates. No activities, programs
or classes break up the day. No phone calls are allowed. Few personal possessions are permitted. These prisoners
languish in isolation for days, weeks, months and even years on end.
It reflects how we allocate increasingly scarce public resources: New York spends about $60,000 a prisoner - or $2.7 billion on state prisons - per year. And it raises essential questions about how we value and protect human dignity.
Each of these concerns is directly implicated by an ongoing phenomenon behind New York's prison walls - the use
of "solitary confinement" as punishment on an unprecedented scale and for extraordinary lengths of time.
New York employs an unusual brand of "solitary confinement." Roughly half of the 4,500 prisoners in "solitary
confinement" spend 23 hours a day locked down alone in an isolation cell. The other half are locked down in an
isolation cell with another prisoner - a practice known as "double-celling," which forces two strangers into intimate,
Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in Arizona's Prisons and Jails
By Caroline Isaacs and Mathew Lowen. AFSC Arizona, May 2008. The report is the first attempt to catalog the use and impacts of solitary confinement for adults and juveniles in the Arizona Department of Corrections, the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections and the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail. The report is part of the national AFSC StopMax Campaign.
Callous and Cruel: Use of Force Against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons
Human Rights Watch (May 2015) A report about the use of physical force by staff on the hundreds of thousands of incarcerated people with serious mental health needs. The report draws on many sources – interviews with current and former prison and jail officials, current and former correctional mental health professionals, use of force and mental health experts, lawyers, disability rights advocates and academics with relevant expertise – though not on interviews with currently or formerly incarcerated persons. Their stories are derived from court filings in which they were plaintiffs or from newspaper articles. In a few instances, there were videos of the incidents described.
A Closer Look at Solitary Confinement in the United States
By Kalief Browder. Kalief Browder, 22, was arrested at 16 years old and spent 800 days in solitary confinement of his years in Riker's island without ever having been tried or convicted of a crime. His suicide was not long after he submitted this paper.
Colorado Department of Corrections Administrative Segregation and Classification Review
By James Austin and Emmitt Sparkman. The report was funded by the National Institute of Corrections. October 2011. From Solitary Watch on the report "The Colorado Department of Corrections houses close to 1,500 prisoners in "ad-seg," about 7 percent of the entire state prison population. That's significantly above the national average of 2 percent or less -- and if you factor in the additional 670 prisoners who are in "punitive segregation" as a result of disciplinary actions, the CDOC figure is closer to 10 percent. And four out of ten of the prisoners in solitary have a diagnosed mental illness, roughly double the proportion in 1999. The state's heavy reliance on ad-seg, including building a second supermax prison to house the overload, has put Colorado in the center of a growing national controversy over whether isolating prisoners creates more problems in the long run."
The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's
Prisons released Confronting Confinement, a report on
violence and abuse in U.S. jails and prisons, the
impact of those problems on public safety and public
health, and how correctional facilities nationwide can
become safer and more effective.
Cruel and Degrading: The use of dogs for cell extractions in U.S. prisons
A report from Human Rights Watch. October 2006. Policies in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, South Dakota and Utah allow guards to use "aggressive, unmuzzled" dogs to compel uncooperative inmates to leave their cells. It said dogs may be ordered to bite prisoners if they resist.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment: How A Savage Gang of Deputies Controls LA County Jails
A Report by the ACLU National Prison Project and the ACLU of Southern California. Principle authors: Sarah Liebowitz, ACLU Foundation of Southern California-Jails Project,
Peter Eliasberg-Legal Director, ACLU Foundation of Southern California,Margaret Winter-Associate Director, ACLU National Prison Project-Esther Lim, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Jails Project Coordinator. September 2011
Custody and Control: Conditions
of Confinement in New Yorks Juvenile Prisons for
Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties
Union take the first in-depth look at New York's
highest security juvenile prisons for girls. What the
report uncovers is disturbing: Upon being found
"delinquent," young girls from backgrounds of
intergenerational poverty, many of whom have survived
abuse and trauma, are locked up and again abused and
neglected, this time at the hands of the state. This
report documents the excessive use of a face-down
"restraint" procedure in which girls are thrown to the
floor, often causing injury, as well as incidents of
sexual abuse, and inadequate educational and mental
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Supermax Prisons
Author: Daniel P. Mears. May 10, 2006, The Urban Institute.
Executive Summary: Twenty years ago,
super-maximum-security prisons were rare in America. As of 1996, over two-thirds of states had "supermax" facilities that
collectively housed more than 20,000 inmates. Based on
the present study, however, as of 2004, 44 states had
supermax prisons. Designed to hold the putatively most
violent and disruptive inmates in single-cell
confinement for 23 hours per day, often for an
indefinite period of time, these facilities have been
lightning rods for controversy. Economic considerations
are one reason- supermaxes typically cost two or three
times more to build and operate than traditional
maximum security prisons. A perhaps bigger reason lies
in the criticism by some that supermax confinement is
unconstitutional and inhumane. While proponents and
opponents of supermax prisons debate such issues, a
fundamental set of questions has gone largely
unexamined: What exactly are the goals of supermax
prisons? How, if at all, are these goals achieved? And
what are their unintended impacts?
Improvements Needed in Bureau of Prisons' Monitoring and Evaluation of Impact of Segregated Housing
Government Accounting Office report on the (over) use of segregation by the Bureau of Prisons.
"BOP has not assessed the impact of segregated housing on institutional safety or the impacts of long-term segregation on inmates. In January 2013, BOP authorized a study of segregated housing; however, it is unclear to what extent the study will assess the extent to which segregated housing units contribute to institutional safety. As of January 2013, BOP is considering conducting mental health case reviews for inmates held in SHUs or ADX for more than 12 continuous months. However, without an assessment of the impact of segregation on institutional safety or study of the long-term impact of segregated housing on inmates, BOP cannot determine the extent to which segregated housing achieves its stated purpose to protect inmates, staff and the general public."
It’s About Time: Aging Prisoners, Increasing Costs, and Geriatric Release
By Tina Chiu. Vera Institute for Justice. April 2010. The report examines statutes related to geriatric release in 15 states and the District of Columbia, identifies factors that help explain the discrepancy, and offers recommendations for those who would address it. Harsh sentencing policies have made correctional facilities throughout the United States home to a growing number of older adults. Yet most states with provisions for releasing older prisoners rarely use them, despite the relatively low risk eligible inmates would pose to public safety and the opportunity for potential cost savings.
Lifetime in Lockdown: How Isolation Conditions Impact Prisoner Reentry
By Dr. Brackette F. Williams. Arizona AFSC, August 2012. The study finds that spending time in solitary leaves people "deeply traumatized and essentially socially disabled." These "crippling symptoms" combine with "the extensive legal and structural barriers to successful reentry" to create "recipe for failure." It is hardly surprising, then, that the report is able to "directly link conditions in Arizona’s supermax prisons with the state’s high recidivism rate."
More Mentally Ill Persons are In Jails and Prisons Than In Hospital
A new report by The Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association. May 2010 Findings are based on 2004 and 2005 data from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice report indicating that 16 percent of prisoners have mental illness today compared with 6.4 percent in 1983.
Presumption of Guilt: The Global Overuse of Pretrial Detention
September 2014, Open Society Justice Initiative.
Around the world, millions are effectively punished before they are tried. Legally entitled to be considered innocent and released pending trial, many accused are instead held in pretrial detention, where they are subjected to torture, exposed to life threatening disease, victimized by violence, and pressured for bribes. It is literally worse than being convicted: pretrial detainees routinely experience worse conditions than sentenced prisoners. The suicide rate among pretrial detainees is three times higher than among convicted prisoners, and ten times that of the outside community. Pretrial detention harms individuals, families, and communities; wastes state resources and human potential; and undermines the rule of law.
Solitary Confinement: Common Misconceptions and Emerging Safe Alternatives
Alison Shames, Jessa Wilcox, Ram Subramanian. May 2015. The Vera Institute of Justice. This publication is the first in a series on solitary confinement, its use and misuse, and ways to safely reduce it in our nation's prisons.
A Solitary Failure: The Waste, Cost and Harm of Solitary Confinement in Texas
(Report, February 2015), TX ACLU and the TX Civil Rights Project. The report criticized Texas for keeping 4.4 percent of its inmates in solitary confinement — 6,564 in September 2014, or more than the combined prison population of 12 states.
Testimonies of Torture in New Jersey Prisons: Evidence of Human Rights Violations
A collection of testimonies from prisoners in New Jersey prisons, documenting uses of physical, chemical, and no-touch torture, among other human rights abuses. Edited by Bonnie Kerness, American Friends Service Committee, Prison Watch Program. Feb. 2015
Torture in United States Prisons: Evidence of Human Rights Violations
2nd Edition. Edited by: Bonnie Kerness, Coordinator, Prison Watch and Editorial Assistant: Beth Breslaw
Intern, Prison Watch © 2011 American Friends Service Committee Northeast Region, Prison Watch Project
U.S.A. Cruel Isolation: Amnesty International's Concerns About Conditions in Arizona Maximum Security Prisons
(April 2012) This report describes Amnesty International's concerns relating to the conditions under which prisoners are confined in the Special Management Units (SMU) of Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Eyman and other maximum custody facilities operated by the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC).
Worse Than Second-Class: Solitary Confinement of Women in the United States
ACLU April 2014. More than 200,000 women are locked in jails and prisons in the United States. These prisoners are routinely subjected to solitary confinement, spending at least 22 hours a day without human interaction for days, weeks, or months at a time. And yet, the solitary confinement of women is often overlooked.
The Center for Media and Democracy. Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations.
Alabama Prison Crisis
An in-depth report on sentencing and correctional policy. Justice Strategies, October 31, 2005.
An Analysis of United States Compassionate Release Laws: Towards a Rights-Based Response for Diverse Elders and Their Families and Communities
Co-authored by Dr. Maschi (PhD, LCSW, ACSW), Alexandra Kalmanofsky (MSW Candidate, Fordham University), Kimberly Westcott, PhD, JD, MSW (Legal Counsel, Community Service Society), Lauren Pappacena (MSW Candidate, Fordham University) and features photography by Ron Levine (Ron Levine Photography). May 2015.
Balanced Justice: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Criminal Justice Policy
By Jennifer Rosenberg and Sara Mark. Policy Brief No. 11, October 2011. Center on the Administration of Criminal Law and Institute for Policy Integrity, New York University School of Law. "Cost-benefit analysis can help reform outmoded ways of thinking about criminal justice, and rationalize criminal justice policymaking. It offers a systematized approach for gathering all available information, looking at competing courses of action, and anticipating their likely consequences. It provides policymakers with hard data on the utility and cost-effectiveness of alternative options."
The California Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice Interactive Map
A wealth of statistics detailing the different levels at which California's 58 counties send their residents to correctional institutions. Explore the interactive map to view population-adjusted rates of adult and juvenile arrests and incarcerations. In 2009, CJCJ launched the California Sentencing Institute (CASI) as the foundation for data and research driven commentary on the broader public safety dialogue. The interactive map reveals detailed crime and incarceration trends.
In the face of some of the most sweeping reforms in California, including AB 109 adult realignment and continued juvenile justice realignment, these data are even more crucial to understanding the justice system and improving public safety. CJCJ designed CASI to be used by county agencies, practitioners, criminal justice stakeholders, researchers, and the general public to provide comprehensive analysis of sentencing policies and practices across the state.
California Prison Reform: Inmates, I.T., and Health Care
What role computer technology, electronic medical records could or should play in the California's medical receivership's work. How can a system of 33 prisons run on shared typewriters and decomissioned printers hope to track inmate health care records? 3 articles written by Kim Nash, CIO magazine. April 2008
Catholic Bishops of the South on the Criminal Justice:Challenges for the Criminal Justice Process in the South
Part of a series of pastoral statements by Catholic Bishops of the South on the Criminal Justice process.
Changing Direction? State Sentencing Reforms 2004-2006
Finds that at least 22 states have enacted sentencing reforms in the past three years. The report further identifies that the most popular approach for reducing prison crowding -- implemented by 13 states -- was the diversion of low-level drug offenders from prison to drug treatment programs. The Sentencing Project, March 2007.
Collateral Costs: Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility
By Bruce Western and Becky Pettit (September 2010).
The report details the financial damage incarceration does to prisoners and the broader economic opportunity locked up in America's prisons. The United States currently jails one in every 100 adults - the highest rate in the world. That costs one in every 15 state general fund dollars, more than $50 billion a year. Prison isn't just costly to the taxpayer. It's also costly to the prisoner. Time in jail reduces an prisoner's earnings 40 percent, on average. It limits their future economic mobility. And it hurts the fortunes of their children - a lot of children, given that 1 in every 28 has a parent behind bars (including one in nine black children).
On average, incarceration eliminates more than half the earnings a white man would otherwise have made through age 48, and 41 and 44 percent of the earnings for Hispanic and black men, respectively," the report says. "Of note, these losses do not include earnings forfeited during incarceration; they reflect instead a sizable lifelong earnings gap between former inmates and those never incarcerated."
The report also notes that the United States incarcerates so many working-age people - 2.3 million of them - that it distorts the employment and unemployment figures. "[C]onventional methods of assessing employment exclude the men and women behind bars, resulting in an incomplete picture," the report says. The biggest impact is on the employment-to-population ratio, a way of gauging how economically productive the workforce is. When prisoners are included in the standard calculation, the EPOP changes dramatically. For working-age black men, it falls from 67 to 61 percent. For 20 to 34-year-old black men, it falls from 66 to 58 percent. Jail has become so common for black men, in fact, that they are more likely to be in jail than at work, if they are young and don't have a high-school diploma.
Continuing Fiscal Crisis in Corrections (44 states surveyed)
Vera Institute (October 2010). "To help legislators and other policy makers understand state's responses both to the fiscal crisis and to unsatisfactory outcomes of earlier policies and investments, the Vera institute of Justice surveyed state corrections officials about their planned appropriations for fiscal year 2011. Staff from Vera's Center on Sentencing and Corrections assessed current spending plans and reviewed state legislative action in 2009 and 2010 to look for new trends in corrections policies. the first half of this report describes the immediate actions states have taken to reduce costs. the second half looks at legislative reforms aimed at reducing corrections spending over the long term."
Court Debt and Related Incarceration in Rhode Island from 2005 to 2007
By Nick Horton, Rhode Island Family Life Center. According to the report, "nearly 2,500 people were sent to the state prison last year because they failed to appear at hearings regarding court debts, such as fines and court costs."
The Criminal and Juvenile Justice Policy Briefing Book
July 2006. The Criminal Justice Institute has created this "briefing
book" and given it to Massachusetts political
candidates and the press. The "briefing book" includes
three sections - Snapshot, Questions and Answers, and
Research in Brief - on these topics: Mandatory Minimum
Sentences, Preventing Criminal Behavior, Offender
Reentry and Juvenile Justice.
There are definitely problems with this "Briefing Book" including language
(when will the ever get rid of calling someone who has been incarcerated
an "offender"), no specific mention of the special concerns and issues women
and girls face, unwarranted support of the Hampden County Jail (CJPC appears
completely snowed by Ashe -- even inviting him to be their keynote speaker!),
no mention real mention of how racism drives the incarceration of people of
color -- especially African Americans, and on and on. Still, it has some good
information and worth taking a look.
Demographic Patterns of Cumulative Arrest Prevalence by Ages 18 and 23
By Robert Brame, Shawn D. Bushway, Ray Paternoster, and Michael G. Turner. Abstract:
In this study, we examine race, sex, and self-reported arrest histories (excluding arrests for minor traffic violations) from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97; N = 7,335) for the period 1997 through 2008 covering cumulative arrest histories through ages 18 and 23. The analysis produces three key findings: (a) males have higher cumulative prevalence of arrest than females and (b) there are important race differences in the probability of arrest for males but not for females. Assuming that the missing cases are missing at random (MAR), about 30% of Black males have experienced at least one arrest by age 18 (vs. about 22% for White males); by age 23 about 49% of Black males have been arrested (vs. about 38% for White males). Earlier research using the NLSY97 showed that the risk of arrest by age 23 was 30%, with nonresponse bounds [25.3%, 41.4%]. This study indicates that the risk of arrest is not evenly distributed across the population. Future research should focus on the identification and management of collateral risks that often accompany arrest experiences.
Department of Justice 2010 Budget Likely to Increase Incarceration in U.S.
Overspending in law enforcement, prisons and under-spending in prevention, treatment and communities won’t yield long term improvements, will cause increased costs for states. May 2009. The President’s Department of Justice (DOJ) budget will likely lead to growing incarceration rates, according to an analysis by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), a Washington, D.C.-based public policy organization. JPI’s analysis of the budgets released by the Administration late last week points to increases in spending for law enforcement and decreases in juvenile justice expenditures – what research says is the opposite of what is needed to have a long term impact on public safety and the number of people incarcerated in the United States.
Distinguishing Race Effects on Pre-Trial Release and Sentencing Decisions
By John Wooldrigde. Justice Quarterly
Volume 29, Issue 1, 2012. A recent study examined the effect of race on releasing defendants on their own recognizance, bond amounts, and prison sentences. The analyses are based on over 5,000 felony defendants in an urban Ohio jurisdiction. Wooldridge found a main effect of race on each of the three outcomes, but these main effects were better explained by offense severity. Analyses of interaction effects, on the other hand, showed that African American males ages 18--29 experienced lower odds of being released on their own recognizance, higher bond amounts, and higher odds of incarceration in prison relative to other demographic subgroups, even with the inclusion of rigorous controls for legally relevant criteria. In other words, being a young male provided an additional hardship beyond any general race group differences that might have been explained by legal factors.
Domestic Criminal Justice Issues and the ICCPR
A 2006 report by The Sentencing
Project to the United Nations' Human Rights
Committee regarding the United States' compliance with
dictates specified in the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Criminal
Justice Policy Foundation, Open Society Policy Center,
Penal Reform International, and The Sentencing Project
contributed statements for the section, and other
national organizations endorsed its recommendations.
Key findings in this section include:
The United States fails to adequately fund a viable
public defense system, which jeopardizes the fairness
of criminal court proceedings and increases the
likelihood of erroneous conviction;
Mandatory minimum sentences exacerbate racial inequality
in the criminal justice system and have devastating
consequences for the African American community;
The American correctional system fails to protect
basic human rights in prison, primarily through overcrowding,
violence, inadequate programming, and confinement
in “supermax” prison facilities;
The practice of routinely prosecuting juveniles
in adult criminal court, in some cases subjecting
children to sentences of life without parole, continues
in the U.S. despite guarantees in the ICCPR for its
occurrence to be limited to “exceptional circumstances.”
Economic Impacts of Prison Growth
By Suzanne M. Kirchhoff. April 2010. Congressional Research Service. A good basic overview of prison growth, private prisons and privatized services and the promises made to rural communities. Not a report boosting privatization or benefits to rural communities.
Education from the Inside, Out: The Multiple Benefits of College Programs in Prison
A report examining the multiple benefits of in-prison college programs. The Correctional Association of New York. In addition to conversations with formerly incarcerated people and program practitioners, the paper includes a survey of statistically-based studies supporting the significance of post-secondary correctional education in reducing recidivism and improving prison management. A look at programs in NY and other stages. The report includes a full examination of the tangible benefits of post-secondary correctional education. January 2009.
Education vs. Incarceration (state by state --- community colleges vs. prisons)
Since the 1980s, the United States has aggressively pursued incarceration. The reliance on incarceration has also distorted public policy. This emphasis has devestated individual lives and entire neighborhoods. For many rural communities, prisons have become the focial point of economic development efforts -- this depite mounting evidence that prisons do not contribute to employment growth. While urban neighborhoods have been blighted, with investments in social and educational facilities drying up, millions of dollars have been spent to incarcerate people growing up in these same neighborhoods. One of the more pernicious trade-offs has centered on education. With state and federal spending tilted towards incarceration, education budgets have been squeezed. In the early 21st Century, as young people come of are in the United States, risks of incarceration are pronounced, but opportunities for education have stagnated.
This commitment to incarceration is not a response to growing violence; it is driven by harsh penalties for non-violent crime (especially those associated with drug use). These two charts (see below) contrast trends in homicide and incarceration rates in the United States -- before and after the "war on drugs" (circa 1980).
Ex-Offenders and the Labor Market
By John Schmitt and Kris Warner, Nov 2010. Center for Economic and Policy Research. The authors use Bureau of Justice Statistics data to estimate that, in 2008, the United States had between 12 and 14 million ex-offenders of working age. Because a prison record or felony conviction greatly lowers ex-offenders’ prospects in the labor market, they estimate that this large population lowered the total male employment rate that year by 1.5 to 1.7 percentage points. In GDP terms, these reductions in employment cost the U.S. economy between $57 and $65 billion in lost output.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums Omnibus Survey
A new poll released 9-25-08 shows widespread support for ending mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenses and that Americans will vote for candidates who feel the same way. Fully 78 percent of Americans (nearly eight in 10) agree that courts - not Congress - should determine an individual's prison sentence. Six in 10 (59 percent) oppose mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. A majority of Americans (57 percent) polled said they would likely vote for a candidate for Congress who would eliminate all mandatory minimums for nonviolent crimes.
Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States
The Sentencing Project (July 2014). Key findings of the report include:
-New York and New Jersey led the nation by reducing their prison populations by 26% between 1999 and 2012, a period in which the nationwide state prison population rose by 10%.
-California experienced a 23% reduction in its prison population between 2006 and 2012, in contrast to just a 1% reduction nationally. Recent reforms have reduced the state’s total incarcerated population even while diverting many individuals to county jails.
-While downsizing their prisons, violent crime rates fell at a greater rate in these three states than they did nationwide. Property crime rates also decreased in New York and New Jersey more than they did nationwide, while California’s reduction was slightly lower than the national average.
Gideon at 50: Three Reforms to Revive the Right to Counsel
By Thomas Giovanni, Roopal Patel
Brennan Center for Justice (April 2013)
In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court recognized the constitutional right to an attorney for criminal defendants who could not afford one. But that was 50 years ago. Our criminal justice system has grown dramatically since then — without the funding necessary for public defenders to keep up with growing caseloads and resource demands. Today, public defense offices are so overworked and underfunded that clients are not getting the legal defense they were guaranteed, further feeding our nation’s mass incarceration problem. In this report, Thomas Giovanni and Roopal Patel examine the numerous challenges public defenders face in providing legal representation to poor clients and propose three common sense solutions to ensure poor defendants get the legal representation they need."
The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences
Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration. Jemery Travis and Bruce Western and Steve Redburn Editors. National Research Council. April 2014. A comprehensive review of data led the committee that wrote the report to conclude that the costs of the current rate of incarceration outweigh the benefits. The committee recommended that federal and state policymakers re-examine policies requiring mandatory and long sentences, as well as take steps to improve prison conditions and to reduce unnecessary harm to the families and communities of those incarcerated. In addition, it recommended a reconsideration of drug crime policy, given the apparently low effectiveness of a heightened enforcement strategy that resulted in a tenfold increase in the incarceration rate for drug offenses from 1980 to 2010 — twice the rate for other crimes.
The report notes that deciding whether incarceration is justified requires an analysis of social costs versus benefits. This equation should weigh the importance of recognizing the harm experienced by crime victims, appropriately addressing those harms, and reinforcing society's disapproval of criminal behavior. However, the committee stressed that future policy decisions should not only be based on empirical evidence but also should follow these four guiding principles, which have been notably absent from recent policy debates on the proper use of prisons
Proportionality: Criminal offenses should be sentenced in proportion to their seriousness.
Parsimony: The period of confinement should be sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve the goals of sentencing policy.
Citizenship: The conditions and consequences of imprisonment should not be so severe or lasting as to violate one’s fundamental status as a member of society.
Social justice: Prisons should be instruments of justice, and as such their collective effect should be to promote society’s aspirations for a fair distribution of rights, resources, and opportunities.
The High Budgetary Costs of Incarceration
Center for Economic Policy Research, June 2010. Estimates that cutting the incarceration rate for non-violent offenders would reduce state and local budgets by almost $15 billion per year, about one-fourth of their annual corrections budgets.
The study finds that the rate of incarceration in 2008 -- 753 per 100,000 people -- was 240 percent higher than it was in 1980, and the total increase in population was 350 percent. According to the report, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, a rate that is seven times higher than the average for other rich countries.
The study points out that some of the main causes of the rise in incarceration rates are policies such as "mandatory minimums" and "three strikes" laws that often lead to long prison terms for non-violent offenders. Earlier research on the connection between crime and incarceration suggests that state and local governments could shift non-violent offenders from jail and prison to probation and parole with little or no deterioration in public safety.
Among the key findings are:
* In 2008, one of every 48 working-age men were in prison or jail.
* Non-violent offenders make up over 60 percent of the prison and jail population; non-violent drug offenders account for one-fourth of all offenders behind bars.
* The total number of violent crimes in the United States was only about three percent higher in 2008 than it was in 1980. Over the same period, the U.S. population increased by 33 percent while the prison and jail population skyrocketed by more than 350 percent.
The High Cost of Corrections in America: Infographic
Pew Infographic highlighting data on America’s corrections system paints a troubling picture: despite recent state reforms, taxpayers across the nation still are paying too much for prisons and getting too little in return for public safety.
Housing and Public Safety
"Housing and Public Safety" finds that increased
availability of quality affordable or supportive housing
is associated with public safety benefits. The release of
this brief corresponds with concerns about the U.S.
housing market and economic stability. Key findings
include: Some studies found that substandard
housing--particularly where exposure to lead hazards is
more likely to occur--is associated with higher violent
crime rates. Studies have shown that exposure to
lead--associated with older, deteriorated, and
lower-quality housing--can result in increased
delinquency, violence, and crime. For populations who are
the most at-risk for criminal justice involvement,
supportive or affordable housing has been shown to be a
cost effective public investment, lowering corrections and
jail expenditures and freeing up funds for other public
safety investments. Additionally, providing affordable or
supportive housing to people leaving correctional
facilities is an effective means of reducing the chance of
future incarceration. States that spent more on housing
experienced lower incarceration rates than those states
that spent less. Of the 10 states that spent the larger
proportion of their total expenditures on housing, all 10
had incarceration rates lower than the national average.
Justice Policy Institute. November 2007
How New York Could Save Millions: The Potential Cost Savings and Public Safety Benefits of the Temporary Release Program
This paper discusses the incredible potential of the Temporary Release program to save the State millions of dollars while enhancing public safety. In fact, using DOCS' own figures, we calculate that if New York were to return to 1994 levels of participation in the Temporary Release program, the State would realize a savings of approximately $137 million a year. Center for Community Alternatives, NYS. January 2009.
Improving Budget Analysis of State Criminal Justice Reforms: A Strategy for Better Outcomes and Saving Money
By Michael Leachman, Inimai M. Chettiar, and Benjamin Geare. From the Conclusion: "Many states have not implemented rigorous methods for providing legislators the information they need about how criminal justice policy changes can affect their budgets. As a result, legislatures are less likely to enact reforms that might offer cost savings and broader benefits for a state's economic and social health, and they may be more likely to enact costly policies of questionable merit. With states struggling to restore or sustain funding for schools and other public necessities, they cannot afford to miss opportunities to simultaneously improve public policy and save money. And even when state budgets improve, states should, as a matter of sound policy practice, evaluate carefully the fiscal impact of policies they consider. Drawing on the best practices described in this report, states can improve their fiscal notes, giving legislators, advocates, the public, and the media more useful information about a bill's fiscal impact. These improvements will help states enact more rational and effective criminal justice policy and invest their limited resources wisely."
Inalienable Rights: Applying international human rights standards to the U.S. criminal justice system
by Nardos Assefa, Assistant to the Regional Director for Special Projects AFSC and Bonnie Kerness, MSW Coordinator, Prison Watch Project, AFSC Second edition, August 2009, (First edition, June 2003)
Incarceration As Forced Migration: Effects on Selected Community Health Outcomes
September 2008. Conclusions: High rates of incarceration can have the unintended consequence of destabilizing communities and contributing to adverse health outcomes. (Am J Public Health. 2006;96:1762-1765. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2005.081760)
Incarceration's Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America
Center on Sentencing and Corrections. On any given day in the United States there are 731,000 people sitting in more than
3,000 jails. Despite the country growing safer—with violent crime down 49 percent
and property crime down 44 percent from their highest points more than 20 years
ago—annual admissions to jails nearly doubled between 1983 and 2013 from six
million to 11.7 million, a number equivalent to the combined populations of Los
Angeles and New York City and nearly 20 times the annual admissions to state and
federal prisons. Not only are more people ending up in jail today compared to
three decades ago, those who get there are spending more time behind bars, with
the average length of stay increasing from 14 days to 23 days.
The report then focuses on six key decision points along the trajectory of a typical
criminal case—arrest, charge, pretrial release/bail, case processing, disposition and
sentencing, and supervision and reentry—to explore how the decision makers (from
police and prosecutors to judges and corrections officials) at each point currently
exercise their discretion and what they could otherwise choose to do to stem the
tide of people unnecessarily entering jails and to shorten the stay of those admitted.
Inmate Fees As A Source of Revenue: Review of Challenges
July 2011. MA. Report of the Special Commission to Study Establishing Inmate Fees. This Commission was established by the Massachusetts Legislature to study whether jails fees should be recommended. The Commission decided against recommending jail fees.
Jail Inmates at Midyear 2009 – Statistical Tables
(NCJ 230122) Written by BJS statistician Todd Minton. (Published June 2010)
As of midyear 2009, 767,620 inmates were held in custody of county and city jail authorities, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) During the 12-month period ending June 30, 2009, the local jail population declined by 2.3 percent (down 17,936 inmates). This is the first decline in the U.S. jail population since BJS implemented the Annual Survey of Jails in 1982. The number of male inmates decreased 1.7 percent (down nearly 12,000) and female inmates decreased 6 percent (down more than 5,900).
Jail populations exploding; massive growth devastating local communities
Justice Policy Institute, April 2008. Communities are bearing the cost of a massive explosion in the jail population which has nearly doubled in less than two decades. The research found that jails are now warehousing more people--who have not been found guilty of any crime--for longer periods of time than ever before. The research shows that in part due to the rising costs of bail, people arrested today are much more likely to serve jail time before trial than they would have been twenty years ago, even though crime rates are nearly at the lowest levels in thirty years.
Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2003
(04/06 NCJ 212260) Provides selected data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Annual General Finance and Employment Surveys. Data presented include police protection, judicial and legal services, and corrections expenditure and employment for Federal, State, and local governments in 2003 and national trend data for 1982 to 2003. Highlights include the following:
- The total number of justice employees grew 86% between 1982 and 2003 with the Federal Government having the largest percentage increase - 168%
- Total per capita expenditure for each justice function increased more than 300% between 1982 and 2003, with corrections having the largest per capita increase - 436%
- The total direct justice expenditure for all levels of governments grew from $3.6 billion in 1982 to $185 billion in 2003, a 418% increase
Life Goes On: The Historic Rise in Life Sentences in America
Ashley Nellis. The Sentencing Project. 2013.
Over 159,000 people were serving life sentences in 2012, with nearly 50,000 serving life without parole.
Key findings from the report include:
• One of every nine individuals in prison is serving a life sentence.
• The population of prisoners serving life without parole (LWOP) has risen more sharply than those with the possibility of parole: there has been a 22.2% increase in LWOP since just 2008.
• Approximately 10,000 lifers have been convicted of nonviolent offenses.
• Nearly half of lifers are African American and 1 in 6 are Latino.
• More than 10,000 life-sentenced inmates have been convicted of crimes that occurred before they turned 18 and nearly 1 in 4 of them were sentenced to LWOP.
• More than 5,300 (3.4%) of the life-sentenced inmates are female.
Life Without Parole, America's Other Death Penalty: Notes on Life Under Sentence of Death by Incarceration
Robert Johnson and Sandra McGunigall-Smith. Prison Journal, Vol. 88, Number 2, July 2008. Robert Johnson writes: "Life Without Parole is death by incarceration and should be used as our only death penalty and only with capital murderers."
Literacy Behind Bars: Results From the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy Prison Survey
This report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents findings on the literacy skills of incarcerated adults and analyzes the changes in these skills since the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). May 2007
A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses
ACLU Report. Nov. 2013
For 3,278 people, it was nonviolent offenses like stealing a $159 jacket or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana. An estimated 65% of them are Black. Many of them were struggling with mental illness, drug dependency or financial desperation when they committed their crimes. None of them will ever come home to their parents and children. And taxpayers are spending billions to keep them behind bars.
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.
MA Department of Correction (DOC) Advisory Council's Preliminary Report
Released on June 17, 2005. The 39-page document reviews progress made on eighteen recommendations set forth in the Harshbarger Commission on Corrections Reform (GCCR) report of June, 30 2004. It also includes recommendations for next steps and for removing identified barriers to change.
Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates
Bureau of Justice Statistics, September 2006.
Presents estimates of the prevalence of mental health
problems among prison and jail inmates using
self-reported data on recent history and symptoms of
mental disorders. It presents measures of mental health
problems by gender, race, Hispanic origin, and age. The
report describes mental health problems and mental
health treatment among people who are incarceratedsince
admission to jail or prison. Highlights include the
- Nearly a quarter of both State prisoners and jail inmates who had a mental health problem, compared to a fifth of those without, had served 3 or more prior incarcerations.
- Female inmates had higher rates of mental health problems than male inmates (State prisons: 73% of females and 55% of males; Federal prisons: 61% of females and 44% of males; local jails: 75% of females and 63% of males).
- Over 1 in 3 State prisoners, 1 in 4 Federal prisoners, and 1 in 6 jail inmates who had a mental health problem had received treatment since admission.
NAACP, April 2011. Examines America's escalating levels of prison spending and its impact on state budgets and our nation’s children. Misplaced Priorities tracks the steady shift of state funds away from education and toward the criminal justice system. Researchers have found that over-incarceration most often impacts vulnerable and minority populations, and that it destabilizes communities.
Moving Target: A Decade of Resistance to the Prison Industrial Complex
Justice Policy Institute, September 2008. Examines the progress of reform 10 years after Critical Resistance first launched its efforts to dismantle the PIC. The report examines the Prison Industrial Complex and the relationship between government and private interests that use imprisonment, policing, and surveillance as a solution to social, political, and economic problems.
Nation Behind Bars: A Human Rights Solution
Human Rights Watch, May 2014. To put those principles into practice, Human Rights Watch urges legislators at the very least to: Ensure that the severity of the punishment does not exceed the gravity of the crime; Reform or eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing laws that prevent judges from being able to tailor sentences to the individual crime and the particular defendant; Ensure that adolescents and children are treated in a manner appropriate to their age and capacity for change, and that they are not subjected to all the same criminal procedures and sanctions as adults;
Reduce or eliminate criminal sanctions for immigration offenders, especially those who have done nothing more than enter the country illegally; End criminal sanctions for possession of illegal drugs for personal use; and Ensure that criminal law is not by its terms or enforcement biased against any racial, ethnic, or religious group, as for example, in the disproportionate enforcement of drug laws against black people in the US.
National Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections
The Justice Mapping Center launched the National Atlas of Sentencing and Corrections—an online tool that shows a neighborhood-level view of where prisoners, probationers, and parolees are from and where corrections spending is highest.
The atlas serves as an tool for policymakers, the media, researchers, and members of the public looking for neighborhood-specific criminal justice data. Drilling down to single ZIP codes, users can learn the number of people in prison, the number released from prison each year, the number on probation or parole, what share of the state's total population this data represent, and the total dollar amount spent on corrections.
The atlas highlights the concentration of incarceration rates in disadvantaged communities across the country. Corrections data are supplemented by data regarding income level, employment status, the number of single-parent households, and racial demographics for each of the thousands of jurisdictions spotlighted.
No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the US
Human Right Watch. September, 2007. Laws aimed at people convicted of sex offenses may not protect children from sex crimes but do lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders. Human Rights Watch urges the reform of state and federal registration and community notification laws, and the elimination of residency restrictions, because they violate basic rights of former offenders.
The 146-page report, "No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the United States," is the first comprehensive study of US sex offender policies, their public safety impact, and the effect they have on former offenders and their families. During two years of investigation for this report, Human Rights Watch researchers conducted over 200 interviews with victims of sexual violence and their relatives, former offenders, law enforcement and government officials, treatment providers, researchers, and child safety advocates.
No Exit: The Expanding Use of Life Sentences in America
A report from The Sentencing Project represents the first nationwide collection of life sentence data documenting race, ethnicity and gender. The report's findings reveal overwhelming racial and ethnic disparities in the allocation of life sentences: 66% of all persons sentenced to life are non-white, and 77% of juveniles serving life sentences are non-white. The Sentencing Project finds a record 140,610 individuals are now serving life sentences in state and federal prisons, 6,807 of whom were juveniles at the time of the crime. In addition, 29% of persons serving a life sentence (41,095) have no possibility of parole, and 1,755 were juveniles at the time of the crime. Other findings in the report include:
* In five states - Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New York -at least 1 in 6 prisoners is serving a life sentence.
* Five states - California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania - each have more than 3,000 people serving life without parole. Pennsylvania leads the nation with 345 juveniles serving sentences of life without parole.
* In six states - Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota - and the federal government, all life sentences are imposed without the possibility of parole.
* The dramatic growth in life sentences is not primarily a result of higher crime rates, but of policy changes that have imposed harsher punishments and restricted parole consideration.
The Sentencing Project calls for the elimination of sentences of life without parole, and restoring discretion to parole boards to determine suitability for release. The report also recommends that individuals serving parole-eligible life sentences be properly prepared for reentry back into the community.
Old Behind Bars: The Aging Prison Population in the United States
By Jamie Fellner. Human Rights Watch. Jan. 2012. Includes new data developed from a variety of federal and state sources that document dramatic increases in the number of older US prisoners. Human Rights Watch found that the number of sentenced state and federal prisoners age 65 or older grew at 94 times the rate of the overall prison population between 2007 and 2010. The number of sentenced prisoners age 55 or older grew at six times the rate of the overall prison population between 1995 and 2010.
In addition to national statistics, the report contains data for 24 individual states with particularly detailed information for California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Medical Expenditures for Older Prisoners: The report contains data on prison medical expenditures in California, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Texas.
One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008
Pew Center on the States. February 2008. For the first time in the nation's history, more than one in 100 American adults is behind bars. The prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.
Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34. The report found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 are behind bars but that one in 100 black women are
One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections
Pew Center on the States.States: March 2009. Counting people on probation and parole, one in 31 U.S. adults is under some form of correctional supervision, including incarceration, according to the study. In 1982, 1 in 77 adults was under correctional supervision. States spend seven times more money on prisons than on probation and parole, even though the vast majority of the 7.3 million adults now under correctional supervision are not behind bars, according to the first detailed survey of state corrections spending since 2002. The new report focuses on the more than 5 million adults under probation or parole supervision, either because their crimes did not warrant incarceration or because they have been released after serving time. States, the Pew study contends, devote a disproportionately small amount of funding to the management of these offenders, when compared with what they spend on criminals currently behind bars - even taking into consideration the far greater costs of operating prisons.
The Other Death Sentence
More than 100,000 Americans are destined to spend their final years in prison. Can we afford it?
By James Ridgeway, Mother Jones, September 25, 2012.
Political Consequences of the Carceral State
Vesla M. Weaver (Univ. of VA) and Amy E. Lerman (Princeton). September 2010.
"Those who will be confined at some point in their lives now stands at 15 percent of the population, making veterans of prisons more numerous in population than veterans of military duty."
The paper focuses on people who have what the authors name as "custodial population"- any personal interaction with the police, courts and prisons--even if the interaction didn't result in incarceration.
"This paper explores the political consequences of the transformation in the use of punishment and surveillance. It argues that interactions with criminal justice have become an important type of political socialization, in which the lessons that are imprinted are antagonistic to democratic participation. Specifically, it is suggested that encounters with criminal justice institutions can negatively affect perceptions of government, rates of political participation, and engagement in civic life."
Preliminary Findings Concerning the Financial Costs of Implementing Illinois Truth-In-Sentencing Laws (2002 – 2004)
January 11, 2011. Prepared by: Joseph Rodney Dole, II. Joseph Rodney Dole, II is a prisoner at Tamms Supermax Prison. He can be contacted at: Joseph Rodney Dole II, K84446, Tamms Correctional Center,
8500 Supermax Road, Tamms, Il 62988
Prevalence of Mental Health Diversion Practices: A Survey of the States
The criminalization of mental illness is nothing less than a national disgrace.
A 2010 study by the Treatment Advocacy Center found that more than three times as many severely mentally ill persons in the U.S. are doing time in jails and prisons than receiving treatment in hospitals. Other studies indicate a near-tripling over the last 30 years of the percentage of U.S. inmates who suffer from severe mental illness, to a current level of at least 16%.
The primary mission of the Treatment Advocacy Center is to promote mental health laws and policies which, if fully implemented by state mental health systems, would minimize – if never fully eliminate – the tragedy of people with severe mental illness falling into the clutches of the criminal justice system. In this report, we look to how state criminal justice officials are responding to the colossal failure of their mental health counterparts to meet this challenge.
The Price of Freedom: Bail and Pretrial Detention of Low Income Nonfelony Defendants in New York City
December 2010, Human Rights Watch.
Drawing on previously unpublished data and scores of interviews with judges, defendants, prosecutors, and defense counsel, this report reveals the extent of the problem. Among defendants arrested in 2008 on nonfelony charges who had bail set at $1,000 or less, 87 percent were incarcerated because they were unable to post the bail amount at their arraignment. On average, they spent almost 16 days in pretrial detention for low-level offenses. Most were accused of nonviolent minor crimes such as shoplifting, turnstile jumping, smoking marijuana in public, drug possession, trespassing, and prostitution.
The Price of Prisons
By Christian Henrichson, Ruth Delaney (3-12). Staff from Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections and Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit developed a methodology to calculate the taxpayer cost of prisons, including costs outside states’ corrections budgets. Among the 40 states that participated in a survey, the cost of prisons was $39 billion in fiscal year 2010, $5.4 billion more than what their corrections budgets reflected. States’ costs outside their corrections departments ranged from less than 1 percent of total prison costs in Arizona to as much as 34 percent in Connecticut. The full report provides the taxpayer cost of incarcerating a sentenced adult offender to state prison in 40 states, presents the methodology, and concludes with recommendations about steps policy makers can take to safely rein in these costs. Fact sheets provide details about each of the 40 states that participated in Vera’s survey.
Prison Visitation Policies: A Fifty State Survey
Chesa Boudin, Trevor Stutz, Aaron Littman, Yale University - Law School
This paper presents a summary of the findings from the first fifty-state survey of prison visitation policies. Our research explores the contours of how prison administrators exercise their discretion to prescribe when and how prisoners may have contact with friends and family.
Visitation policies impact recidivism, inmates’ and their families’ quality of life, public safety, and prison security, transparency and accountability. Yet many policies are inaccessible to visitors and researchers. Given the wide-ranging effects of visitation, it is important to understand the landscape of visitation policies and then, where possible, identify best practices and uncover policies that may be counterproductive or constitutionally infirm. The paper and data set allow for state-by-state comparison across a group of common categories of visitation-related policies. In addition, we identify commonalities and variation in the categories we tracked, and also documented outlier policies revealed in the course of our research.
The paper is organized as follows. Part I describes the methodology we employed and considers its potential limitations. Part II provides our key substantive findings, presents a few highlights of the data, and discusses the basic commonalities of the policies, while noting the divergence in other key areas. Part III provides a detailed description of two sub-policy areas within visitation regulations. Here we analyze in more detail the range of approaches that states take to two contrasting forms of visitation: video visitation and overnight family (“conjugal”) visitation. Part IV outlines possible next steps for research on this topic.
Prisons vs. Higher Ed
(Infographic) An infographic focusing on the U.S. and contrasting higher ed and prison spending world wide in addition to the states of NJ and CA. It illustrates statistics about costs between higher education and corrections, while comparing the amount of spending on both.
Pruning Prisons: How Cutting Corrections Can Save Money and Protect Public Safety
States could save a combined $4.1 billion by increasing the availability of parole by shifting 10 percent of the prison population into the parole system, and improving parole support and services so that fewer people are returned to prison for technical (rule) violations. Additionally, the report finds that community-based drug treatment provides bigger crime reduction returns than prison--for every dollar spent on drug treatment in the community, the state receives $18 in benefits. Justice Policy Institute: May 2009
Public Opinion on Sentencing and Corrections Policy in America
On behalf of the Pew Center on the States, Public Opinion Strategies and the Mellman Group conducted phone interviews with 1,200 likely voters nationwide on January 10-15, 2012.
1. American voters believe too many people are in prison and the nation spends too much on imprisonment.
2. Voters overwhelmingly support a variety of policy changes that shift non-violent offenders from prison to more effective, less expensive alternatives.
3. Support for sentencing and corrections reforms (including reduced prison terms) is strong across political parties, regions, age, gender, and racial/ethnic groups.
Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America's Prison Population 2007-2011
Prepared for the Pew Charitable Trusts by the JFA Institute. February 2007. By 2011 one in every 178 U.S. residents will live in prison. America will have more than 1.7 million men and women in prison, an increase of more than 192,000 from 2006. That increase could cost taxpayers as much as $27.5 billion over the next five years beyond what they currently spend on prisons. Among the report's projections for 2011:
- Without policy changes by the states, the nation's incarceration rate will reach 562 per 100,000, or one of every 178 Americans.
- The new inmates will cost states an additional $15 billion for prison operations over the five-year period. Construction of new prison beds will cost as much as $12.5 billion.
- Unless Montana, Arizona, Alaska, Idaho and Vermont change their sentencing or release practices, they can expect to see their prison systems grow by one third or more. Similarly, barring reforms, Colorado, Washington, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah and South Dakota can expect their inmate populations to grow by about 25 percent.
- Connecticut, Delaware and New York are projected to see no change in their prison populations. Maryland will see a 1 percent increase in prison population.
- The number of women prisoners is projected to grow by 16 percent, while the male population will increase 12 percent.
- Though the Northeast boasts the lowest incarceration rates, it has the highest costs per prisoner, led by Rhode Island ($44,860 per prisoner). Louisiana spends the least per prisoner ($13,009).
- State by state projections of the number of men and women incarcerated, crime rates, costs.
Racial Disparities in the United States Criminal Justice System
Documents the impact of racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system and how they violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States ratified in 1992. The Sentencing Project, August 2013.
Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Charging and Its Sentencing Consequences
M. Marit Rehavi, University of British Columbia, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research;
Sonja B. Starr, University of Michigan Law School.
January 15, 2012 U of Michigan Law & Econ, Empirical Legal Studies Center Paper No. 12-002.
Abstract: This paper assesses the extent to which the large disparities in sentencing outcomes between black and white defendants can be explained by disparities in prosecutors' initial choice of charges, a critical stage overlooked by existing studies of sentencing disparities. To analyze charging, we pair newly constructed measures of charge severity with a newly linked dataset that traces federal cases from the arrest through sentencing.
We find that black arrestees, especially black males, face significantly more severe charges conditional on arrest offense and other observed characteristics. The disparities in the use of charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences are particularly striking. These disparities appear to be major drivers of sentencing disparity. Black males face significantly longer sentences than white males do, on average and at almost every decile of the sentence-length distribution, even after conditioning on arrest offense, criminal history, district, and age. However, the addition of controls for initial charges renders most of these disparities insignificant. Indeed, the otherwise-unexplained racial disparities at the mean and at most of the deciles can be almost entirely explained by disparities in a single prosecutorial decision: whether to file a charge carrying a mandatory minimum sentence.
Racial Inequalities in Connectedness to Imprisoned Individuals in the United States
By Hedwig Lee and Tyler McCormick of the University of Washington, Seattle; Margaret T. Hicken of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and Christopher Wildeman of Cornell University. Du Bois Review, (2015). Key Data: One in four women in the US has an imprisoned family member. More than six million black women in the US have an incarcerated relative. 44 percent of black women have an incarcerated family member compared to 12 percent of white women.
Realigning Justice Resources: A Review of Population and Spending Shifts In Prison and Community Corrections
A report from Vera's Center on Sentencing and Corrections, in partnership
with the Pew Center on the States Public Safety Performance Project,
examines whether, in light of recent state-level policy changes and ongoing
budget deficits, the expected shifts in population and spending from prisons
to community corrections between 2006 and 2010 have been realized. The
findings are based on survey responses from 36 state prison agencies and 35
community corrections agencies; follow-up interviews with 24 states; a
review of recent sentencing and corrections legislation; and an analysis of
population counts from the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Reallocating Justice Resources: A Review of State 2011 Sentencing Trends
Vera Institute of Justice, Center on Sentencing and Corrections, March 2012, by
Lauren-Brooke Eisen and Juliene James.
Most states are facing budget crises as they plan FY 2013 and beyond. With fewer dollars available, state criminal justice agencies are challenged to increase public safety while coping with smaller budgets. This report distills lessons from 14 states that passed research-driven sentencing and corrections reform in 2011 and is based on interviews with stakeholders and experts, and the experience of technical assistance staff at the Vera Institute of Justice. It is intended to serve as a guide to policy makers and others interested in pursuing evidence-based justice reform in their jurisdiction. (States: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont).
Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System
A comprehensive manual for practitioners and policymakers. The publication provides insight into how racial disparities develop in the criminal justice system, and workable solutions to address and reduce disparities. The manual provides strategies for addressing disparities at each stage of the system, as well as 17 "best practices" illustrating practitioner approaches for enhancing fairness. The Sentencing Project. September 2008.
Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration: A Policy Framework and Proposal
By Inimai Chettiar, Lauren-Brooke Eisen, and Nicole Fortier with Timothy Ross
Foreword by Peter Orszag. Brennan Center for Justice. November 2013. This proposal lays out a policy framework to reform federal criminal justice funding practices. The new approach would reorient criminal justice incentives toward effectively fighting crime
while also reducing mass incarceration. It then proposes concrete reforms to the largest
nationwide criminal justice grant program.
Return to Sender: Postcard-only Mail Policies in Jail
By Leah Sakala. Prison Policy Initiative. Feb. 2013.
The report demonstrates, often with examples from successful lawsuits, why postcards are inadequate substitutes for letters. Not only does communication via postcard cost 34 times as much as via letter, but banning envelopes forces people to choose between exposing personal information to anyone who sees the postcard or not communicating at all.The postcard-only trend
began in 2007, when controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio instituted a ban on any incoming nonlegal mail except for postcards.Since then, sheriffs from jails in at least 13 states around the country—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington—have followed suit by implementing their own postcard-only restrictions on incoming and outgoing mail, radically restricting incarcerated people’s ability to communicate with the
outside world. "The security practices of all state and federal prisons show that correctional facilities can effectively screen mail without resorting to postcard-only policies."
A Review of Federal Prison Industries' Electronic-Waste Recycling Program
(October 2010) Office of Inspector General, Department of Justice. A report from the Office of the Inspector General revealed prisoners and employees at 10 federal prisons were exposed to toxic metals and other hazardous materials while processing electronic waste for recycling.
A Rising Share: Hispanics and Federal Crime
By Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center, and Michael T. Light, Pennsylvania State University. 2009. Sharp growth in illegal immigration and increased enforcement of immigration laws have altered the ethnic composition of prisoners sentenced in federal courts. In 2007, Latinos accounted for 40% of all sentenced federal prisoners-more than triple their share (13%) of the total U.S. adult population. Among sentenced immigrants, most were convicted of unlawfully entering or remaining in the U.S. Fully 75% of Latino prisoners sentenced for immigration crimes in 2007 were convicted of entering the U.S. unlawfully or residing in the country without authorization.
Sentencing and Prison Practices in Germany and the Netherlands: Implications for the United States
Germany and the Netherlands have significantly lower incarceration rates than the United States and make much greater use of non-custodial penalties, particularly for nonviolent crimes. In addition, conditions and practices within correctional facilities in these countries—grounded in the principle of "normalization" whereby life in prison is to resemble as much as possible life in the community—also differ markedly from the U.S. In February 2013—as part of the European-American Prison Project funded by the California-based Prison Law Office and managed by Vera—delegations of corrections and justice system leaders from Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania together visited Germany and the Netherlands to tour prison facilities, speak with corrections officials and researchers, and interact with inmates. Although variations in the definitions of crimes, specific punishments, and recidivism limit the availability of comparable justice statistics, this report describes the considerably different approaches to sentencing and corrections these leaders observed in Europe and the impact this exposure has had (and continues to have) on the policy debate and practices in their home states. It also explores some of the project's practical implications for reform efforts throughout the United States to reduce incarceration and improve conditions of confinement while maintaining public safety. (October 2013)
Solving California's Corrections Crisis: Time is Running Out
The long-awaited California Little Hoover Commission report on sentencing reform. "In a blistering 84-page report, the nonpartisan Little Hoover Commission linked the problems plaguing the correctional system to political cowardice among governors and lawmakers fearful of being labeled soft on crime." (LA Times)
Spreading the Pain: The Social Cost of Incarcerating Parents
By Thomas E. Lengyel, MSW, Ph.D., Director of Research & Evaluation Services, Alliance for Children and Families. September 2006. An interesting paper including the social cost and dollar figure for incarcerating a parent convicted of a drug offense in NY State amounting to $776,698.
The State of Sentencing 2011
By Nicole Porter, The Sentencing Project (January 2012).
A new report by The Sentencing Project documents that 29 states throughout the country enacted at least 55 reforms to sentencing and prison policy in 2011. The report highlights policy initiatives that are contributing to reduced prison and jail populations. The analysis follows recent documentation by the Department of Justice that in 2010 the national prison population declined for the first time since 1972. The report provides an overview of recent policy reforms in the areas of sentencing, probation and parole, collateral consequences, and juvenile justice. The full report, which includes a comprehensive chart on criminal justice reform legislation, details on sentencing, probation and parole, drug policy, prison census count, collateral consequences of conviction, juvenile justice and policy recommendations.
The State of Sentencing 2014
By Nicole Porter. The Sentencing Project. Feb. 2015. Highlights policy changes in 30 states and the District of Columbia in both the adult and juvenile justice systems, including: Scaling back sentences for low-level drug offenses. Reducing barriers to reentry, including employment restrictions and bans on public assistance. Eliminating juvenile life without parole.
Testimony by Frank Smith, November 11, 2005, St.Louis, MO
Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons. Written testimony and eight pages of synopses of
44 affidavits. These were from inmates who were allegedly assaulted in two
separate "guards' riots" at CCA's CADC facility in Florence, Arizona,
in 1998 and 2000. Most of the affidavits were written contemporaneous with
the riot, when the inmates were on lockdown in different pods, unable to communicate
with each other. You'll find their accounts are remarkably consistent.The inmates'
statements really captured how out of control and unprofessional the guards were
in each instance. It compares prison safety issues in public vs. for-profit prisons.
Three Strikes: The Wrong Way to Justice (Massachusetts)
The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. By Tatum Pritchard. (June 2012) The report describes the likely long-term impact of the state adopting the proposed changes to the Habitual Offender Law contained in Senate Bill 2080 and House Bill 3818.
Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Executive Director and Founder of the Houston Institute, stated: "This report makes clear that, if enacted, the proposed changes will cost state taxpayers millions of dollars by needlessly locking up too many low-level offenders for too long a time, and depriving the state of funds it desperately needs for education, infrastructure, and jobs. It will further burden our severely overcrowded prisons, and risk the safety of employees and prisoners. Our communities of color will suffer the most from these changes. Other states recognize that "tough on crime" is not working, and it is time that Massachusetts adopts a more balanced approach to public safety."
The report highlights the most problematic sections of the bills, estimates likely financial costs to taxpayers, and their almost certain disparate racial impact. It concludes with a recommendation for a "better" approach to improving community safety by investing in proven strategies to reduce violence and crime, and by undertaking a data-driven Justice Reinvestment project aimed at safely reducing the state's prison population over time.
Time Served:The High Cost, Low Return of Longer Prison Terms
(June 2012) Pew Center on the States
The length of time served in prison has increased markedly over the last two decades, according to a new study by Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project. Prisoners released in 2009 served an average of nine additional months in custody, or 36 percent longer, than prisoners released in 1990. Those extended prison sentences came at a price: prisoners released from incarceration in 2009 cost states $23,300 per offender--or a total of over $10 billion nationwide. More than half of that amount was for non-violent offenders.
The report,also found that time served for drug offenses and violent offenses grew at nearly the same pace from 1990 to 2009. Drug offenders served 36 percent longer in 2009 than those released in 1990, while violent offenders served 37 percent longer. Time served for inmates convicted of property crimes increased by 24 percent. Almost all states increased length of stay over the last two decades, though that varied widely from state to state. In Florida, for example, where time served rose most rapidly, prison terms grew by 166 percent and cost an extra $1.4 billion in 2009.
Tinkering with Life: A Look at the Inappropriateness of Life Without Parole as an Alternative to the Death Penalty
By Ashley Nellis, March 2013. University of Miami Law Review. Dr. Nellis explores the use of life without parole, now standing at more than 41,000 sentences nationwide and representing a 300% increase over the past two decades. She argues that the abolition of the death penalty in several states in recent years allows deliberations about punishment to expand and to consider the appropriateness of other sanctions. The article describes commonalities between death sentences and parole-ineligible life sentences, including:
The terminal nature of both sentences that necessitates death in prison.
The extreme racial disparities among those who receive either of these sentences.
The article also discusses critical problems posed by life without parole sentences, including:
The mandatory nature with which they can be imposed;
The lack of heightened legal review required for life without parole cases in comparison to death sentences.
Finally, Dr. Nellis encourages careful consideration in promoting life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty, arguing that neither of these sentences allows for the possibility of reform or redemption.
Toxic Sweatshops: How UNICOR Prison Recycling Harms Workers, Communities, the Environment, and the Recycling Industry
Imagine wondering if your nagging cough, the cuts that won't heal and the strange rashes on your body have something to do with the work you are forced to do in a federal prison. Everyday U.S. prison inmates smash computer monitors without adequate protection from the glass or a respirator to keep the toxic dust from entering their lungs. A growing number of prison inmates and guards are expressing fears for their health and safety in electronics recycling factories run by UNICOR, also known as the "Federal Prison Industries." UNICOR is a controversial business venture: a government corporation operated under the Department of Justice that uses captive prison labor in a range of industries, including the manufacturing of furniture and textiles and the dismantling e-waste.
Two-Tiered Justice: Race, Class, and Crime Policy
An essay by Marc Mauer in The Integration Debate, edited by Chester Hartman and Gregory Squires. Examines the intersection of policy changes in criminal justice with the dynamics of a society that is still segregated in large part has produced a crisis of mass incarceration with profound effects for communities of color. In the drug war and other areas, the "two-tiered" approach to public safety has emphasized treatment and public health strategies in communities with resources, while stressing punitive criminal justice initiatives in low-income neighborhoods. These policies have set in motion a vicious cycle whereby the failure to invest in communities leads to higher rates of incarceration, which in turn contribute to declining economic prospects.
Unlocking Potential: Results of a National Survey of Postsecondary Education in State Prisons
Author: Laura E. Gorgol and Brian A. Sponsler, Ed.D. Offers first-of-its-kind data and recommendations aiming to increase the policy attention paid to postsecondary opportunity for incarcerated persons. The study examines data from 43 states—based on results from a national survey sent to state correctional education administrators—about postsecondary education programs in their prison systems. Areas studied included student enrollments and completions, instructional methods, eligibility requirements, and funding sources.
World Prison Population List (sixth edition)
By Roy Walmsley, International Centre for Prison
Studies, Kings College, London. The World Prison
Population List gives details of the number of
prisoners held in 211 independent countries and
dependent territories. It shows the differences in the
level of imprisonment across the world and makes
possible an estimate of the world prison population
total. The information is the latest available at the
end of February 2005.
Zogby Poll on Attitudes of U.S. Voters Reveals Strong Support for Prisoner Rehabilitation and Reentry Services
In February 2006, Zogby International was commissioned to conduct a national public opinion poll about American attitudes toward rehabilitation and reentry of prisoners into their home communities. Except where noted, the questions pertained to prisoners convicted of nonviolent crimes, such as drug or property offenses. The results of the poll showed that striking majorities favor rehabilitation as a major goal of incarceration, and appears to reflect a recognition that current correctional systems do not help the problem of crime; that prisoners face enormous barriers to successful reintegration to the community; and that rehabilitative services should be provided as a means of reducing crime.
Addicted to Courts: How a Growing Dependence on Drug Courts Impacts People and Communities
Justice Policy Institute. March 2011. The report finds that providing people with alternatives like community-based treatment are more cost-effective and provide greater public safety benefits than treatment that comes with the collateral consequences associated with involvement in the criminal justice system.
Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population
Source: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. From press release: Of the 2.3 million inmates crowding our nations prisons and jails, 1.5 million meet the DSM IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction, and another 458,000, while not meeting the strict DSM IV criteria, had histories of substance abuse; were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their crime; committed their offense to get money to buy drugs; were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation; or shared some combination of these characteristics, according to Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population. Combined these two groups constitute 85 percent of the U.S. prison population.
The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs
(The Sentencing Project April 2009) For the first time in 25 years, since the inception of the "war on drugs," the number of African Americans incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses has declined substantially, according to a Sentencing Project study. It finds a 21.6% drop in the number of blacks incarcerated for a drug offense, a decline of 31,000 people during the period 1999-2005. The study also documents a corresponding rise in the number of whites in state prison for a drug offense, an increase of 42.6% during this time frame, or more than 21,000 people. The number of Latinos incarcerated for state drug offenses was virtually unchanged.The study notes that the black declines in incarceration represent "the end result of 50 state law enforcement and sentencing systems" which need to be examined individually. But overall, the decline in blacks incarcerated for a drug offense follows upon declining arrest and conviction rates for blacks as well. In reviewing the study's findings, African Americans are still imprisoned at more than six times the rate of whites for all offenses. Moreover, high incarceration rates for low-level drug offenses remain a function of the largely punitive approach to drug abuse that has proven expensive and ineffective.
Claiborne Amicus Brief
Amicus brief that The Sentencing Project and the ACLU
submitted on December 21, 2006 to the U.S. Supreme Court
in the case of Claiborne v. U.S. The Claiborne case
results from the Supreme Court's 2005 Booker decision that
declared the federal sentencing guidelines
unconstitutional and required that the guidelines be
advisory. The issue in Claiborne and the companion Rita
case concerns the exercise of judicial discretion in
imposing a "reasonable" sentence.
The Claiborne case involves a sentence for crack
cocaine. The amicus brief focuses on the policy issues
regarding mandatory sentencing, and argues that the crack
cocaine laws have inappropriately targeted low-level
offenses and have created unwarranted racial disparities.
The case is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on
February 20, 2007.
The Criminal Justice Costs of Marijuana Prohibition in Rhode Island
Open Doors Rhode Island, April 2010. The report finds that marijuana prohibition has widespread and significant fiscal and human costs, results in unfair and racially disproportionate punishment, and has no demonstrated public safety benefits. There were 1,771 arrests for marijuana possession in 2009, and in 2008 there were 584 incidents of incarceration for marijuana possession. The report recommends decriminalization of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and estimates that this would save $12.7 million in criminal justice costs per year.
Additionally, the report concludes that there is no proof of any crime control benefits of these incarcerations, finding that, "in the year after release from a prison sentence for marijuana, only 7% of individuals were reconvicted for a violent offense, only 2.5% for a violent felony." Despite the fact that white people smoke marijuana at higher rates, black people are punished disproportionately: black people are arrested 1.6 times more frequently for marijuana, and those arrested are incarcerated eight times more frequently than whites. The analysis in the report is based on arrest, court, and Department of Corrections data and the methodology was reviewed by the Department of Corrections. The report also summarizes medical research that demonstrates that marijuana is significantly less of a public health risk than alcohol.
The report is also available at the Open Doors RI web site.
Decades of Disparity: Drug Arrests and Race in the United States
March 2, 2009. Human Rights Watch. This 20-page report says that adult African Americans were arrested on drug charges at rates that were 2.8 to 5.5 times as high as those of white adults in every year from 1980 through 2007, the last year for which complete data were available. About one in three of the more than 25.4 million adult drug arrestees during that period was African American.
Disparity by Design
A new national report shows that drug-free zone laws fall to protect
youth from drug sales and worsen racial disparity in prisons. Justice Policy Institute.
March 2006. Judy Greene, Kevin Pranis, Jason Ziedenberg, authors. Commissioned
by the Drug Policy Alliance
Disparity by Geography: The War on Drugs in America's Cities
By Ryan King of The Sentencing Project. The first city-level analysis of drug arrests, examining data from 43 of the nation's largest cities between 1980 and 2003. The study found that, since 1980, the rate of drug arrests in American cities for African Americans increased by 225 percent, compared to 70 percent among whites. Black arrest rates grew by more than 500 percent in 11 cities during this period; and, in nearly half of the cities, the odds of arrest for a drug offense among African Americans relative to whites more than doubled. May 2008.
Drug Courts: A Review of the Evidence
The report assesses the impact of the drug court movement. The Sentencing Project, April 2009. Originally conceived in 1989 as an alternative to incarceration for persons convicted of low-level drug offenses, there are now more than 1,600 drug courts nationally, covering all 50 states. The Sentencing Project surveyed a wide-range of research to outline general findings on the operation and efficacy of drug courts, and to highlight benefits and potential concerns. Overall, they found:
- Drug courts have generally been demonstrated to have positive benefits in reducing recidivism.
- Evaluations of the cost-effectiveness of drug courts have generally found benefits through reduced costs of crime or incarceration.
- Concern remains regarding potential "net-widening" effects of drug courts by drawing in defendants who might not otherwise have been subject to arrest and prosecution.
Drug Law Reform 2008 - Dramatic Costs Savings For New York State
(Legal Action Center-December 2008) Finds that New York would save over a quarter billion dollars a year by reforming the Rockefeller-Era Drug Laws. When drug law reform is fully operational, it is estimated that New York would save $267,660,000 a year. Even in the first year, estimates show that New York would realize tens of millions of dollars in savings. The study calculated the cost savings that would accrue to New York State by diverting addicted individuals charged with second, non-violent, non-sex felony offenses from prison to community-based treatment, as they comprise the vast majority of individuals who are mandated into prison under current law. LAC believes such individuals should be diverted into mandated treatment if the laws are reformed. The study excludes people charged with Class A felonies. The findings take into account savings generated by the elimination of costs associated with incarceration; savings related to reduced foster care, health care and welfare costs; and increased tax contributions.
Drug Law Resentencing: Saving Tax Dollars with Minimal Community Risk
Legal Aid Society Report Finds that 2004 and 2005 Rockefeller Drug Law Reforms Huge Success: Tens of Millions of Dollars Saved with Low Levels of Recidivism by Individuals Released from Prison - New York Prosecutors Lose Credibility as Report Counters Past and Current Misleading Claims.
A report released on January 14, 2010 by the Legal Aid Society of New York shows that the changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws in '04 and '05 have been a huge success with tens of millions of dollars being saved and remarkably low levels of recidivism of people who have been re-sentenced and released from prison. On average, people who were re-sentenced and released early from prison as a result of the 2004 and 2005 drug law reforms have an overall recidivism rate of 8.5 percent, while the overall rate of recidivism rate for people released in the same period is nearly 40 percent.
The Economic Cost of Methamphetamine Use in the United States, 2005
By Nancy Nicosia, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Beau Kilmer, Russell Lundberg, James Chiesa. This first national estimate suggests that the economic cost of methamphetamine (meth) use in the United States reached $23.4 billion in 2005. Given the uncertainty in estimating the costs of meth use, this book provides a lower-bound estimate of $16.2 billion and an upper-bound estimate of $48.3 billion. The analysis considers a wide range of consequences due to meth use, including the burden of addiction, premature death, drug treatment, and aspects of lost productivity, crime and criminal justice, health care, production and environmental hazards, and child endangerment. Other potential harms of meth, however, could not be included due to a lack of scientific evidence or to data issues. Although meth causes some unique harms, many of the primary cost drivers are similar to those identified in economic assessments of other illicit drugs. Among the most costly elements are the intangible burden of addiction and premature death, which account for nearly two-thirds of the economic costs. The intangible burden of addiction measures the lower quality of life experienced by those addicted to the drug. Crime and criminal-justice costs also account for a significant share of economic costs, as do lost productivity, removing a child from the parents' home, and drug treatment. One unusual cost captured in the analysis is that associated with the production of meth, which requires toxic chemicals that can result in fire, explosions, and other negative events.
End of An Era? The Impact of Drug Law Reform in New York City
By Jim Parsons. Vera Institute of Justice. January 2015. 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 Justice and the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University to examine the implementation of drug law reform and its impact on recidivism, racial disparities, and cost in New York City. The National Institute of Justice-funded study found that drug law reform, as it functioned in the city soon after the laws were passed, led to a 35 percent rise in the rate of diversion of eligible defendants to treatment. Although the use of diversion varied significantly among the city’s five boroughs, it was associated with reduced recidivism rates, and cut racial disparities in half.
Everyone Pays: A Social Cost Analysis of Incarcerating Parents for Drug Offenses in Hawai’i
By Thomas E. Lengyel, Associate Director of Research & Evaluation, American Humane Association, Denver, CO; and Marilyn Brown, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Hawai’i-Hilo, Hilo, Hawai’i. June 2009. Executive Summary and Complete Paper. Contact info for tom Lengyel: toml@AmericanHumane.org. From the Summary: "This apparent windfall from the incapacitation of drug offenders must be balanced against the costs caused by their removal from society and confinement to prison. The $85,000 per prisoner savings from incapacitation is exceeded simply by Hawai’i’s costs for providing a prison bed, which amount to $123,000 per prisoner over the 39 month average length of stay. That is the tip of the iceberg for the social costs of incarceration, which include significant losses to the prisoner and the prisoner’s family in terms of reduced quality of life, lost earnings while in prison, lost future earnings of the release, lost taxes to the state on lost earnings, up-front criminal justice system costs, the cost of parole, foster care for the children of some prisoners, and a host of other costs, some of which are yet to be estimated. Pursuing this cold reality to its logical conclusion shows that the per-prisoner costs of incarceration for the average length of stay exceed the social benefits by $600,000. The net cost to the state for incarcerating the entire cohort comes to $15.6 million, and adding costs to the prisoner and the prisoner’s extended family brings the total cost charged against the welfare of the Hawai’i community to $102 million." (cohort group is 197 prisoners.)
The Failure of the War on Drugs: Charting a New Course for the Commonwealth
The Massachusetts Bar Association Drug Policy Task Force. June 2009. The report urges the Legislature to reform the state's approach to drug prevention, treatment and punishment. "Changing policies from emphasis on incarceration to more encouragement for treatment would allow us to save money, reduce crime, and rebuild families and communities."
Recommendations for reform. The Task Force's recommendations to reform mandatory minimum sentences are the same ones that FAMM supports: allowing drug offenders to apply for parole, work release and earned "good time" deductions, reducing "school zones" to 100 feet, eliminating mandatory sentences for school zone offenders (who will still be punished for the underlying offense) and allowing school zone sentences to be served concurrently with another sentence.
Falling Through the Cracks: Loss of State-Based Financial Aid Eligibility for Students Affected by the Federal Higher Education Act Drug Provision
Source: Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform (CHEAR) "The drug provision of the Higher Education Act expressly denies federal aid to persons convicted of state or federal drug offenses for specified periods of time.4 However, the law offers no prescribed method by which states should determine eligibility for state financial aid. This has led to inconsistency and confusion among state financial aid offices, leaving many qualified applicants without the resources they need to go to college, and many financial aid officers believing, incorrectly, that they must deny aid to students who have been convicted of drug offenses simply because the federal government has done so. This report details the findings of research conducted on how the 50 states and the District of Columbia determine eligibility for state-based financial aid for persons who have reported having drug convictions on Question 31 of the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). The report also makes recommendations for how states can clarify the situation so that students losing federal aid because of drug convictions can still receive state aid."
The Geography of Punishment: How Huge Sentencing Enhancement Zones Harm Communities, Fail to Protect Children
By Aleks Kajstura, Peter Wagner and William Goldberg, Prison Policy Initiative.July 2008.
Harmful Drug Law Hits Home: How Many College Students Have Lost Their Financial Aid Due to Drug Convictions?
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) obtained college applicants - nearly 200,000 - who have been denied financial aid due to drug convictions, and released this state-by-state report.
Intersecting voices: Impacts of Illinois' Drug Policies
By Kathleen Kane-Willis. The Illinois Consortium on
Drug Policy. August 2006. Two decades of steadily
toughening laws, Illinois now puts more people in
prison for drug crimes than any state except
California. The report finds that more people are being
incarcerated for possessing narcotics than for selling
them and that the state's prisons hold about five black
inmates convicted of drug offenses for every white
inmate--one of the largest racial disparities in the
The Next Big Thing? Methamphetamine in the United States
The Sentencing Project has released a major new
study disproving the popular belief that there exists a
growing methamphetamine "epidemic" within the United
States. To the contrary, the report reveals that
methamphetamine is actually one of the rarest of
illegal drugs used, with its use declining among youth,
stabilizing among adults and demonstrating no increase
in first-time users. The Next Big Thing? documents the
sensationalist coverage of "meth" by most media sources
that have distorted national trends of the drug's
actual prevalence, growth, dangers and treatment.
Important findings of the report include:
- Methamphetamine is among the least commonly used drugs.
- Methamphetamine remains a rare occurrence throughout most of the country and is not indicative of a nationwide problem.
- Methamphetamine use is declining among our nation's youth.
- Drug treatment programs are effective in combating methamphetamine addictions.
Numbers Game: The Vicious Cycle of Incarceration in Mississippi’s Criminal Justice System
By Judith Greene and Patricia Allard of Justice Strategies and the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. Examines Mississippi’s sentencing policies, the conduct of drug task forces, and the use of confidential informants. The report documents how many black defendants are pressured to work as informants in drug cases and provides first hand accounts of the damage done to individuals, families, and communities. Greene and Allard discuss how task force funding is contingent on what they coin the "numbers game," whereby confidential informants are used to increase the number of overall arrests and convictions. They assert that the incentives embedded in this practice are riddled with abuse and corruption that encourage racial disparities in drug law enforcement.
An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How US Federal Prosecutors Force Drug Defendants to Plead Guilty
Human Rights Watch. The 126-page report details how prosecutors throughout the United States extract guilty pleas from federal drug defendants by charging or threatening to charge them with offenses carrying harsh mandatory sentences and by seeking additional mandatory increases to those sentences. Prosecutors offer defendants a much lower sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. Since drug defendants rarely prevail at trial, it is not surprising that 97 percent of them decide to plead guilty.
Poor Prescription: The Costs of Imprisoning Drug Offenders in the United States
(2000). This report, issued by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, has many useful graphs and statistical comparisons focused on individual states and the inequities of incarceration based on race.
Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations: A Research Based Guide
July 25, 2006, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Report encourages methadone and other addiction medications, not just reliance on 12-step programs. Asserts that relapse is to be expected, even after long periods of incarceration, if effective treatment is not provided during and after time spent in prison. The report includes information on brain changes that help explain why addiction is a form of chronic disease. The report states that "continuing or re-emerging drug use during treatment requires a clinical response either increasing the 'dosage' or level of treatment, or changing the treatment intervention."
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.
Report to Congress: Mandatory Minimum Penalties in the Federal Criminal Justice System
October 2011. U.S. Sentencing Commission.
From the Sentencing Project Race & Justice Newsletter "A new 645-page report by the United States Sentencing Commission examines the impact of mandatory minimum penalties on federal sentencing, the first such assessment since the Commission's examination of this issue in 1991. The Commission concludes that “certain mandatory minimums apply too broadly, are excessively severe, and are applied inconsistently."
The Commission's analysis also includes an assessment of the racial dynamics of mandatory sentencing. African-American offenders were subject to mandatory minimum penalties at a higher rate (65.1%) than were white (53.5%) and Hispanic (44.3%) offenders. Furthermore, African-American offenders received relief from mandatory minimums at a lower rate (34.9%) than did white (46.5%) and Hispanic (55.7%) offenders."
Sentencing with Discretion: Crack Cocaine Sentencing After Booker
The report coincides with the one-year anniversary of the
historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v.
Booker, in which the Court struck down the mandatory
application of the federal sentencing guidelines as
unconstitutional, but kept the guidelines intact by
requiring that they be consulted in an advisory capacity.
Examining published court decisions, the new report
assesses how judges have utilized their expanded range of
discretion in one of the most contentious areas of federal
sentencing, crack cocaine offenses. The key findings of
the report are the following:
- Continuing Harsh Sentences -- Federal judges continue
to impose stiff prison sentences in crack cocaine cases
despite deviations from the federal guidelines. Of the
published decisions analyzed, defendants in crack cocaine
cases were sentenced to an average prison term of 11
- Judges Using Discretion in Individual Cases -- Judges
are employing their discretion to assess individual case
characteristics and in selected cases, to impose sentences
that better meet the goals of sentencing. These factors
include defendant circumstances, goals of sentencing, and
policy recommendations of the U.S. Sentencing
- The report recommends that: 1) There is no need for a
Booker "fix" since judges appear to be imposing harsh
penalties in serious cases, but distinguishing these from
those cases in which the defendant is less culpable; and,
2) Congress should reconsider the crack/powder cocaine
sentencing disparity in order to expand the range of cases
in which judges can consider individual case
Should We Be Sentencing for Dollars: Rethinking the Proposed Drug Tax
By Patricia Warth and Alan Rosenthal, Center for Community Alternatives.
The 2008-2009 New York Governor's budget proposes a tax on illegal drug
activity that will be imposed on people convicted of drug-related crimes.
The Governor estimates that this "Drug Tax" will add $13-$17 million per
year to New York's general fund. While the Governor's desire to close New
York's budget deficit is understandable, the proposed Drug Tax will not help
to achieve this goal. Instead, it will adversely affect reintegration and
public safety, producing financial and human costs that will dwarf any
revenues the tax generates.
A report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (May 2009) documents the federal, state and local governments spend almost half a trillion dollars every year - almost 11 percent of their total budgets - as a result of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse and addiction.
That's right. Out of every dollar federal and state governments spent on substance misuse in 2005 (the latest data available), 95 cents paid for the enormous burden of this problem on health care, criminal justice, child welfare, education, and other programs. And only 2 cents were invested in prevention and treatment programs that could reduce many of these costs - and
save lives. Researchers studied all federal, state and local budgets for 2005 using careful, conservative methods to determine how much of each major budget category was directly linked to substance misuse. For example, they determined how much of each state's Medicaid and other health care expenses were due to one of over 70 medical diagnoses that are caused or made worse by alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse and addiction. They did the same for criminal justice, welfare and other key government budgets. They also identified all government spending on prevention, treatment and research, regulation of alcohol and tobacco products and drug interdiction. When the numbers are added up, the total is really shocking: 467.7 billion dollars. Spending less than 2% of the federal and state costs for prevention and treatment, and more than 95% shoveling up the mess, is upside down public policy that wastes billions in taxpayer dollars at a time when resources are scarce, and results in untold human suffering.
Study Examines Support for Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Cocaine
First-time cocaine offenders caught with five grams of
the drug should go to drug treatment or get probation,
not prison, three of four white Americans say. The
Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP)
reported that the survey conducted by the National
Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago
also found that those who called for imprisoning
cocaine users were more likely to make moral judgments
about users, to blame users for their addictions, to
deny that racism is a problem in the U.S., and to
believe that blacks are more likely than whites to use
cocaine. The survey of 783 white Americans found that
51 percent favored treatment for cocaine offenders,
while 26 percent favored probation. "Scholars have
suggested that racism and moralism have influenced
American attitudes on addressing drug problems, and we
believe that this is the first study to empirically
test whether these factors are related," said study co-
author Kenneth Rasinski.Added Rosalyn Lee, the other
co-author of the study: "Our study shows that racial
attitudes were related to the tendency to blame and
make moral judgments about addicts for addiction; and
those with a tendency to blame and moralize were more
likely to support prison sentences."
Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the United States
Human Rights Watch documents with detailed new statistics persistent racial disparities among people with drug convictions sent to prison in 34 states. All of these states send black drug offenders to prison at much higher rates than whites. Across the 34 states, a black man is 11.8 times more likely than a white man to be sent to prison on drug charges, and a black woman is 4.8 times more likely than a white woman. In 16 states, African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at rates between 10 and 42 times greater than the rate for whites. The 10 states with the greatest racial disparities in prison admissions for drug offenders are: Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Colorado, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. (May 2008)
Treatment Behind Bars: Substance Abuse Treatment in New York State Prisons
By the Correctional Association of New York. A three year study by the Prison Visiting Project. April 2011. The report includes major findings regarding the system's programs such as:
* an overly broad and unclear screening process;
* a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment programs;
* substantial variability among treatment programs;
* treatment staff with varying degrees of experience, training, skills and commitment;
* limited clinical supervision and program oversight; and
* insufficient discharge planning and reentry services.
As the largest provider of substance abuse treatment in the State, New York's prison system has the ability to benefit tens of thousands of individuals in need of substance abuse treatment by providing the highest, most appropriate quality of care. The report concludes that the State does not need to spend more money to address many of the report’s identified problems. Policymakers can significantly improve prison treatment programs by reallocating resources, developing a more effective assessment process, drawing on proven existing instruments and programs and increasing collaborations with outside agencies.
A 25-Year Quagmire: The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society
Sentencing Project has released a report that examines the burden of the "war on drugs" on the criminal justice system and American communities. The report assesses the strategy of combating drug abuse primarily with enhanced punishments at the expense of investments in treatment and prevention. It documents how the drug war has produced a record expansion of prison and jail systems and highlights additional indicators of the war's impact on the criminal justice system and communities, including:
* Drug arrests have more than tripled since 1980 to a record 1.8 million by 2005;
* Four of five (81.7%) drug arrests were for possession offenses, and 42.6% were for marijuana charges in 2005;
* Nearly six in 10 persons in state prison for a drug offense have no history of violence or high-level drug selling;
* Only 14% of persons in 2004 who report using drugs in the month before their arrest had participated in a treatment program, a decline of more than half from participation rates in 1991;
* A shortage of treatment options in many low-income neighborhoods contributes to drug abuse being treated primarily as a criminal justice problem, rather than a social problem.
The Vortex: The Concentrated Racial Impact of Drug Imprisonment and the Characteristics of Punitive Counties
Justice Policy Institute (JPI) released a report (December 4, 2007) which finds that 97 percent of the nation's large-population counties imprisoned African Americans at a higher rate than whites. The report documents racial disparities in the use of prison for drug offenses in 193 of the 198 counties that reported to government entities. "The Vortex: The Concentrated Racial Impact of Drug Imprisonment and the Characteristics of Punitive Counties" is the first study to examine drug imprisonment rates at the county level. It is also the first study to document the disproportionate impact of drug imprisonment on African American communities at the county level.
Major findings of The Vortex include:
While tens of millions of people use illicit drugs, prison and policing responses to drug behavior have a concentrated impact on a subset of the population. In 2002, there were 19.5 million illicit drug users, 1.5 million drug arrests, and 175,000 people admitted to prison for a drug offense. While African Americans and whites use and sell drugs at similar rates, African Americans are ten times more likely than whites to be imprisoned for drug offenses.
Of the 175,000 admitted to prison nationwide in 2002, over half were African American, despite the fact that African Americans make up less than 13 percent of the U.S. population.
There is no relationship between the rates at which people are sent to prison for drug offenses and the rates at which people use drugs in counties.
Higher county drug prison admission rates were associated with how much was spent on policing and the judicial system, higher poverty and unemployment rates, and the proportion of the county's population that is African American. The full report and a very good interactive map of states and counties is at:
The War on Marijuana in Black and White
Report by the ACLU (June 2013). African Americans are four times more likely to be charged with possession of marijuana than whites. State by state statistics and analysis of arrests and costs.
OVER-POLICING: Between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million pot arrests in the U.S. That’s one bust every 37 seconds and hundreds of thousands ensnared in the criminal justice system.
WASTED TIME AND MONEY: Enforcing marijuana laws costs us about $3.6 billion a year, yet the War on Marijuana has failed to diminish the use or availability of marijuana.
STAGGERING RACIAL BIAS: Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration
Nov. 2011. By David Shapiro. ACLU National Prison Project and Center for Justice. Part One of this Report traces the rise of the for-profit prison industry over the past 30 years, demonstrating that private prisons reaped lucrative spoils as incarceration rates reached historic levels. Part Two focuses on the supposed benefits associated with private prisons, showing that the view that private prison companies provide demonstrable economic benefits and humane facilities is debatable at best. Part Three discusses the tactics private prison companies have used to obtain control of more and more human beings and taxpayer dollars.
Building a Prison Economy in Rural America
By Tracy Huling. From Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind, Editors. The New Press. 2002.
The Business of Punishing: Imediments to Accountability in the Private Corrections Industry
By Stephen Raher. Historical overview of prison privatization, its growth and legal issues concerning privatization including a focus on immigrant detention. Richmond Journal of Law and Public Interest. Winter 2010. Available online (as part of the full issue)
Cost of Prisons in the United States
Click on any state to see the financial cost of prisons to taxpayers as well as prison population in each state. There is data on 40 states (not MA of course).
The Cost of Private Prisons. Report from Information In the Public Interest
The private prison industry claims that governments can save money by privatizing prisons, but what does the evidence actually indicate? This backgrounder summarizes recent research and state reports related to private prison costs, and then discusses some common, yet dangerously flawed and unsound tactics employed to make private prisons appear cost effective.
The Failed Promise of Prison Privatization
By Richard Culp, Ph.D., Prison Legal News, October 2011. Although hyperbole continues to propel prison privatization policy along, research findings are incontrovertible: even in the best private prisons, quality of prisoner care is no better than in public prisons and the cost advantage of privatization, which initially accounted for minimal savings, is steadily eroding as the private prison industry matures.
The big promises of prison privatization - less cost, higher quality - have simply not materialized. Despite these disappointing results, prison privatization advocacy maintains traction in diverse jurisdictions as policymakers from Ohio to Florida and from Maine to California seek expedient solutions to budget shortfalls triggered by a lingering great recession.
Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies
By the Justice Policy Institute (June 2011). Examines the political strategies of private prison companies and how they are able to wield influence over legislators and criminal justice policy, ultimately resulting in harsher criminal justice policies and the incarceration of more people. The report notes a "triangle of influence" built on campaign contributions, lobbying and relationships with current and former elected and appointed officials. Through this strategy, private prison companies have gained access to local, state, and federal policymakers and have back-channel influence to pass legislation that puts more people behind bars, adds to private prison populations and generates tremendous profits at U.S.taxpayers expense.
Impacts of Jail Expansion in New York State: A Hidden Burden
By Dana Kaplan, Center for Constitutional Rights. May 2007.
An excellent, comprehensive report on what is driving the building of jails in NYS includes important race-based analysis and recommendations to alternatives to jail building includes findings that that:
- Between 1999 and 2006, the New York state prison population had dropped from 71,000 to 62,928 people, a decrease of 8 percent in less than a decade. Despite the decrease in the prison population, the combined capacity of jails in upstate and suburban New York increased by 20.
- Jail construction has cost counties an estimated $1 billion, raising local property taxes in some instances as much as 40 percent and diverting money away from social services.
- The growth in the number of people incarcerated in jails has not been caused by an increase in crime or by an increase in population-rather, it has been caused by the expansion mandates issued by the SCOC and new arrest and detention policies, including arrest policies for low-level offenses and misdemeanors; a rising number of mentally ill people in jail; system inefficiencies; and the use of local jails to hold those detained by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Jail Leaders Speak: Current & Future Challenges to Jail Administration and Operations
A Summary Report To The Bureau of Justice Assistance July 27, 2007 The Center for Innovative Public Policies, Inc. A few excerpts:
- "we have to stop looking at ourselves as just jailers, and look at ourselves as part of a social service provider system...let's embrace this problem, fight for the funding, and just do it"
- "participants suggested that jails need to explore nothing less than a fundamental mission change that expands their official role beyond just traditional incarceration functions toward becoming an acknowledged medical/mental health service provider for an un-served segment of the local population"
- "this will require the type of public attitude change and widespread commitment with funding, that can only be accomplished with a national initiative"
- "with regard to re-entry endeavors, a similar theme was observed in terms of expanding the traditionally recognized boundaries of the jail to encompass the transitional services that have heretofore remained relatively exclusively within the realm of state corrections systems"
- "again, jail representatives are looking not only to officially acknowledge and bring into the operational mainstream a role that has long been neglected, but also to employ it to enhance their value-added position in the community"
No Escape: Exposure to Toxic Coal Waste at State Correctional Institution Fayette
(September 2014) A Report by the Abolitionist Law Center and the Human Rights Coalition.
"Surrounded by 'about 40 million tons of waste, two coal slurry ponds, and millions of cubic yards of coal combustion waste,' SCI Fayette is inescapably situated in the midst of a massive toxic waste dump."
Prison Bed Profiteers: How Corporations Are Reshaping Criminal Justice in the U.S.
National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD): A new report focusing on the disconnect between claims made by supporters of prison privatization and the true impact of the private prison industry. The report provides jurisdictions, communities, and advocates with information and recommendations regarding slowing the growth of private prisons and improving existing facilities.
Prisons, Jobs and Privatization: the Impact of Prisons on Employment Growth in Rural U.S. Counties, 1997-2004
By Shaun Genter, Tacoma Community College, Gregory Hooks, Washington State University,
Clayton Mosher, Washington State University. January 2013. Social Science Research.
Professors and Prison Guards: An Overview of California’s State Workforce
California Budget Project. April 2010. Some departments have shrunk these past two decades (most notably, the Department of Food and Agriculture declined 17 percent in payroll over that period). But one department has ballooned. The total state prison corrections budget has literally doubled over those same two decades; the system has grown at four times the rate of the rest of state employment.
Ultimately, the report makes a good case that (a) the prison system is a runaway train for state spending, and (b) that California is not going to be able to drastically reduce state employment without having a major impact on direct services to residents.
Texas Prison Bid'ness: An Interactive Map of Texas' Private Prisons
Texas is home to more than 70 private prisons, jails, and detention centers. The map gives readers a chance to see which private prison corporations operate the most prisons in Texas. The map also includes contact information for each facility, and the "facility pages"and "company pages" will track upcoming posts related to scandals and news involving specific private prison companies and their facilities.
The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers
Vera Institute of Justice. January 2012. State taxpayers pay, on average, 14 percent more on prisons than corrections department budgets reflect, according to the report The report found that among the 40 states that responded to a survey, the total fiscal year 2010 taxpayer cost of prisons was $38.8 billion, $5.4 billion more than in state corrections budgets for that year. When all costs are considered, the annual average taxpayer cost in these states was $31,166 per inmate.
PARTICIPATING STATES: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho. Illinois
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island. Texas, Utah,
Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. Download the report and fact sheets for each participating state at http://vera.org/priceofprisons.
Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America
The Sentencing Project. January 2012. The report details the history of private prisons in America, documents the increase in their use, and examines their purported benefits. Among the report's major findings:
- From 1999 to 2010 the use of private prisons increased by 40 percent at the state level and by 784 percent in the federal prison system.
- In 2010 seven states housed more than a quarter of their prison population in private facilities.
- Claims of private prisons' cost effectiveness are overstated and largely illusory.
- The services provided by private prisons are generally inferior to those found in publicly operated facilities.
- Private prison companies spend millions of dollars each year attempting to influence policy at the state and federal level.
Yes, In My Backyard
Yes, In My Backyard is a web-based clearinghouse of information on closing and reusing prisons in the United States. It provide facts, opinions and ideas about what happens when prisons close and how the empty buildings and surrounding property can be re-purposed in ways that benefit communities. The Project reports on prison and jail closures and reuse in urban, suburban and rural areas and is particularly concerned with the challenges of closing and reusing prisons in economically struggling rural places.
Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women's Legal Status and Public Health
Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law (January 15, 2013). By Lynn M. Paltrow, NAPW Executive Director, and Jeanne Flavin, Professor of Sociology at Fordham University and NAPW Board President. This study makes clear that post-Roe anti-abortion and "pro-life" measures are being used to do more than limit access to abortion; they are providing the basis for arresting women, locking them up, and forcing them to submit to medical interventions, including surgery. The cases documented in our study, as well as recent cases, make clear that, 40 years after Roe v. Wade was decided, far more is at stake than abortion or women's reproductive rights. Pregnant women face attacks on virtually every right associated with constitutional personhood, including the very basic right to physical liberty.
CASASARD: Intensive Case Management Program for Drug-Addicted Mothers
A new approach to helping drug-addicted women on welfare that treats substance abuse and addiction as a chronic disease promises better outcomes of sobriety and employment than current approaches that focus on employment first, according to new research from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University. Researchers found that the case-management group had three times greater rates of treatment initiation, engagement and retention, were almost twice as likely to be abstinent at 12- and 24-month follow-ups, and were more than twice as likely to be employed full-time after two years. The study was published in the February 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
Caught in the Net: The Impact of Drug Policy on Women and Families
(2005). By the ACLU, Break the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs, the Brennan Center at NYU School of Law
The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration
Marc Mauer. The Sentencing Project. Feb 2013. The report analyzes data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and found that in the year 2000 African American women were incarcerated at six times the rate of white women, by 2009 that disparity had dropped by half, to less than three times the white rate.
Overall, during this period the black women’s rate of incarceration declined by 30.7%, while the rate for white women increased by 47.1% and for Latinas by 23.3%. These figures represent national trends, and are likely to vary considerably by state, depending on such factors as crime rates, sentencing policy, and socioeconomics.
Children of Incarcerated Parents
Barnard Center for Research on Women, Spring 2010. This important issue of the on-line journal addresses the ways in which incarceration unravels entire communities, the way it dismantles and fragments families, and, specifically, the ways in which it devastates the lives of children.
Children on the Outside: Voicing the Pain and Human Costs of Parental Incarceration
Justice Strategies Report. Patricia Allard and Judith Greene, Justice Strategies, January 2011. "Although the pain of losing a parent to prison is tantamount in many respects to losing a parent to death or divorce, the children who remain 'on the outside' appear to suffer a special stigma. Unlike children of the deceased or divorced who tend to benefit from society's familiarity with and acceptance of their loss, children of the incarcerated too often grow up and grieve under a cloud of low expectations and amidst a swirling set of assumptions that they will fail, that they will themselves resort to a life of crime or that they too will succumb to a life of drug addiction." Justice Strategies, a project of the Tides Center, Inc., is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization. Our mission is to provide high quality policy research to advocates and policymakers pursuing more humane and cost-effective approaches to criminal justice and immigration law enforcement.
Dignity Denied: the Price of Imprisoning Older Women in California
Documents the conditions of confinement for the more than 350 women over the age of 55 in state prisons. Because of the "Three Strikes" law and a reluctance to grant parole, more Californians are growing older in prison than ever before. It is estimated that by 2022, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will incarcerate about 30,000 elders. Due to health-related expenses, the annual cost of imprisoning an older person, at a conservative estimate, is at least $70,000, twice that of a younger prisoner. The report questions the wisdom of committing such vast economic resources for the continued punishment of older
prisoners, the group with the lowest recidivism rate of any segment of the prison population.
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.
From Protection to Punishment: Post-Conviction Barriers to Justice for Domestic Violence Survivor-Defendants in New York State
Report by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice and the Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York on the barriers to justice faced by domestic violence survivor-defendants (2011).
A Higher Hurdle: Barriers to Employment for Formerly Incarcerated Women
By Morris, Sumner and Borja. The Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. December 2008. The Henderson Center created resumes that were sent in pairs to Bay Area employers who had advertised job openings. For each job listing, one resume in the pair included a period of incarceration, the other did not. Key results included:
When resumes indicated a recent period of incarceration, applicants were 31% less likely to receive a positive response compared to women whose resumes did not indicate a recent period of incarceration. Resumes submitted by African American women received the fewest positive responses.
Annotated bibliography: The Henderson Center also completed an annotated bibliography, summarizing the findings of more than 50 research studies and other articles. The summaries provide an overview of the challenges faced by formerly incarcerated people as they struggle to reenter the workforce and their communities after being released.
Incarcerated Parents and Their Children: Trends, 1991-2007
"Incarcerated Parents and Their Children: Trends, 1991-2007" reviews data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and documents the growing impact of incarceration on children and families. As of 2007, 1.7 million children had a parent in prison, an 82% increase from the figure of 936,000 in 1991. The racial/ethnic variation among this group is quite broad: 1 in 15 African-American children has a parent in prison, as does 1 in 42 Latino children and 1 in 111 white children.
Due to the distance from home in which many parents are incarcerated - 62% of parents in state prisons are more than 100 miles from home - visits from children are declining over time. In 2004, more than half of parents in state prisons and nearly half in federal prisons had never had a visit from their children. The Sentencing Project. February 2009.
The Intersectionality of Race, Gender, and Reentry: Challenges for African-American Women
By Geneva Brown (November 2010). Explores the unique and cumulative difficulties that African-American women face in the reentry process. The brief, published by the American Constitution Society, highlights the impact that the war on drugs and the mass incarceration of African-Americans have had on communities, particularly women of color.
Invisible Bars: Barriers to Women's Health and Well-Being During and After Incarceration
By Kim Carter, Time for Change Foundation. A new
study of women, health care, and other needs, in the CA
Institution for Women in San Bernardino and the needs
of women after they leave prison. The study was done by
women who have been incarcerated and who others who
advocate for women.
Mothers Behind Bars: A state-by-state report card and analysis of federal policies on conditions of confinement for pregnant and parenting women and the effect on their children
National Women's Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights released the Mothers Behind Bars report, which explores the egregious practice of shackling women during childbirth and other important issues affecting pregnant and parenting women—the vast majority of whom are non-violent, first-time offenders. In the report, each state is graded on whether it has adequate policies—or any policies at all—on prenatal care, shackling, and family-based drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Twenty states and the District of Columbia receive overall failing grades. The report also identifies steps that the federal government could take to improve conditions of confinement for women in federal facilities, including prisons and immigration detention.
Mothers, Infants and Imprisonment
Women's Prison Association. "Mothers, Infants and Imprisonment" profiles existing and soon-to-open prison nursery programs in nine states: California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia, and also looks at community-based residential parenting programs in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Vermont. In addition, residential parenting programs operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and West Virginia are discussed. Many women parenting their infants in prison nurseries could be doing so in the community instead, the report finds. The profile of women in prison nurseries is nearly identical to that of participants in community-based programs. Women in both types of programs are serving relatively short sentences for non-violent offenses, and will continue primary caretaking responsibility for their child(ren) upon release. Further, most women in prison nursery programs present little risk to public safety. Women's Prison Association (May 2009)
People, Places, and Things: The Social Process of Reentry for Female Ex-Offenders
By Andrea M. Leverentz. August 2006. Source:
National Institute of Justice. This study examined the
social lives of female with felony convictions to
determine the features of their relationships after
their release from prison.
Reducing the Incarceration of Women: Community-Based Alternatives
By Andrea Wolf. National Council on Crime and Delinquency. August 2006.
"BACKGROUND: Currently, there are over 10,000 women in
jail, 12,000 women in prison, and 12,000 women on
parole in California. NCCD's report, Reducing the
Incarceration of Women: Community-Based Alternatives,
spells out an effective strategy for reform for over
two-thirds of the women in prison in our state. Recent
research reveals that women could be much more
effectively rehabilitated in their home communities,
close to their children-the best known motivator for
change. Women in community programs that provide
comprehensive services and give them frequent contact
with their children in a healthy environment re-offend
at a rate of just 14 percent -- a sharp contrast with
the typical rate of 46 percent. Assembly Bill 1XX,
introduced by Assemblywoman Lieber, provides community-
based facilities for 4,500 women inmates." My
question is, if 87% of the 12,000 women who are in
prison in CA are there for non-violent convictions, why
is that this proposal wants 4,500 of them to be
incarcerated in secure "community-based"
Reproductive Injustice: The State of Reproductive Health Care for Women in New York State
By Tamar Kraft-Stolar. Women in Prison Project, Correctional Assoc. of NY. Feb. 2015 . Highlights of our key findings in “Reproductive Injustice” about reproductive health care in the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) are: 1) Women are routinely shackled during pregnancy and some still experience the horror of being shackled during childbirth, even though this practice was outlawed in NY in 2009. 2) Pregnant women face poor conditions of confinement, including insufficient food and damaging childbirth experiences.3) Many women receive substandard reproductive health care and face serious delays in accessing GYN services. 4) Women are routinely denied basic reproductive health items, including contraception and sufficient sanitary supplies. 5) Women in solitary confinement face egregious conditions, and pregnant women can be, and are, placed in solitary, a dangerous setting for them and their babies.
Reproductive Rights in Theory and Practice: The Meaning of Roe v. Wade for Women in Prison
By Rachel Roth. January 20, 2006. Center for American Progress. In
1973, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, there were
about 14,000 women incarcerated in the United States; today, there are over 180,000.
If the ultimate legacy of Roe is that women have the freedom to make decisions
about pregnancy and motherhood, then what does this anniversary mean to women
who are literally not free, those in jails, prisons, and immigration detention
centers? Because prisons are shielded from public scrutiny, and the women in them
are "out of sight and out of mind," their concerns rarely enter the
debate about reproductive rights and health.
She Doesn’t Deserve to be Treated Like This: Prisons as Sites of Reproductive Injustice
By Rachel Roth. The Center for Women Policy Studies: Reproductive Laws for the 21st Century (August 2012)
"The quotation in the title comes from a Pennsylvania grandmother whose 22 year-old granddaughter was left to give birth all alone, locked in a prison cell. No matter how she tried to convince the prison staff that she needed to go to a hospital, they wouldn’t listen.
This is just one of many chilling stories about the inhumane treatment of pregnant women behind prison walls. The United States imprisons more people than any other country, and this pattern is especially pronounced when it comes to women: fully one-third of all the women and girls in prison worldwide are right here in the U.S."--Rachel Roth
State Standards for Pregnancy-Related Health Care in Prisons
ACLU on-line Guide provides a short summary of minimum national standards for pregnancy care in correctional facilities; an overview of how different state policies measure up; and a state-by-state directory where you can view pregnancy-related correctional policies available online, or find contact information to request policies from state department of corrections.
For additional information about the rights of pregnant women who are incarcerated, and the ACLU's work to secure these rights in prison and jails throughout the country go to http://www.aclu.org/reproductiverights/abortion/index.html.
Stop the Expansion of Women's Prisons
From Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), December 2006. 30 pages. Statements and position papers from CURB, academia, the community, legislators and others focusing on organizing to stop the expansion of community-based jails for women in CA.
When Free Means Losing Your Mother: The Collision of Child Welfare and the Incarceration of Women in New York State
This report by the Correctional Association of New York
examines the damaging, far-reaching and often
overlooked collateral consequences of maternal
incarceration on children and families. The report
includes interviews with caregivers, foster care
workers, formerly incarcerated mothers and young people
with mothers in prison, and offers practical
recommendations for criminal justice, corrections and
child welfare policy reforms."
"This report by the Correctional Association
of New York examines the damaging, far-reaching and
often overlooked collateral consequences of maternal
incarceration on children and families. The report
includes interviews with caregivers, foster care
workers, formerly incarcerated mothers and young people
with mothers in prison, and offers practical
recommendations for criminal justice, corrections and
child welfare policy reforms." February 2006.
Women in the Criminal Justice System
May 2007. The Sentencing Project. The series documents the gender implications of changes that have occurred over the last 20 years within the criminal justice system, including expansive law enforcement, stiffer drug sentencing laws and re-entry barriers. Women in the Criminal Justice System notes that since 1985 the number of women in prison has increased at almost double the rate of incarcerated men - 404 percent vs. 209 percent. Reasons for the increasing rate for women are directly related to the 'war on drugs,' economic disadvantage, and the criminal justice system's failure to carefully consider women's involvement in crimes. The analysis also reports that 30 percent of all females incarcerated are black and 16 percent are Hispanic. Further, the briefing sheets delve into family, socioeconomic and physical and mental health issues that women - and their families - face as a result of being incarcerated. Women in the Criminal Justice System contains five sections: Overview; Involvement in Crime; Mothers in Prison; Inadequacies in Prison Services; and Barriers to Re-entering the Community.
The Answer is No: Too Little Compassionate Release in US Federal Prisons
November 2012. A joint report by Human Rights Watch and Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
This 128-page report is the first comprehensive examination of how compassionate release in the federal system works. Congress authorized compassionate release because it realized that changed circumstances could make continued imprisonment senseless and inhumane, Human Rights Watch and FAMM said. But if the Bureau of Prisons refuses to bring prisoners’ cases to the courts, judges cannot rule on whether release is warranted. Since 1992, the Bureau of Prisons has averaged annually only two dozen motions to the courts for early release, out of a prison population that now exceeds 218,000. The Bureau of Prisons does not keep records of the number of prisoners who seek compassionate release.
Back to School: A Guide to Continuing Your Education After Prison
(2010) In 2008 the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Prisoner Reentry Institute, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, developed a planning and information guide for prisoners nearing release. In 2010, the Department of Education updated the guide (link below). Free copies are available in limited quantities from the Department of Education's materials distribution center, EDPubs. (Visit EDPubs at www.EDPubs.gov, call 1-877-4EDPUBS, or write to ED Pubs; P.O. Box 22207; Alexandria, VA 22304 and request item number ED005088P.)
Barred Forever: Seniors, Housing, and Sex Offense Registration
By Patricia Warth, Co-Director of CCA/Justice Strategies. (July 2013) The article which is published in the current volume of the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy explores the unfair, harmful and counterproductive consequences of laws that prevent people convicted of sex offenses from accessing public and supportive housing. The article offers recommendations that would both ensure public safety while allowing people convicted of sex offenses to live stable lives and access the services that they need, particularly as senior citizens.
Barriers to Employment: Prison Time
by John Pawasarat, Employment and Training Institute, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2007.
Approximately 40% of African American men between 25 and 34 living in Milwaukee had been previously imprisoned as compared to 5% for the white and Hispanic population. The number of previously incarcerated men and women released to Milwaukee Co increased from 2,000 in 1983 to 8,000 in 2005. The report showed that possession of a driver’s license to be more important than education level in determining whether a person can attain and maintain employment. Specific recommendations are made for programs in prisons so prisoners can begin the process of regaining the license before release.
Boxed Out: Criminal History Screening and College Application Attrition
Written by Alan Rosenthal, Esq., Advisor on Special Projects and Counsel; Emily NaPier, M.A., Senior Research Associate; Patricia Warth, Esq. Director of Justice Strategies; and Marsha Weissman, Ph.D., Executive Director. This report builds upon CCA's 2010 study, "The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions Reconsidered." It makes clear how the criminal history box on college applications and the supplemental requirements and procedures that follow create barriers to higher education for otherwise qualified applicants. March 2015.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: The Intermediate Sanctions Programs Lacked Performance Benchmarks and Were Plagued with Implementation Problems
(#2005-11). A couple of years ago, the legislature passed a series of measures designed to reduce California's off-the-charts parole revocation rates -- parolees are returned to prison on technical violations at twice the national average. The state auditor has released a report on the failure of the parole reform. November 2005.
California's Parole Experiment
By Jeremy Travis and Sarah Lawrence, Urban Institute, 2002. "California's policy is expensive, burdensome and with proof of being more effective." A look from 2002 at one important element driving extreme over-crowding in California's prisons.
Charging Inmates Perpetuates Mass Incarceration
By Lauren-Brooke Eisen (May 2015), The Brennan Center for Justice.
The American criminal justice system is replete with fees that attempt to shift costs from the government to those accused and convicted of breaking the law. Courts impose monetary sanctions on a “substantial majority of the millions of U.S. residents convicted of felony and misdemeanor crimes each year.” Every aspect of the criminal justice process has become ripe for charging a fee. In fact, an estimated 10 million people owe more than $50 billion in debt resulting from their involvement in the criminal justice system. In the last few decades, additional fees have proliferated, such as charges for police transport, case filing, felony surcharges, electronic monitoring, drug testing, and sex offender registration. Unlike fines, whose purpose is to punish, and restitution, which is intended to compensate victims of crimes for their loss, user fees are intended to raise revenue.
The Collateral Effects of Incarceration on Fathers, Families, and Communities
By Council on Crime and Justice (March 2006).
Focusing on racial disparities in the Minnesota
criminal justice system, this report examines the
effects of imprisonment on family relationships from
the perspective of fathers, including a focus on their
strengths and struggles behind bars and upon reentry
into their communities. In addition, the report
examines community dynamics and resources within
neighborhoods experiencing high levels of reentry or
exit due to incarceration.
The Commercial Bail Industry: Profit or Public Safety?
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) publication reviews the political strategies utilized by the commercial bail industry to influence criminal justice policy. A really interesting report on the commercial bail industry, ALEC and how the bail industry fosters jail overcrowding. (May 2012)
The publication finds that:The commercial bail industry’s political agenda is profit-driven and contributes to California’s overcrowded jail population. On average, 50,000 of the 71,000 (71%) California inmates held in county jails have not yet been convicted of a crime and are simply awaiting their trial date. At $100 per day, California’s pretrial detainee population is costing taxpayers approximately $1.8 billion annually, which is more than half of the state’s current $3 billion budget shortfall. The bail industry has consistently worked in direct opposition against publicly funded pretrial service agencies to undermine the accountability and funding allocations of these programs.
The Continuing Challenge of CORI Reform: Implementing the Groundbreaking 2010 Massachusetts Law
The Boston Foundation The Crime and Justice Institute at CRJ. By Gabriella Priest, Julie Finn and Len Engel. Crime and Justice Institute at CRJ, May 2012
Two years ago Governor Patrick signed into law An Act Reforming the Administrative Procedures Relative to Criminal Offender Record Information. This legislation, which was the result of years of intense education and lobbying, was intended to reform the state’s criminal offender records information system (CORI) to improve employment and housing opportunities for ex-offenders—thereby easing their re-integration into society and reducing recidivism. Two years into implementation of the law, this report reviews its effectiveness and ascertains how close the reality is to meeting the high expectations we had when it passed.
Court Debt and Related Incarceration in Rhode Island
This report details the process of assessing and collecting court fees, including the related period of incarceration. It concludes that the most common reason for putting someone in jail in RI is for court debt, and that in many cases that process costs the state more than the individual owed. Rhode Island Family Life Center. May 2007.
Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry
By Alicia Bannon, Mitali Nagrecha, Rebekah Diller
10/04/10, The Brennan Center for Justice.
Many states are imposing new and often onerous 'user fees' on individuals with criminal convictions. Yet far from being easy money, these fees impose severe – and often hidden – costs on communities, taxpayers, and indigent people convicted of crimes. They create new paths to prison for those unable to pay their debts and make it harder to find employment and housing as well to meet child support obligations.
This report examines practices in the fifteen states with the highest prison populations, which together account for more than 60 percent of all state criminal filings. We focused primarily on the proliferation of "user fees," financial obligations imposed not for any traditional criminal justice purpose such as punishment, deterrence, or rehabilitation but rather to fund tight state budgets.
Across the board, we found that states are introducing new user fees, raising the dollar amounts of existing fees, and intensifying the collection of fees and other forms of criminal justice debt such as fines and restitution. But in the rush to collect, made all the more intense by the fiscal crises in many states, no one is considering the ways in which the resulting debt can undermine reentry prospects, pave the way back to prison or jail, and result in yet more costs to the public.
Does it Pay to Invest In Jail Re-Entry Programs for Jail Inmates
John Roman and Aaron Chalfin, Urban Institute Re-Entry Roundtable. June 2006. Cost benefit analysis for "re-entry" program in jails focusing on low cost programs in the Hampden County Jail (MA), high cost programs in Montgomery County MD, and contracted programs in Chicago. The paper includes statistical information on the increasing costs of jails from 1983 to 2003 (an increase of 600%) and 3 times the number of cells during the same period. They find that even a modest re-entry program in jails yields considerable benefits. Non-contracted re-entry services might be expected to return between $4.40 to $9.00 in social benefits for each $1 invested. And, if over time, re-entry programs persist, greater benefits will accrue.
Education Suspended: The Use of High School Disciplinary Records in College Admissions
Written by Marsha Weissman, Ph.D., Executive Director and Emily NaPier, M.A., Senior Associate of Research and Public Affairs. The use of harsh discipline in elementary and high schools – suspensions and expulsions – has skyrocketed since the mid-1990s, and there is now growing awareness about the harmful effects of such practices. Largely neglected in the conversation, however, has been the impact on college admissions. This report highlights findings from CCA's national surveys of college admissions officials and high school guidance counselors.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults
By Lois M. Davis, Robert Bozick, Jennifer L. Steele, Jessica Saunders, Jeremy N. V. Miles
After conducting a comprehensive literature search, the authors undertook a meta-analysis to examine the association between correctional education and reductions in recidivism, improvements in employment after release from prison, and learning in math and in reading. Their findings support the premise that receiving correctional education while incarcerated reduces an individual's risk of recidivating. They also found that those receiving correctional education had improved odds of obtaining employment after release. The authors also examined the benefits of computer-assisted learning and compared the costs of prison education programs with the costs of reincarceration.
Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Probation Revocation - Summary Findings and Implications from a Multisite Study
Jesse Jannetta, Justin Breaux, Helen Ho, Jeremy Porter . Urban Institute
This brief presents summary findings from an Urban Institute study examining the degree of racial and ethnic disparity in probation revocation outcomes and the drivers of that disparity in four diverse probation jurisdictions. Black probationers were revoked at higher rates than white and Hispanic probationers in all study sites. Differences in risk assessment scores and criminal history were major contributors to the black–white disparity. Results for disparity to the disadvantage of Hispanic probationers were mixed. The brief concludes with a discussion of policy implications for probation and the criminal justice system as a whole.
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.
A Guide for Attorneys representing College Applicants and Students During and After Criminal Proceedings
With a growing number of colleges and universities screening applicants for past criminal justice involvement, this Guide is a important tool for defense attorneys who seek to ensure that higher education remains an option for their current or past clients with dreams of one day graduating from college. Since higher education reduces recidivism, this Guide provides key strategies for enriching lives, increasing opportunities, and making our communities safer for all of us. "The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions: Reconsidered" and Passport to the Future: Accessing Higher Education in an Era of Mass Incarceration, a documentary film exploring barriers to college admissions for applicants with criminal records are also available at CCA's website.
Improving Outcomes for People with Mental Illnesses under Community Corrections Supervision: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice
The Justice Center: March 2009. The Guide reviews the body of recent research on community corrections supervision for people with mental illnesses and translates the findings to help officials develop effective interventions. Based on other recent prevalence studies, the Guide indicates that an unprecedented number of these individuals have serious mental illnesses. These individuals are more likely than others to have their community sentences revoked, return to jail or prison, and become more deeply involved in the criminal justice system. This first-of-its-kind guide helps program planners and policymakers apply research on promising practices to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses under community corrections supervision.
"More than 1.5 million people released from jail each year have serious mental illnesses and many will require special supervision strategies and treatments to safely and successfully rejoin their communities," said Nevada Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, the specialty courts coordinator of the state's Second Judicial District and Justice Center board member. The Guide indicates that community corrections and mental health officials are increasingly aware that they are serving the same individuals without positive effect. It explores the extent to which people with mental illnesses become involved in the community corrections system, and why traditional supervision and treatment strategies are not generally effective for this population.
In For a Penny: The Rise of America's New Debtors' Prisons
(October 2010) This ACLU report presents the results of a yearlong investigation into modern-day "debtors' prisons," and shows that poor defendants are being jailed at increasingly alarming rates for failing to pay legal debts they can never hope to afford. The report details how across the country, in the face of mounting budget deficits, states are more aggressively going after poor people who have already served their criminal sentences. These modern-day debtors' prisons impose devastating human costs, waste taxpayer money and resources, undermine our criminal justice system, are racially skewed, and create a two-tiered system of justice.
Incarcerating people simply because they cannot afford to pay their legal debts not only is unconstitutional but it has a devastating impact upon men and women, whose only crime is that they are poor.
Mapping Prisoner Reentry: An Action Research Guidebook
The Reentry Mapping Network (RMN) is a partnership among community-based
organizations and the Urban Institute designed to create community change
through the mapping and analysis of neighborhood- level data related to
prisoner reentry. RMN partners collect and analyze local data related to
incarceration, reentry, and community well-being; develop policy options
based on the findings; and document their accomplishments and lessons
learned. This guidebook provides information on how to understand and
address prisoner reentry at the community level through mapping and
analysis. It describes the concepts and methods underlying the RMN so that
other jurisdictions can learn from these experiences in the interests of
crafting more effective and successful reentry strategies in their
communities. The key steps to doing so are highlighted below. (Sept. 2005)
The Mark of a Criminal Record
By Devah Pager, American Journal of Sociology, March 2003. A criminal record represents a major barrier to employment with important implications for racial disparities. The article focuses on the consequences of incarceration for the employment outcomes of black and white job seekers.
Maryland's Parole Supervision Fee: A Barrier to Reentry
By Rebekah Diller, Judith Greene, & Michelle Jacobs.
Brennan Center for Justice (March 2009). Given the
increasing use of economic sanctions by state
governments, people entering the criminal justice
system are unlikely to leave it without incurring new
debt. For example, Maryland law authorizes charges for
everything from an individual's initial arrest, to the
costs of a constitutionally mandated public defender,
to the costs of the individual's supervision on
probation or parole. Most of these charges are
unrelated to the criminal system's putative goals of
punishment, deterrence, incapacitation, and
rehabilitation. Instead, they are designed to subsidize
state budgets. This growing category of debt created by
fees levied to generate revenue is distinct from fines
and restitution, the two more traditional categories of
criminal justice-related "legal financial obligations,"
or "LFOs." Fines are the traditional monetary penalty,
usually based on the severity of crime, imposed to
punish an individual. Restitution, a court-ordered
payment by the offender to compensate the victim for
financial loss resulting from the crime, is rooted in a
restorative justice approach that emphasizes repairing
the harm of criminal behavior. Revenue-generating
"fees," on the other hand, are assessed not for any
criminal justice purpose, but rather to fund state
budgets. They are imposed on a largely indigent
population, rather than on the general tax-paying
populace. And, they are imposed without regard to their
impact on the ability of persons convicted of a crime
to reenter society after completing court-mandated
punishment. The parole supervision fee in Maryland - a
monthly obligation of $40 that totals of hundreds of
dollars over the course of the parole term - is just such
National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction
American Bar Assoc. Dec. 2014. This is a state by state compilation of all laws and restrictions of on-going punishments....aka "collateral consequences," imposed on people because of past convictions.
People, Places, and Things: The Social Process of Reentry for Female Ex-Offenders
By Andrea M. Leverentz. August 2006. Source:
National Institute of Justice. This study examined the
social lives of female with felony convictions to
determine the features of their relationships after
their release from prison.
Priorities for the New Presidential Administration to Reduce Poverty through Transitional Jobs Programs
The National Transitional Jobs Network is requesting $1 billion dollars over five years in new dedicated sources of Transitional Jobs funding as well as alterations and clarifications of current law in various programs to facilitate use of current funding streams for Transitional Jobs programs.
Prisons Do Not Reduce Recidivism :The High Cost of Ignoring Science
By Francis T. Cullen, Cheryl Lero Jonson and Daniel S. Nagin. The Prison Journal 2011 91: 48S originally published online 19 July 2011.
A 2007 report by the Council of State Governments' Justice Center. Found that "people released from prisons and jails typically must make payments to a host of agencies, including probation departments, courts and child support enforcement offices." Three-fourths of those owing child support, restitution and supervision fees have difficulty paying these debts.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a
first-of-its-kind comprehensive guide, supported by the U.S. Justice
Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance that details how policymakers can
increase financial accountability among people leaving correctional
facilities, improve rates of child support collection and victim
restitution, and make individuals' transition from prisons and jails to the
community safe and successful.
People released from prisons and jails typically must make payments to a
host of agencies, including probation departments, courts, attorney
generals' offices, and child support enforcement offices. While coordinated
collections efforts among these agencies could increase rates of repayment
to victims, families, and criminal justice agencies, there is rarely a
single agency tracking all of an individual's court-ordered debts and
The report recommends very specific strategies to improve how people
released from prisons and jails meet their court-ordered financial
obligations. It also provides examples from states that have successfully
implemented some aspect of these strategies, including Arizona, California,
Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New
Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Rhode
Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council
This 600 page report issued in January 2005 presents recommendations and analysis developed by the Re-entry Policy Council
(RPC), an organization consisting of over 100 policymakers representing diverse
constituencies. The RPC is sponsored by the Council of State Governments, a nonpartisan
organization that tracks all branches of state government, plus 11 additional
Restoration of Rights Project
NACDL is pleased to offer, as a resource for its members and as a service to the public, a collection of individual downloadable documents that profile the law and practice in each U.S. jurisdiction relating to relief from the collateral consequences of conviction. The 54 jurisdictional profiles include provisions on loss and restoration of civil rights and firearms privileges, legal mechanisms for overcoming or mitigating collateral consequences, and provisions addressing non-discrimination in employment and licensing. In addition to the full profiles, there is a set of charts covering all 50 states (plus territories and the federal system) that provide a side-by-side comparison and make it possible to see national patterns in restoration laws and policies. The information covered by the charts is summarized on the page for each jurisdiction. These materials will be an enormous aid to lawyers in minimizing the collateral consequences suffered by clients and in restoring their rights and status.
Risk as a Proxy for Race
By Bernard E. Harcourt, University of Chicago - Law School, Criminology and Public Policy, Forthcoming. University of Chicago Law & Economics Olin Working Paper No. 535. Abstract:
Today, an increasing chorus argues that risk-assessment instruments are a politically feasible way to resolve our problem of mass incarceration and reduce prison populations. In this essay, Harcourt argues against this progressive argument for prediction: using risk-assessment tools to decrease prison populations would unquestionably aggravate the already intolerable racial imbalance in our prison populations and will not address the real source of mass incarceration, namely the admissions process. Risk has collapsed into prior criminal history, and prior criminal history has become a proxy for race. This means that using risk-assessment tools, even for progressive ends, is going to significantly aggravate the already unacceptable racial disparities in our criminal justice system. Instead of turning to prediction, we need to address prison admissions. Recent evidence suggests that our carceral excess was not so much fueled by the length of sentences, as it was by the front end: new admissions. The real solution to mass incarceration, then, is not to cut short prison terms though prediction, but to reduce admissions to prison.
Smoothing the Path from Prison to Home: A Summary and a Roundtable Discussion on the Lessons of Project Greenlight
By James A. Wilson, Yury Cheryachukin, Robert C. Davis,
Jean Dauphinee, Robert Hope, Kajal Gehi, and Timothy
Ross. This publication combines two parts: A roundtable
discussion (13 pages) and a summary report (15 pages).
We are also publishing a technical report (155
pages) that supplements this publication, introduced by
the roundtable discussion. This report presents
research findings about Project Greenlight, reentry
demonstration project that the Vera Institute of
Justice conducted at the Queensboro Correctional
Facility in Queens, New York, from February 2002 to
Drawing upon research literature and demonstrated best
practices, Greenlight sought to reduce recidivism among
soon-to-be-released men by working with corrections and
parole staff to address a spectrum of reentry issues
during the last 60 days in prison. Despite these
efforts, however, Vera researchers found that arrest
rates among Greenlight's 348 participants were higher
than those of two different comparison groups.While
disappointing, these findings present the field of
prison reentry with a valuable learning opportunity.
The technical and summary reports now available on our
web site are supplemented by an edited transcript of an
April 2005 roundtable discussion about the project that
was attended by prominent researchers, expert
practitioners, and former Greenlight and select Vera
staff. The edited transcript covers many issues that
could have factored into the disappointing outcomes and
present lessons for current and future programs that
are designed to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes
for men and women returning to the community from
State Recidivism Studies
The Sentencing Project. June 2010. The database provides references for 99 recidivism studies conducted between 1995-2009 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These studies have been produced by a variety of agencies, including departments of corrections, sentencing commissions, statistical analysis centers, and universities. The studies address issues including juvenile/adult status, race, gender, offense type, program intervention, and many others, and thus offer insights into the variety of factors that affect recidivism outcomes.
State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons
Pew Center on the States, April 2011. In the first ever state-by-state survey of recidivism rates, state corrections data show that nearly 43 percent of prisoners released in 2004, and 45 percent of those released in 1999 were reincarcerated within three years, either for committing a new crime or violating the terms of their supervised release. Recidivism rates vary widely among the states and there are a number of potential explanations for the differences. Many relate to whether corrections agencies are using evidence-based practices and to deliberate policy decisions, such as the types of people sentenced to prison, how prisoners are selected for release, how long they are under supervision, and decisions about how to respond when people who have been incarcerated break the rules of their release.
Of the 33 states that reported data for both 1999 and 2004 releases, recidivism rates fell in 17 states and climbed in 15 states, while one state reported no change. Six states (Alaska, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Vermont) reported that more than half of released offenders returned to state custody within three years in 2004-2007, while five (Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming) had recidivism rates under 30 percent.
A Study of Parole Board Decisions for Lifers
Massachusetts: Phantom Prisoner, 2003-2006. Published May 2007. To contact the Phantom Prisoner and/or subscribe to the Phantom Prisoner Newsletter ($5 for prisoners in stamps or cash and $10 for free world subscribers), write to Phantom Prisoner, Ltd., P.O. Box 114379, Centerdale, RI 02911
A Study of Parole Board Decisions for Lifers 2008
Lifers Group, Norfolk Prison, Massachusetts. Lifers' Group, Inc. of MCI, Norfolk has obtained data from the MA Parole Board on the hearings given Lifers, most of whom were convicted of 2nd degree murder. (A very few were convicted of other crimes which the M.G.L. provides for a maximum sentence of life. Those crimes include rape, poisoning, armed assault within a dwelling, armed robbery, kidnapping with intent to extort, and assault of a child with intent to commit rape.) The very detailed analysis, with discussion, separates decisions by those who are before the Parole board for the first time and those who are applying a subsequent time. Also listed are the reasons that the Parole board gives the applicants, both for approved parole and parole denied, as is their frequency. Finally, the length of setbacks (time needing to elapse before an individual denied parole is allowed to reapply for parole.) is charted.
Texas Parole Guide
By Jorge Renaud. Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. A free parole guide, which provides step-by-step assistance for completing a parole packet. This helpful, comprehensive guide for parole-eligible individuals, called How To Write Parole Packets. This step-by-step guide discusses parole eligibility, a parole plan, criminal and disciplinary history, educational and employment history, substance abuse history, spiritual development, goal and penance statements, and certificates and awards.
The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions Reconsidered
(Center for Community Alternatives-2010) shows that a majority of colleges and universities now collect criminal history information as part of the college admissions procedures. Done in collaboration with the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. The survey found that a broad array of convictions, including convictions for relatively minor offenses, are viewed as negative factors in the context of admissions decision-making.
Among the studies key findings are:
* 66% of the responding colleges collect criminal justice information, although not all of them consider it in their admissions process.
* A sizable minority (38%) of the responding schools does not collect or use criminal justice information and those schools do not report that their campuses are less safe as a result.
* Most schools that collect and use criminal justice information require additional information and procedures before admitting an applicant with a past criminal record including consultation with academic deans and campus security personnel.
* Less than half of the schools that collect and use criminal justice information have written policies in place, and only 40 percent train staff on how to interpret such information.
When All Else Fails, Fining the Family: First Person Accounts of Criminal Justice Debt
Written by Mitali Nagrecha and Mary Fainsod Katzenstein with Estelle Davis. Center for Community Alternatives. Feb. 2015. The report provides first person accounts of the impact of criminal justice debt - child support, victim restitution, fines and fees - on reentry and community reintegration. It discusses how the heavy burden of debt affects not just the returning person him/herself, but their families as well.
When the Gates Open: Ready4Work - A National Response to the Prisoner Reentry Crisis
By Joshua Good and Pamela Sherrid. October 2005, 32 pages.
When the Gates Open describes the emergence of Ready4Work, a 17-site, national ex-prisoner
reentry initiative developed by P/PV. The report outlines the initiative's
basic goals and design, and examines how it is directly confronting the nation's
reentry crisis by drawing on local faith- and community-based organizations to
provide job training, mentoring, case management and job placement services.The
report documents a rare partnership among the business, government, community
and faith sectors, as they come together to confront alarmingly high incarceration
and recidivism rates. It describes key start-up and implementation challenges
and, using early outcomes data, touches on a number of promising practices for
future reentry efforts.
A 'Crazy-Quilt' of Tiny Pieces: State and Local Administration of American Criminal Disenfranchisement Laws
By Alec Ewald, Union College. A new report published by
The Sentencing Project finds widespread confusion and
errors in the implementation of felony
disenfranchisement laws. Among the report's key
findings are: more than one-third (37%) of local
elections officials interviewed misunderstand state
eligibility law. The report concludes that
disenfranchisement is a "time consuming, expensive
practice" and calls on state policymakers to review
voting restrictions, particularly for non-incarcerated
people. The Sentencing Project, November 2005.
Barred for Life: Voting Rights Restoration in Permanent Disenfranchisement States
By Marc Mauer and Tushar Kansal. Examines the rights-restoration process
in the 14 states in which disenfranchisement may last for a lifetime. The study
finds that in 11 of these states, less than 3% of disenfranchised persons have
had their rights restored in recent years. The study identifies a range of obstacles
in most states, including overly cumbersome processes, lengthy and confusing waiting
periods, inappropriate character tests, and inadequate data collection.
Connecticut: Parole Disenfranchisement Analysis
The state of Connecticut expanded voting rights to people on probation in 2001, but parolees are still disenfranchised in the state. Reform efforts are underway to repeal the ban on parolee voting. A new briefing paper by The Sentencing Project analyzes the effect of current policy in the state, and finds that 77% of the affected population is African American and Latino. In addition, Connecticut has experienced a 198% rise in its parole population since 1997, 25 times the average growth rate nationally, thus dramatically increasing the number of citizens who have lost the right to vote.
A Decade of Reform: Felony Disenfranchisement Policy in the U.S.
October 2006. The Sentencing Project has released a new report
revealing a new wave of reforms of state felony voting
laws and growing momentum toward restoring voting
rights. Findings published in "A Decade of Reform:
Felony Disenfranchisement Policy" in the United States
disclose that since 1997, 16 states have implemented
policy reforms that have reduced the restrictiveness of
these laws, and more than 600,000 people in seven
states have regained their voting rights. The report
also states: U.S. disenfranchisement laws remain among
the world's most severe despite public opinion polls
showing 80% support for restoring the vote to those who
have completed their sentences. During this year alone,
73 bills on felony disenfranchisement were introduced
in 22 states and 85% of these initiatives sought to
expand voting rights. More than 5 million Americans
still will be banned from voting this Election Day;
three quarters of those banned - 3.9 million - are
living in the community. An estimated 1 in 12 African
Americans is disenfranchised, a rate nearly five times
the rate of non-African Americans.
Expanding the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, 1997- 2008
Documents a reform movement over the past eleven years that has resulted in more than 760,000 citizens having regained their right to vote. The report found that since 1997, 19 states have amended felony disenfranchisement policies in an effort to reduce their restrictiveness and expand voter eligibility.
The report finds: Nine states either repealed or amended lifetime disenfranchisement laws.Two states expanded voting rights to persons under community supervision (probation and parole).Five states eased the restoration process for persons seeking to have their right to vote restored after completing sentence. The Sentencing Project. September 2008
Felon Disenfranchisement and Democracy in the Late Jim Crow Era
Arguing that there is no reasonable justification behind felon disenfranchisement, "Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy" (Oxford University Press 2006) by Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen is reviewed in the Ohio State University Journal of Criminal Law, entitled "Felon Disenfranchisement and Democracy in the Late Jim Crow Era," by University of Arizona Professor Gabriel J. Chin, and focuses on the history and policy behind disenfranchisement. (November 2007)
Felony Disenfranchisement: An Annotated Bibliography
Provides an overview of more than 80 journal articles and books on felony disenfranchisement over the past two decades. Compiled by Benjamin Bronstein, Jerome Pierce, and Achilles Sangster II, and edited by Marc Mauer. The Sentencing Project. March 2012.
The Modern-Day Poll Tax: How Economic Sanctions Block Access to the Polls
An article by Erika Wood and Neema Trivedi of the Brennan Center for Justice in the Clearinghouse Review, June 2007. The article details the over two-centuries-old tradition of disenfranchisement and how it became a practice in targeting formerly incarcerated individuals. "The spread of felony disenfranchisement laws in the late 1800s was part of a larger backlash against the adoption of the Reconstruction Amendments. Despite newfound eligibility, many freedmen remained practically disenfranchised as a result of organized efforts to prevent them from voting," the article states.
NY Board of Elections Survey: Misinformation Costs Thousands of Eligible New Yorkers Their Vote
Survey of 63 county boards of elections shows that fully one-third are systematically and improperly preventing formerly incarcerated persons from registering to vote. March 2006.
Should felons be allowed to vote? This site presents in a simple, nonpartisan, pro-con format, responses to the core question "Should felons be allowed to vote?"
State-Level Estimates of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 2010
By Christopher Uggen and Sarah Shannon of the University of Minnesota, and Jeff Manza of New York University. The Sentencing Project. July 2012. Provides comprehensive estimates of the extent of disenfranchisement in all 50 states.
The report documents that a record 5.85 million people are disenfranchised as a result of a felony conviction and will not be able to vote in the November elections. In addition, findings include:
• The number of disenfranchised persons has increased dramatically along with the rise in criminal justice populations in recent decades, rising from an estimated 1.17 million in 1976 to 5.85 million today
• Of the total disenfranchised population, about 45% -- 2.6 million people – have completed their sentences, but reside in one of the 11 states that disenfranchise people post-sentence
• 1 of every 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, and in three states -- Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia – the figure is one in five.
A Study of Felon and Misdemeanant Voter Participation in North Carolina
Analyzes the effects of the growing number
of felony convictions in the United States (more than one
million per year) on political participation by studying
the impact of convictions on voter registration and
turnout in North Carolina.
The study also proposes a model of how crime policies
affect participation that encompasses the effects of legal
disenfranchisement along with other mechanisms which may
suppress participation. Burch finds that before their
convictions, people with felony convictions had lower
registration and turnout rates than people who had never
been convicted but that felony convictions further depress
registration and turnout rates. The Sentencing Project
Violations of Article 25: Voting Rights
A 2006 report by The Sentencing
Project to the United Nations' Human Rights
Committee regarding the United States' compliance with
dictates specified in the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Comprehensive Immigration Reform and America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009
Border security, conditions of detention, due process, repeal of 287g, employment verification, visa reform, promotion of family unity, legalization, DREAM Act, farmworkers, integration of new Americans.
Deportation Nation! website is home to an independent investigative reporting project that critically examines the increase in immigration enforcement that targets so-called "criminal aliens."
Includes “Enforcement Desk” blog- reports, such an update on how this week’s Supreme Court order banning automatic deportation of immigrants for minor drug offenses could impact thousands of of lawful permanent residents who were mislabeled as aggravated felons. Library includes data from ICE that points to a key flaw already identified with a rapidly expanding enforcement program called Secure Communities.
Deportation Nation: A Timeline Of Immigrant Criminalization (1783-2010)
An interactive timeline and explore how the U.S. immigration system became focused on enforcement. It starts with the Founding Fathers, and ends with a record number of deportations under the Obama Administration. Context is key to understanding the "deportation delirium" in America, and this tool exposes trends in immigration attitudes and legislation, pivotal legal cases, and enforcement strategies. This interactive media feature is a first of its kind resource on immigrant criminalization. The timeline features videos, photos, documents, and useful links. It also has exclusive video interviews with immigration experts Daniel Kanstroom and Donald Kerwin
Expose and Close, One Year Later: The Absence of Accountability in Immigration Detention
The report highlights the appalling conditions in ten of the worst immigration detention centers in the country. Expose and Close: One Year Later documents the current state of the immigration detention system which continues to be plagued by deaths and suicides, subpar medical and mental health care, inedible food, and arbitrary restrictions on visitation and access to legal resources. Detention Watch. November 2013.
For-Profit Family Detention: Meet the Private Prison Corporations Making Millions by Locking Up Refugee Families
Like more than half of the immigrant detention beds in the U.S., the Karnes County detention center is operated by a for-profit, private prison company - the GEO Group (GEO). GEO has a long rap sheet of abuse, neglect, and misconduct inside its facilities. This report will scrutinize GEO's dismal track record with operation of facilities holding immigrants, as well as its dreadful past history of failing to provide vulnerable children and youths with a safe and humane custodial environment. We will detail how GEO and its primary competitor CCA hire the best lobbyists money can buy to pressure members of Congress and staff in federal agencies to keep the contracts coming, despite their well-documented human rights violations and operational fiascos.
Guilty by Immigration Status
By the Human Rights Immigrant Community Action Network (October 2009).
This report details how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
has, over the last eight years, created an "immigration control
regime" in which it is promoting the criminalization of immigration
status as a means of detaining and deporting individuals for often
minor offenses. With the detention of immigrants taking place in
record numbers and the militarization of the U.S. border on the
rise, the report also describes how DHS and other police, public
officials, and agencies, routinely trumped civil rights and
constitutional protections in order to question, detain, and/or jail
individuals based solely on their perceived or actual immigration
status. To access the report:
The Influence of the Private Prison Industry in Immigration Detention
Detention Watch. May 2011. Companies that run prisons for profit have boosted lobbying efforts in the past decade and enjoy growing influence over the U.S. immigration detention system, the Detention Watch Network says in a new report. Three of the five private corporations that hold contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and for which data on political lobbying is available invested $20.43 million in such efforts between 1999 and 2009. The largest for-profit prison company in the United States, Corrections Corporation of America, spent by far the most (a little more than $18 million), while GEO Group Inc. spent $2.06 million.
Jails and Jumpsuits: Transforming the U.S. Immigration Detention System - A Two-Year Review
By Ruthie Epstein, Human Rights First, October 2011. The overwhelming majority of ICE's nearly 400,000 detainees are still held in jails, prisons, or prison-like facilities—at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of more than $2 billion a year.
Local Democracy on ICE: Why State and Local Governments Have No Business in Federal Immigration Law Enforcement
New Report from Justice Strategies (Feb 2009). Democracy on ICE 287(g) is a tiny provision in federal immigration law that allows Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take local police away from their mission of fighting crime, and pull them into the murky territory of targeting immigrants for arrest without suspicion of crime. ICE described the 287(g) program as a public safety measure to target "criminal illegal aliens," but its largest impact has been on law-abiding immigrant communities. Rather than focusing on serious crime, police resources are spent targeting day-laborers, corn-vendors and people with broken tail-lights. This report details findings from a year-long investigation of 287(g) by Justice Strategies, and recommends that the ICE program be terminated.
Privately Operated Federal Prisons for Immigrants: Expensive. Unsafe. Unnecessary.
Justice Strategies. September 2012
Presented before a House of Representatives briefing sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado on September 13, 2012, Privately Operated Federal Prisons for Immigrants: Expensive, Unsafe, Unnecessary chronicles the May 2012 Adams County Correctional Center uprising in Natchez, Mississippi, a private for-profit facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America, under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The report details some of the tragic personal consequences for Juan Villanueva, his family, and others caught in the midst of the horrific conditions at the facility, leading to the insurrection. The report weaves into this narrative a look at the rise and fall of the private prison industry, and its resurrection through the benefit of federal contracts to detain and imprison undocumented immigrants, in an atmosphere of moral panic after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Restoring Integrity to the Immigration System
By Tom Barry. Americas Program Policy Report. May 2009.
A comprehensive essay on immigrant "crimmigration."
[Excerpt]: Mass Incarceration for Immigrants: The immigrant crackdown and the accompanying "crimmigration" of immigration law have led to the mass incarceration of immigrants. Throughout the country, private prison firms are hurriedly constructing new immigrant prisons for the immigrant detainees and prisoners of ICE, USMS, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). At a time when the U.S. criminal justice system is coming under new public and congressional scrutiny because of its high costs and high rates of incarceration, the federal government (in close collaboration with local governments and the private prison industry) is imprisoning unprecedented numbers of illegal and legal immigrants.
Where is the Fire? Immigrants and Crime in California
By Barry Krisberg at Berkeley Law School addresses whether there is an association between immigration and crime. The report is timely in light of Arizona’s SB 1070 legislation, which targets noncitizens under the premise that they are responsible for increasing crime, and suggests that states need to enforce immigration laws more aggressively.
Data from the Department of Finance and the Department of Justice reveal that from 1991-2008, 3.6 million foreign-born persons migrated to California, yet there was a dramatic decline in crimes reported to the police. Violent crime declined by 55% and property crime declined by 29% over the 18-year period. Krisberg cautions that despite the evidence showing a declining crime rate during a period when foreign-born immigration was increasing, the report does not suggest that the increase in immigration is responsible for the falling crime rates.
Adoration of the Question: Reflections on the Failure to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System
Examining circumstances that continue to influence the juvenile justice system and outlining the early system's approach towards youth of color, DMC (Disproportionate Minority Confinement) and its perceived causes. The publications analyzes the well-intentioned federal mandates that have largely failed to reduce entrenched disparities in the system over the 20 years since Congress first mandated that states "address" DMC. The Burns Institute, December 2008.
Against All Odds: Prison Conditions for Youth Offenders Serving Life without Parole Sentences in the United States
January 3, 2012. Summary: The penalty [of life without parole] forswears altogether the rehabilitative ideal...For juvenile offenders, who are most in need of and receptive to rehabilitation, the absence of rehabilitative opportunities or treatment makes the disproportionality of the sentence all the more
evident. —Graham v. Florida, United States Supreme Court, 2010 (130 S. Ct. 2011, 2030 (2010))
Approximately 2,570 youth offenders are currently sentenced to die in prison in the United States—held without the possibility of parole for crimes committed while they were children. Most have been convicted of homicide offenses. Many of the crimes carried the ultimate price for victims and the perpetrators should be held accountable. The loss and suffering their victims have endured, however, does not lessen the need for society to hold youth accountable in a manner appropriate to their age and capacity for growth and change.
Youth offenders sentenced to life without parole enter prison while they are still growing up and deserve an opportunity to change. Brain science shows that youth are different from adults, their neurological systems still developing. Human rights law mandates that youth offenders be treated differently from adults and, to our knowledge, not a single youth offender is serving this sentence anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, federal and state legislators in the United States continue to turn their backs on the science and remain out of step with practice elsewhere, forcing youth offenders serving life without parole to forfeit whatever their future might have held in store for them.
This report—drawing on in-person interviews and correspondence with more than 500 youth offenders serving life without parole sentences in 11 states—describes the conditions that define the beginning, middle, and end of the lives of such youth offenders. In the different ways detailed here, those conditions can and often do constitute serious human rights violations.
Youth offenders—persons convicted of crimes committed while they were below the age of 18—enter adult jails and prisons while still children or, depending on how long their trials and court proceedings last, as the youngest of adults. Our research has found that youth offenders are among the inmates most susceptible to physical and sexual assault during their incarceration. Many are placed in isolated segregation to protect them or to punish them, some spending years without any but the most fleeting human contact. Because of their sentence, youth offenders serving life without parole face the additional burden of being classified in ways that deprive them of meaningful opportunities while in prison: many are denied access to educational and vocational programs available to other inmates. Finally, facing violence, stultifying conditions, and the prospect of lifelong separation from family and friends, many youth offenders experience depression and intense loneliness. Failed by prison mental health services, many contemplate and attempt suicide; some succeed.
Teens and young adults have developmental needs that must be met in order in order for them to fully mature into adulthood. For a youth offender in the middle of this essential developmental phase, denial of these opportunities for growth is devastating. Systematic failure to provide such opportunities and widespread violence and abuse in prison turns a life without parole sentence into a punishment of excessive cruelty. Despite this cruelty, many youth offenders serving life without parole persevere in their struggles to obtain rehabilitative opportunities and do, in fact, find ways to mature into adults capable of contributing to society if ever given the chance.
For years, Human Rights Watch has been calling for the abolition of juvenile life without parole sentences in the United States. In 2012 the US Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the sentence for homicide offenses. We believe that even in homicide cases the sentence is cruel and unusual, disproportionate, and violates international law. As this report shows, the many collateral consequences of prison conditions for youth offenders further stack the deck—making a life of humanity and dignity possible only against all odds.
Alternatives to the Secure Detention and Confinement of Juvenile Offenders
Explores efforts underway in many states and counties
to provide alternative community-based supervision for
juveniles involved in the justice system. Many
jurisdictions are struggling with crowding in juvenile
detention facilities, yet recent data demonstrate that
up to one-third of juveniles populations are
potentially low-risk offenders detained for technical
parole violations. The report, sponsored by the US
Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs,
surveys programs in use from San Fransisco to Baltimore
which identify low-risk juveniles and divert them from
traditional detention facilities. These alternatives --
including intensive supervision, electronic monitoring,
diversion, skills training and residential programs --
often programs prove more cost-effective and result in
lower recidivism than incarceration. October 2005.
America's Invisible Children: Latino Youth and the Failure of Justice
National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Campaign for Youth Justice. May 2009.
On any given day, close to 18,000 Latino youth are incarcerated in America. The majority of these youth are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. Most Latino youth are held in juvenile detention facilities (41%) and juvenile long-term secure facilities (34%). However, one out of every four (24%) incarcerated Latino children is held in an adult prison or jail even though youth in adult facilities are in significant danger of suicide and rape.
Latino youth are overrepresented in the U.S. justice system and receive harsher treatment than white youth. In order of rising disparities, Latino youth are 4% more likely than white youth to be petitioned, 16% more likely than white youth to be adjudicated delinquent, 28% more likely than white youth to be detained, 41% more likely than white youth to receive an out-of-home placement, 43% more likely than white youth to be waived to the adult system, and 40% more likely to be admitted to adult prison. States with the highest levels of disparity of Latino youth in adult prison (rates over 5 times that for white youth) were California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Nine out of ten (90%) Latino youth ages 10 to 17 live in states that permit pre-trial detention in adult jails for youth prosecuted in the adult system. According to a study of 40 large urban jurisdictions, Latino youth prosecuted in the adult system are routinely incarcerated in adult jails. Overall, a higher proportion of white youth are released pretrial (60%) than any other racial or ethnic categories. Most (54%) of Latino youth prosecuted in the adult system were detained pretrial; of the Latino youth detained pretrial, 72% were held in adult jails.
The National Council of La Raza is the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., working to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.
Amici Curiae in support of Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida.
On Nov. 9, the Supreme Court will hold oral argument in Sullivan vs. Florida and Graham vs. Florida, two cases that will determine whether it is constitutional to sentence a teenager to life in prison without parole for a crime that did not involve the taking of a life.
Petitioners in amici curiae include former "juvenile offenders including Former Senator Alan Simpson, Charles Dutton, R.Dwayne Betts, Ishmael Beah and others.
Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?
Authors: Daniel Losen, Cheri Hodson, Michael A. Keith II, Katrina Morrison, Shakti Belway
February 23, 2015. The Civil Rights Project. The main body of this report documents gross disparities in the use of out-of-school suspension experienced by students with disabilities and those from historically disadvantaged racial, ethnic, and gender subgroups. The egregious disparities revealed in the pages that follow transform concerns about educational policy that allows frequent disciplinary removal into a profound matter of civil rights and social justice. This implicates the potentially unlawful denial of educational opportunity and resultant disparate impact on students in numerous districts across the country.
Arrested Futures: The Criminalization of School Discipline in Massachusetts' Three Largest School Districts
May 2, 2012, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Massachusetts, Citizens for Juvenile Justice
By Robin L. Dahlberg
From the Executive Summary:
On October 23, 2007, a 14-year-old boy at the Kennedy Middle School in Springfield, Massachusetts, was arrested after he refused to walk with a teacher to her office and instead returned to his classroom. According to the police report, he yelled at the teacher, bounced a basketball in a school hallway, failed to respond to a police officer’s request to go with the teacher and slammed his classroom door shut. He was subsequently taken into police custody, handcuffed, transported to the police station and charged with "disturbing a lawful assembly."
This incident illustrates a matter of growing concern to educators, parents and advocates: the extent to which the permanent on-site presence of police officers in public schools results in the criminalization of disruptive behavior. While other research has focused on zero-tolerance policies and the overuse of out-of-school suspension and expulsion as significant factors in feeding the "School-to-Prison Pipeline," this report focuses on the additional problem of arrest, in particular the use of arrest to address behavior that would likely be handled in the school by school staff if not for the presence of on-site officers.
While all three districts appear to overuse "public order" offenses as a justification for arrests, Springfield had significantly more such arrests than Boston or Worcester, as well as a much higher overall arrest rate than either of the other two districts. Although the number of public order arrests fell during the three years covered by our study, they fell the least in Springfield and remain unacceptably high.
While there are undoubtedly many reasons why there are more public order arrests in Springfield than in Boston or Worcester, it appears that the manner in which Springfield deploys police officers in its public schools is a contributing factor. Springfield is the only district that has armed, uniformed police officers from the local police department stationed in selected schools for the entire duration of the school day. These officers report to the Chief of the Springfield Police Department, not the Springfield school district. Although Boston has officers stationed in selected schools, these officers are employed by the Boston Public Schools, are answerable to the Public Schools’ superintendent, and are unarmed. Worcester does not have any officers with arresting authority permanently stationed in its schools.
Youth with behavioral and learning disabilities were disproportionately affected by the policing practices in Boston and Springfield. The schools with the highest rates of arrest (arrests per 1000 students) in these districts were schools for students with diagnosed learning and behavioral disabilities, raising serious questions about the manner in which these schools are administered.
In all three districts, children as young as 11 or 12 were subject to arrest, often as the result of childish outbursts. In one case, an upset 11-year old was charged with assault and battery on a public employee, disorderly conduct, and disturbing a lawful assembly after he left his classroom, ran outside the school building, and threw a snowball at a teacher.
CRINMAIL 805 - Special Edition on Children in Conflict with the Law
10 August 2006. Contents: GUIDE: International Norms and Standards for Juvenile Justice; FACTS AND FIGURES: Children in the Criminal Justice System Around the World [fact sheet]; SOUTH AFRICA: Justice System Grapples to Deal with Children [news]; GOOD PRACTICE: Working with Children in Conflict with the Law; TURKEY: Children May Be Tried Under New Anti-Terror Law [news]; JUVENILE JUSTICE INDICATORS: Fifteen Indicators Developed to Increase Visibility and Protection for Children in Conflict with the Law; RESOURCES: Publications and Recommended Websites; EUROPE: Second International Conference on Juvenile Justice - A Frameworkfor Integration [conference]
California Department of Corrections' New 'Plan' for Juvenile Justice
The plan, however, was criticized by some juvenile justice advocacy groups and a top
legislative critic of the state's youth prison system who contend the proposed
reforms don't go far enough. "What we need is a detailed vision for moving this
department philosophically toward education and rehabilitation," said state Sen.
Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, "not just incarceration of youth." The reforms
would be implemented through at least the next five years, depending on funding,
and state officials contend they will lower recidivism rates, provide safer facilities
and better prepare youths to integrate into society. Lenore Anderson, director
of the activist group Books Not Bars in Oakland, had hoped the department would
close some facilities. The 2-year-old organization founded by San Francisco's
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights has long been critical of the youth authority. "Any
plan that keeps abusive youth prisons run by prison guards open is a set-up for
failure," Anderson said. "The solutions have been obvious for a long time, and
we're disappointed that it doesn't call for closing any facilities." Under the
reforms, none of the current facilities are slated to be closed.
Capital City Correction
DC Lawyers for Youth and the Campaign for Youth Justice (May 2014). Advocates Want D.C. To End Pretrial Holding Of Minors In Adult Jails- In 2012, 59 percent of the 10,016 days spent by youths in Department of Corrections facilities were before a trial."541 individual youth were held in adult facilities with one unit designated for juveniles." All 541 minors — who were 98 percent male and 97 percent black — were held this way as a result of direct file, meaning federal prosecutors charge the case in the adult system without judicial review."
Catholic Bishops of the South: "Suffer the Little Children..." Juvenile Justice in the South
Part of a series of pastoral statements by Catholic Bishops of the South on the Criminal Justice process.
Common Ground: Lessons learned from five states that reduced juvenile confinement by more than half.
Justice Policy Institute. March 2013. Shed light on the pronounced trend toward reduced confinement of youth nationwide. Through a variety of methods, the reports find, Connecticut, Arizona, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Tennessee all reduced youth confinement by more than 50% between 2001 and 2010, with no resulting uptick in juvenile crime.
Conditions of Confinement: Findings From the Survey of Youth in Residential Placement
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), May 2010.
The Survey of Youth in Residential Placement reviews its background, describes its design and methodology, discusses its strengths and limitations, and summarizes the questions it answers about the population of youth in custody. This survey is unique in that it is the only current national survey to obtain information about youth in custody by asking questions of the youth themselves.
The Consequences Aren't Minor: The Impact of Trying Youth as Adults and Strategies for Reform
Presents research, statuary analysis, and case studies to highlight the problems with the policies and practices that treat young people as adults in the justice system. The study examines the laws and data in seven key states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. An estimated two hundred thousand youth end up in the adult system each year, and 40 states allow or require the jailing of youth in adult facilities before they ever go to trial. About the Campaign for Youth Justice: The Campaign for Youth Justice (C4YJ) is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system. Learn more at http://campaign4youthjustice.org.
The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School: Jailing and Joblessness of High School Drop Outs and the High Cost to Taxpayers
By Andrew Sum, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University. October 2009.
"The report puts the collective cost to the nation over the working life of each high school dropout at $292,000. Mr. Sum said that figure took into account lost tax revenues, since dropouts earn less and therefore pay less in taxes than high school graduates. It also includes the costs of providing food stamps and other aid to dropouts and of incarcerating those who turn to crime."
"The picture is even bleaker for African-Americans, with nearly one in four young black male dropouts incarcerated or otherwise institutionalized on an average day, the study said. That compares with about one in 14 young, male, white, Asian or Hispanic dropouts." (NY Times)
Cost-Effective Youth Corrections: Rationalizing the fiscal architecture of juvenile justice systems
Summary: In most states, juvenile delinquency is handled at the county-level, with youth
being arrested by local police and processed in local courts. If they are adjudicated
delinquent and sentenced to options such as drug treatment, mental health counseling,
or community service, then the county must pay to provide these services. However,
if youth are sentenced to state secure confinement, they are sometimes sent to
there at little cost to the county. In Cost-Effective Youth Corrections: Rationalizing
the Fiscal Architecture of Juvenile Justice Systems, the Justice Policy Institute
profiles several states that have altered the fiscal architecture of their juvenile
justice systems to reduce the inefficient, ineffective and sometimes damaging
affect of fiscal incentives that make it cheaper to send youth to state secure
care. Pennsylvania, California, Wisconsin, Ohio and Illinois have demonstrated
that, by rethinking how they fund their juvenile justice systems, states and localities
can succeed in keeping more youth at home, reduce the number of youth incarcerated,
and promote better outcomes for young people. March 2006.
The Costs of Confinement: Why Good Juvenile Justice Policies Make Good Fiscal Sense
States spend about $5.7 billion each year imprisoning youth, even though the majority are held for nonviolent offenses. The brief concludes that most youth could be managed safely in the community through alternatives that cost substantially less than incarceration and could lower recidivism by up to 22 percent. These alternatives are also more cost-effective in reducing crime than incarceration, yielding up to $13 in benefits for every dollar spent. Justice Policy Institute: May 2009
Crime Rates and Youth Incarceration in Texas and California Compared: Public Safety or Public Waste?
By Mike Males, PhD, Christina Stahlkopf, PhD, and Daniel Macallair, MPA. May 2007. Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in California. A look at juvenile crime and incarceration in Texas and California. Over the last decade, both states have seen a nearly identical drop in youth crime (as measured by arrest rates). Where California and Texas differ is their incarceration policy the last 10 years: From 1995 to 2006, Texas increased the number of youth that were incarcerated under the age of 18 by 48%. This was done through harsh sentencing practices that targeted non-violent, property and drug offenders. In contrast, during the same period, California drastically reduced the total number of juveniles incarcerated in youth prisons by 75% —an unprecedented decline—by imprisoning only the most violent offender.
Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13 and 14 Year Old Children In to Die in Prison
Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, AL. November 2007. American prisons are home to 73 inmates locked up for life for crimes they committed when they were 13 or 14. Bump that age limit up three years and we have 2,225 prisoners locked up for the rest of their lives for crimes they committed when they were 17 or younger.
Article 10 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, in part, "Accused juvenile persons shall be separated from adults and brought as speedily as possible for adjudication," and, "The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation. Juvenile offenders shall be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status."
The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities
Rather than promoting public safety, detention - the
pretrial "jailing" of youth not yet found delinquent - may
contribute to future offenses. Studies from around the
country show that incarcerated youth have higher
recidivism rates than youth supervised in other kinds of
Data Points Part I: Who does the Massachusetts juvenile justice system serve?
December 2012. CfJJ continues its second year of Data∙Points publication, a report compiling the most current data from the juvenile justice in Massachusetts to support an informed dialogue among policymakers and the public about the state of our juvenile justice system - who it serves, where it is functioning best, and where it needs to improve. This year, Data∙Points will be released in a series. Part I, Who does the Massachusetts juvenile justice system serve?, provides a snapshot of the youth who come into contact with this system.
Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools
Justice Policy Institute, November 2011.
The report compiles information and data showing that school resource officers needlessly drive up arrests for behavior issues that can, and should, be dealt with inside the school. For example, in Birmingham, Alabama, 96 percent of juvenile court referrals for students were for misdemeanor offenses or minor violations. A study of sample schools with and without SROs found that schools with an SRO had nearly five times the rate of arrests for disorderly conduct as schools without an SRO.
Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track
(2005). This report from the Advancement Project examines how zero tolerance policies in schools have profound impacts on childrens' future and involvement with the juvenile justice system. Also - visit the new quot;Schoolhouse to Jailhouse" website: http://www.stopschoolstojails.org.
Effective Investments in Public Safety
Educational attainment, in itself, does not predetermine whether an individual will engage in crime. However, there is evidence that suggests that education and graduation rates may relate to crime rates, and this new research comes at a time when education programs are receiving less and less funding, while more money is being spent on incarceration—a public safety policy that has not been proven to lower crime rates. Data from numerous sources, including the Bureau of Justice Statistics, show that those people with the least education are often the ones who end up committing crimes and being imprisoned. Funding for more education services rather than corrections would have a significant positive effect on public safety. State by state information included in this document from the Justice Policy Institute, 2006.
Effects on Violence of Laws and Policies Facilitating the Transfer of Youth from the Juvenile to the Adult System
A study published by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), led by a Task Force on
Community Preventive Services, released November 29, 2007 finds that
transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system significantly
increases crime and rather than improve public safety, produces the opposite
effect. Youth who have been previously tried as adults are, on average, 34%
more likely to commit crimes than youth retained in the juvenile justice
After an extensive review of published scientific evidence, the Task Force
on Community Preventive Services recommended "Against laws or policies
facilitating the transfer of juveniles from the juvenile to the adult
The CDC published the Task Force findings in their latest Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report - Reports and Recommendations. The study found that
violent outcomes associated with the transfer of youth to the adult system
an increase in pretrial violence,
victimization of juveniles in adult facilities, and
elevated suicide rates for juveniles incarcerated in adult facilities.
Failed Policies, Forfeited Futures: A Nationwide Scorecard on Juvenile Records
The first-ever comprehensive evaluation of state policies that govern the confidentiality and expungement of juvenile court and law enforcement records. No state earned the maximum five-star rating, with the national average coming in at three stars out of the possible five stars. Juvenile Law Center. November 2014.
FairTest testimony by Monty Neill
FairTest testimony by Monty Neill on how high-stakes connects testing with punitive discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline, to the subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on ending the school-to-prison pipeline.
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.
Gang Wars: The Failure of Enforcement Tactics and the Need for Effective Public Safety Strategies
Written by Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis, undertakes an extensive review of the research literature on gangs to clarify persistent misconceptions and examine the effectiveness of common gang control strategies. According to the report, in cities like Los Angeles where gang activity is most prevalent, more police, more prisons and more punitive measures haven't stopped the cycle of gang violence. Most surprising are conclusions that gangs are responsible for a relatively small share of crime; gang activity has not grown in the U.S.; whites make up a large- if largely invisible- proportion of gang members; most gang-involved youth quit before reaching adulthood; and heavy-handed suppression tactics can increase gang cohesion while failing to reduce violence. Justice Policy Institute, July 2007.
A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools
School-to-Prison Pipeline Study, 12/11/2013. By
Jacob Kang-Brown, Jennifer Trone, Jennifer Fratello, and Tarika Daftary-Kapur.
Zero tolerance discipline policies that mandate suspension or expulsion of students for misconduct have gained tremendous momentum over the past 25 years while also inviting deep controversy. With A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice looks at existing research about whether zero tolerance discipline policies make schools more orderly or safe, if out-of-school suspension or expulsion leads to greater involvement in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, and what effect these policies can have on a young person’s future. It concludes that, a generation after the rise of these policies and practices, neither schools nor young people have benefited. Fortunately, as described in the report, promising alternatives to zero tolerance can safely keep young people where they belong—in school.
Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States
By Human Rights Watch and the ACLU (October 2012), is based on research in both US jails and prisons in five states – Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania – and correspondence with young people in 14 others. The isolation of solitary confinement causes anguish, provokes serious mental and physical health problems, and works against rehabilitation for teenagers, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU found.
Healing Invisible Wounds: Why Investing in Trauma-Informed Care for Children Makes Sense
Justice Policy Institute, July 2010. Examines the relationship between childhood trauma and justice system involvement for youth. Of the more than 93,000 children that are currently incarcerated in the United States, between 75 and 93 percent have experienced at least one traumatic experience, including sexual abuse, war, community violence, neglect and maltreatment.
Research points to long term effects of childhood trauma, including emotional problems and negative impacts on youth brain development. The brief notes that while holding youth who engage in delinquent behavior accountable is important, it is critical that trauma exposure be considered in placement decisions, as youth who receive treatment in the community have better outcomes than those placed in correctional facilities.
I Got Arrested! Now What?: A Guide to the Juvenile Justice System
The Youth Justice Board, is an after-school youth development program overseen by the Center for Court Innovation, a public/private partnership that seeks to promote public confidence in justice. In June, 2010, the Board released a new comic book-inspired resource for youths. The comic will be given out to young people who were recently arrested during probation intake, the first step in the juvenile justice process. Board members produced the comic through a year-long collaboration with the New York City Department of Probation, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) and designer Danica Novgodoroff.
Jailing Juveniles: The Dangers of Incarcerating Youth in Adult Jails in America
The Campaign for Youth Justice. The report provides a summary of the risks that youth face when incarcerated in adult jails, facts and figures about how many youth are incarcerated in jails nationwide, and a review of the limited federal and state laws protecting youth in jails. Released: November 15, 2007.
A Just Alternative to Sentencing Youth to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole
Issue brief co-authored by Beth Colgan, Managing Attorney of the Institutions Project at Columbia Legal Services, and Jody Kent, Director of the National Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. Published March 2010 by the American Constitution Society. The issue brief looks closely at our country's deeply flawed practice of sentencing youth to die in prison. It highlights how this United States practice disregards scientific research, is implemented unfairly, and undermines America's moral standing.
Juvenile Injustice website
In late 2009, Mariame Kaba of Project NIA and Lisa Lee of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum decided to partner on a project to create a series of zines about juvenile justice issues. The zine series was developed in conjunction with an exhibition called "Unfinished Business - Juvenile Justice," a community-curated show that links the founding of the nation's first juvenile court in 1899 with the pressing contemporary issues of juvenile justice and prison reform.
Four juvenile justice zines were created by teaching artists, Rachel Marie-Crane Williams and Elgin-Bokari T. Smith; and youth at the Chicago Freedom School and the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. The zines feature the voices of those affected by the criminal legal system and also tackle the issues that affect all of our communities: the
History of Juvenile Justice in Illinois,
Girls in the System,
Youth Stories (of the Incarcerated), and the
School-to-Prison Pipeline (links are to the actual PDFs).
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana Report: Teenagers Held in Detention During Hurricane Katrina Endured Horrific Conditions
About 150 teenagers held in detention during Hurricane Katrina endured horrific conditions in the storm's aftermath, including standing for hours in filthy floodwater, having nothing to eat and drink for three to five days, and being forced to drink sewage-filled water as a result, according to "Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina". The report was prepared by the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, a group that has long advocated changes in the state's troubled juvenile system, and was based on interviews with more than 60 teenagers held at the Orleans Parish Prison during the storm, as well as with prison staff members.
Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 2006 National Report
(NCJ 212906) March 2006 Report, 260 page(s) Snyder, H., and Sickmund, M. Presents comprehensive information on juvenile crime, violence, and victimization and on the juvenile justice system.
This OJJDP National Report brings together the latest available statistics from a variety of sources and includes numerous tables, graphs, and maps, accompanied
by analyses in clear, nontechnical language.
Juvenile Transfer Laws: An Effective Deterrent to Delinquency?
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
(OJJDP), U.S. Department of Justice. August 2008
Research by the OJJDP found that transfer laws have
little or no deterrent effect on juvenile crime. The
report, also mentions that recidivism rates have
increased, because of the transfer laws. Key findings
from OJJDP report: Laws to make it easier to transfer
youth to the adult criminal court system have little or
no general deterrent effect, meaning they do not
prevent youth from engaging in criminal behavior; Youth
transferred to the adult system are more likely to be
rearrested and to reoffend than youth who committed
similar crimes, but were retained in the juvenile
justice system; Higher recidivism rates are due to a
number of factors including the youth's:
- Stigmatization/negative labeling effects of being labeled as a convicted felon;
- Sense of resentment and injustice about being tried as an adult;
- Learning of criminal mores and behavior while incarcerated with adults;
- Decreased access to rehabilitation and family support in the adult system;
- Decreased employment and community integration opportunities due to a felony conviction.
Keeping Kids in School and out of Court: Report and Recommendations
May 2013. NYC School-Justice Partnership Taskforce created by Judge Judith Kaye. The School-to-Prison Pipeline in NYC is a result of zero-tolerance policies implemented in schools, which increase the number of suspensions and school-related court involvement among students for minor offenses. NYC minority students had the highest rate of being suspended and arrested for school-based incidents than their white students. For arrests, black students were shockingly 14 times more likely to be arrested than white students despite the similarity in incidents. Findings from the Task Force indicated that expelling, arresting, and suspending these youth does not make schools safer; instead, it significantly impacts the lives of thousands of students. Students that are suspended and arrested are much more likely to have negative outcomes over the life course because of early on exposure to the justice system. Report includes emerging reforms in school districts around the country. Recommendations for change in NY.
Know Your Rights: A Guide to Young People's Rights in Juvenile Delinquency Court
(May 2007) The booklet is designed to teach young people their basic constitutional rights as it applies to the law. According to the Know Your Rights booklet in 2003: 2.2 million arrests were made of persons under the age of 18; 136,500 of these arrests were for violating curfew and loitering laws; Black youth account for 27% of all juvenile arrests, even though they only make up 16% of the youth population; and Girls account for 29% of all juvenile arrests, which represents a 45% increase in arrests of girls over a period of approximately twenty years Additionally, the booklet cites in recent years, reports of abuse and mistreatment in youth correctional facilities have increased. For example, in 2004 there were 2,821 reports of sexual violence against youth and 26 deaths of youth in facilities.
The Lives of Juvenile Lifers
Ashley Nellis, The Sentencing Project, Feb 2012. A comprehensive look that offers new perspectives on people who committed crimes before the age of 18, and some as young as 13. More than 2,500 people are currently serving these sentences in the United States.
The Lives of Juvenile Lifers survey draws a portrait of the severe disadvantage experienced by those serving life sentences without parole:
- Juvenile lifers, especially girls, suffered high rates of abuse---nearly half (46.9%) of lifers experienced physical abuse, including 79.5 % among girls.
- Juvenile lifers were exposed to high levels of violence in their homes (79%) and their communities (54.1%).
- African American youth constitute 43.4% of life without parole sentences for a murder with a white victim, nearly twice the rate at which they are arrested for such crimes, 23.7%.
Media Images of (Youthful) Offenders: A Comparative Analysis of Race, Class, Gender in Germany and the United States of America
Comparing media representations of (youthful) offenders
in Germany and the U.S., this paper looks at the
lessons of electoral campaigns for penal abolitionists.
In a recent election campaign in Germany, a
"law-and-order" discourse by a conservative party seems
to have backfired, whereas in the US such "homeland
security" discourse of fear usually brings about
positive election results. Election campaigns in the
Global North often use media images of "super-predator"
youth to shore up a moral panic among voters who may
already be concerned about various behavior patterns
attributed to marginalized people such as immigrants,
especially from the Global South, or naturalized people
of color. In the post 9/11 era the deviant Other is a
Muslim, preferably a young male immigrant from the
Middle East who perhaps supplants the stereotype of
angry black male. How do we respond to these
stereotypical representations in advertising campaigns?
No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration
The Annie E. Casey Foundation. October 2011. The report assembles a vast array of evidence to demonstrate that incarcerating kids doesn't work: Youth prisons do not reduce future offending, they waste taxpayer dollars, and they frequently expose youth to dangerous and abusive conditions. The report also shows that many states have substantially reduced their juvenile correctional facility populations in recent years, and it finds that these states have seen no resulting increase in juvenile crime or violence. Finally, the report highlights successful reform efforts from several states and provides recommendations for how states can reduce juvenile incarceration rates and redesign their juvenile correction systems to better serve young people and the public.
No Turning Back: Promising Approaches to Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities Affecting Youth of Color in the Justice System
The Building Blocks for Youth initiative has released its final report. The report discusses the Casey Foundation's
Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, the W. Haywood Burns Institute, and
campaigns in 12 cities, counties, and states to reduce disproportionate youth
of color contact within the justice system.
Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School
By Daniel J. Losen and Jonathan Gillespie, August 2012
The Center for Civil Rights Remedies, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.
"Students with disabilities are almost twice as likely to be suspended from school as nondisabled students, with the highest rates among black children with disabilities.According to a new analysis of Department of Education data, 13 percent of disabled students in kindergarten through 12th grade were suspended during the 2009-10 school year, compared with 7 percent of students without disabilities. Among black children with disabilities, which included those with learning difficulties, the rate was much higher: one out of every four was suspended at least once that school year."
The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted the study of data from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which originally released the raw statistics in March.
Pioneers of Youth Justice Reform: Achieving System Change Using Resolution, Reinvestment, and Realignment Strategies
By Douglas N. Evans, (2012).New York, NY: Research and Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.
In the past three decades, state and local governments implemented a variety of reform strategies to reduce the youth justice system’s reliance on confinement facilities and to serve as many youth as possible in their own homes or at least in their own communities when removal from the home is warranted. The various reform strategies may be conceptualized as relying on three distinct but interrelated mechanisms: resolution, reinvestment, and realignment (Butts and Evans 2011). Resolution refers to the use of managerial authority and administrative directives to influence system change; reinvestment entails the use of financial incentives to encourage system change; and realignment employs organizational and structural modifications to create new systems. This report describes the history and implementation of the most well-known reform initiatives that draw upon one or more of these mechanisms to achieve system change and it considers their impact on juvenile confinement at the state and local level.
Real Impacts: the actual results of Rhode Island's new law that charges 17-year-olds as adults
"Real Impacts: the actual results of RI's new law that charges 17-year-olds as adults" documents what has happened since July, 2007 when the RI legislature adopted this new policy. The report found that the new policy is not only more costly, it unduly punishes juveniles, particularly juveniles from disadvantaged backgrounds and from communities of color. In fact, 17-year-olds of color are 28 times more likely to end up in adult prison than white 17-year-olds. The report recommends that the new long be reversed as soon as possible and that the records of those already affected be retroactively undone. Family Life Center, October 2007.
The Rest of Their Lives Life without Parole for Child Offenders in the United States
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, October 2005. Includes state by state rankings of incarceration-for-life of children.
Risking Their Futures: Why Trying Non-violent 17-year-olds as Adults is Bad Policy for Wisconsin
Wisconsin Council on Children & Families (WCCF), explores the effects and trends of sending this age group through the adult system. WCCF looked at 1,000 17-year-olds brought before adult court between September, 2001 and September, 2007 to examine sentencing patterns, recidivism rates, educational opportunities available during incarceration, and racial components to sentencing. More than half of the group was sentenced to jail or prison, even though nearly 80% of trials were only for misdemeanor charges. Moreover, 70% of these 1000 juveniles sent through adult court were convicted of a new crime during the period studied, equally split between felonies and misdemeanors. This recidivism rate is nearly double that of similar age groups sent through the juvenile system. In addition, racial disparities emerged in the sentencing trends. When compared to Caucasian youth, African-American youth were far more likely to be incarcerated and far less likely to be returned to the community through deferred prosecution, fines, or probation. This trend held true for American Indians and Latinos as well.
A Road Map for Juvenile Justice Reform
2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book essay, "A Road Map for Juvenile Justice Reform" looks at the nearly 100,000 children confined to juvenile facilities on any given night in the United States and what can be done to reduce unnecessary and inappropriate detention and incarceration and increase opportunities for positive youth development and community safety. The essay is released in conjunction with the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book, an incredible resource which gives national and state-by-state profiles of the well-being of America's children through rankings on 10 key measures and information on the economic, health, education, and social conditions of America's children and families.
Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings
Source: The Alliance for Excellent Education.
"America's standard of living and international competitiveness will be
strengthened if its high schools are improved. Research indicates that about
75 percent of America's state prison inmates, almost 59 percent of federal
inmates, and 69 percent of jail inmates did not complete high school.
Additionally, the number of prison inmates without a high school diploma has
increased over time (Harlow, 2003). Reforming the nation's high schools
could potentially increase the number of graduates and, as a result,
significantly reduce the nation's crime-related costs and add billions of
dollars to the economy through the additional wages they would earn.
Increasing the graduation rate and college matriculation of male students by
only 5 percent could lead to combined savings and revenue of almost $8
billion each year."
The School to Prison Pipeline and Criminalizing Youth: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives
By Marsha Weissman in The Link, an online journal of the Child Welfare League, discusses the growing trend to criminalize adolescent behavior and the pathways that lead from school to prison. There are both direct links between school and prison evidenced by the growing presence of police in schools and the increase in numbers of young people arrested in school, and indirect links which are reflected by school suspensions and expulsions. Also highlighted Strategies for Success, a Center for Community Alternatives' program that has been in operation since 2000 and has reduced both suspensions and arrests of students who would otherwise be trapped in the school to prison pipeline.
Something is Wrong: Exploring the Roots of Youth Violence
Project NIA, The Chicago Freedom School and Teachers for Social Justice have partnered along with other volunteers to develop a curriculum guide in order to contribute to the ongoing efforts by young people and their adult allies to analyze the root causes of youth violence and to create local solutions.
Through this curriculum, they want to challenge youth to think about a) the roots of violence in their lives; b) the enforcers and victims of violence; c) the effects of violence on both victims and perpetrators; and d) how violence can ultimately be minimized through systemic changes.
At a time when frustration is running high and many are expressing a sense of powerlessness in the face of pervasive violence, this 350-page curriculum guide is an offering intended to make a positive contribution to the dialogue about violence in the lives of young people. In the words of historian and community activist Barbara Ransby, our goal is to help young people to constructively “channel their righteous rage” towards the actual sources of their oppression.
Sample Units Include:
1. Understanding Oppression
2. Understanding Root Causes (Mikva Challenge)
3. Roots of Heterosexism (Gender Just)
4. Power and Violence
5. Youth Homicide in Chicago
6. Media Violence (Beyondmedia Education)
7. Gangs and Violence: Historical Context & Root Causes
8. Police Violence: Fear & Loathing among Youth of Color
9. American Casino: Economic Violence in the U.S.
10. Exploring the Roots of and Community Responses to Violence: A Youth Action Research Project (All Stars Project of Chicago)
State Trends: Legislative Victories from 2005 to 2010 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System
Campaign for Youth Justice. The first half of the report explains the dangers to youth, public safety, and the overall prosperity of our economy and future generations. The second half of the report examines 27 positive pieces of legislation enacted in 15 states during the last 5 years, as well as highlights active reform efforts underway in four categories.
* Trend 1: Four states (Colorado, Maine, Virginia and Pennsylvania) have passed laws limiting the ability to house youth in adult jails and prisons.
* Trend 2: Three states (Connecticut, Illinois and Mississippi) have expanded their juvenile court jurisdiction so that older youth who previously would be automatically tried as adults are not prosecuted in adult criminal court.
* Trend 3: Ten states (Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Washington) have changed their transfer laws making it more likely that youth will stay in the juvenile justice system.
* Trend 4: Four states (Colorado, Georgia, Texas and Washington) have changed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws to take into account the developmental differences between youth and adults.
Think Before You Plea: Juvenile Collateral Consequences in the United States (A guide to 50 states)
The Juvenile Collateral Consequences Project is an endeavor undertaken by the American Bar Association to document and analyze the significant hardships experienced by youth who have come in contact with the juvenile justice system. These hardships, known as collateral consequences affect youth who have successfully completed a sentence imposed by the court. The hardships include barriers to education, employment, and public benefits.
Until They Die A Natural Death: Youth Sentenced to Life Without Parole In Massachusetts
The report followed a two-year review of most of the cases in which children ages 14, 15, and 16 were tried in adult court and sentenced to life. Massachusetts has one of the harshest laws in the country for sentencing murderers as young as 14 to life in prison without parole, and many of the 57 people serving such mandatory sentences are first-time offenders. African Americans make up 47 percent of the juveniles sentenced to life without parole but account for less than 7 percent of children under 18 in Massachusetts, said the report.The Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts (September 2009)
When I die, that’s when they’ll send me home
Human Rights Watch. March 2012. The state of California has sentenced 301 youth to die in its prisons for crimes they committed under the age of 18.These youth have not been sentenced to death; in 2005 the Supreme Court found the death penalty unconstitutional for juveniles. Instead these young people have been sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives with no opportunity for parole and no chance for release. It is a final, irrevocable judgment. Their crimes were committed when they were teenagers, yet they will die in prison.
Concerns Over Rising Crime in Context
Justice Policy Institute: March 15, 2007. In light of the recent Police Executive Research Forum report decrying an "alarming trend" of increasing violent crime, and the call for more money for law enforcement, JPI put together this factsheet to keep the numbers in context, and to show that while the increase in violent crime is cause for concern, it is not increasing at the alarming rates seen in the early 1990s.
The Impending Crime Wave: Four Dangerous New Trends and How to Stop Them
A Third Way Report by Jim Kessler, Rachel Laser, Michael Earls, and Nikki
Yamashiro. On February 26, 2008, Third Way, a "liberal" think-tank released a paper that warns of a coming wave of crime and offers more than 100 federal,
state, and local policy options to handle the impending problem. The group
also released the findings of a newn ational poll revealing that public
concern over crime is high and growing. Pointing to the findings in the paper, the Governors announced a 21st-century crime-fighting agenda to combat this wave.
In The Impending Crime Wave, Third Way describes the convergence of four new and menacing sociological trends, which, together with the recent federal disengagement from crime-fighting, threaten a new and devastating wave of crime in America. These trends include:
• The Reentry Explosion: A massive group of prisoners are poised to reenter
their communities over the next several years. In the 1980s, 2.5 million
prisoners were released; in this decade, it will be nearly 7 million, with
700,000 in the next year alone.
• The Lengthening Shadow of Illegal Immigration: With more that 12 million
illegal immigrants now in the country, a shadow economy that both serves and
exploits illegal immigrants is large and growing, and a small but violent
minority of illegal immigrants are themselves offenders.
• The Sprawling Parentless Neighborhood of the Internet: Technology, in
particular the explosion of online social networking, is exposing increasing
numbers of young children and teenagers to a surge in sexual predation on
• The Surging Youth Population: Young people commit far more crimes than the
general population, and the demographic bulge in young people, if not
effectively addressed, will account for about 2.5 million more crimes by
Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship
Provides a comprehensive analysis of research conducted on the relationship between incarceration and crime, and concludes that assertions of prison's impact on criminal offending have been overstated. As policymakers continue to struggle with the legacy of a prison population that has been growing steadily for more than three decades, this report suggests an urgent need for the reconsideration of the punitive sentencing and parole policies that currently dominate the criminal justice landscape. The Sentencing Project, November 2005.
Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005
Presents data on prison and jail inmates, collected from National Prisoner Statistics counts and the Census of Jail Inmates 2005. This annual report provides the number of inmates and the overall incarceration rate per 100,000 residents for each State and the Federal system. It offers trends since 1995 and percentage changes in prison populations since midyear and yearend 2004.
Rethinking the Blues: How we police in the U.S. and at what cost
Justice Policy Institute. May 2012. Despite crime rates being at their lowest levels in more than 30 years, the U.S. continues to maintain large and increasingly militarized police units, spending more than $100 billion every year. Police forces have grown from locally-funded public safety initiatives into a federally subsidized jobs program, with a decreasing focus on community policing and growing concerns about racial profiling and “cuffs for cash,” with success measured not by increased safety and well-being but by more arrests.
The report highlights the negative effects of over-policing by detailing how law enforcement efforts contribute to a criminal justice system that disconnects people from their communities, fills prisons and jails, and costs taxpayers billions.
Annual Privatization Report
Annual Privatization Report by the Reason Foundation
("free minds and free markets") includes federal, state
and local update, surface transportation, air
transportation, education, emerging issues such as
State Lottery privatization update, water & wastewater,
telecommunications, land use and environment, and of
Blacks See Growing Values Gap Between Poor and Middle Class; Optimism about Black Progress Declines
Pew Research Center. 91 pages. November 13, 2007. African Americans see a widening gulf between the values of middle class and poor blacks, and nearly four-in-ten say that because of the diversity within their community, blacks can no longer be thought of as a single race. The new nationwide Pew Research Center survey also finds blacks less upbeat about the state of black progress now than at any time since 1983. Looking backward, just one-in-five blacks say things are better for blacks now than they were five years ago. Looking ahead, fewer than half of all blacks (44%) say they think life for blacks will get better in the future, down from the 57% who said so in a 1986 survey. Blacks have much less confidence than whites in the fairness of the criminal justice system. Also, blacks say that anti-black discrimination is commonplace in everyday life; whites disagree.
A 53% majority of African Americans say that blacks who don't get ahead are mainly responsible for their situation, while just three-in-ten say discrimination is mainly to blame. As recently as the mid-1990s, black opinion on this question tilted in the opposite direction, with a majority of African Americans saying then that discrimination is the main reason for a lack of black progress.
By the Numbers: The Public Costs of Teen Childbearing
Documents the public costs of teen childbearing at both
the national and state level. Teen childbearing in the
United States costs taxpayers (federal, state, and
local) at least $9.1 billion, according to a new report
by Saul Hoffman, Ph.D. and published by the National
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Most of the costs
of teen childbearing are associated with negative
consequences for the children of teen mothers,
including increased costs for health care, foster care,
and incarceration. The study includes state by state
fact sheets on cost of teen childbearing.
Katrina Anniversary Report
Co-released by the Women's
Funding Network and the Ms. Foundation for
Women. "Women have become a critical force rebuilding
the Gulf Coast after being disproportionately affected by
Katrina. This report reveals that, while the lens of race
and class were applied to the natural disaster early on,
the gender dimensions of poverty and recovery on the Gulf
Coast have largely been overlooked. The report includes
amazing stories of women survivors, outlines post-disaster
challenges they face, and the actions they've taken as
leaders in the rebuilding process in partnership with
women's organizations and women's foundations."
The Katrina Files
An archive of reports on the hurricane and the aftermath,
is now available at C3 Online, the website of the UCLA-based Center for
Communications and Community. The archive
includes links to print, video and audio content in the following
categories: Coverage Critiques, Community and Independent Media,
Community Activism Research, Journalism and Research Archives
A counter-recruitment comic book by artist Sabrina Jones. It is being emblazoned on paper
bags, to be distributed to delis and bodegas in New York by a mysterious cadre of
activist artists known as "Friends of William Blake." Check it out in this week's "Time Out NY", on the William Blake website, or at the comic book's web page:
New Orleans by the Numbers
By Peter Wagner and Susan Edwards. This article is from the March/April 2006 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine. The city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana were in trouble long before Hurricane
Katrina flooded the city and long before the Federal Emergency Management Agency decided that the director's dinner engagements were more important than the plight of hurricane victims running out of food in the Superdome.
Opportunity Agenda Katrina Anniversary Toolkit
August 29th marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This
toolkit contains a set of tools designed to highlight the vastly unequal
opportunity revealed by Katrina and advance solutions that can expand
opportunity in the Gulf Coast region and beyond.
Segregation map displays the population of every person in the U.S. along racial and ethnic lines.
"How diverse is your neighborhood really? This map by Dustin Cable at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service displays the population distribution of every person in America (as of the 2010 census) along racial and ethnic lines. The map features 308,745,538 dots, each smaller than a single pixel and each representing one person: Caucasians are blue, blacks are green, Hispanics are orange, Asians are red, and other races are brown."
The State of Black America
The annual Urban League Report addresses the
issues central to Black America in the current year. The publication is a barometer
of the conditions, experiences and opinions of Black America. It examines black
progress in education, homeownership, entrepreneurship, health and other areas.
The publication forecasts certain social and political trends and proposes solutions
to the community's and America's most pressing challenges. March 2006.
A System in Crisis
Overburdened long before Katrina, the public mental health network here is
finding it impossible to meet need. By Claudia Feldman.
"For every million people who move here," Burruss says, "between 7 (percent)
and 10 percent have a major mental disorder. And if you add those with
substance-abuse problems, those percentages are even higher. Also consider
that a third of the population of Harris County is uninsured. And factor in
recent cuts in Medicaid and Medicare."