New Research and Papers
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."
Better by Half: The New York City Story of Winning Large-Scale Decarceration while Increasing Public Safety
How New York City Cut Incarceration by 50% While Becoming the Nation’s Safest Large City. By Judith Greene and Vincent Schiraldi. Justice Strategies. (October 2016)
New York: New York City’s sustained and dramatic reductions in incarceration and crime rates point to strategies to safely and significantly cut imprisoned populations in other cities and states. Although the city once struggled with overflowing jail populations and high rates of violent crime, New York City cut its combined jail and prison incarceration rate by 55 percent between 1996-2014, while serious (index) crime fell by 58 percent. By contrast, the national incarceration rate grew by 12 percent during the same time period, and was accompanied by a more modest decrease in serious crime of 42 percent. By 2014, New York City earned the distinction of having the lowest crime rate of the nation’s 20 largest cities, and the second lowest jail incarceration rate. And New York State had become one of three states (along with New Jersey and California) leading the nation in terms of prison population reductions.
Beyond the New Jim Crow
By Mechthild Nagel. Peace Studies Journal. March 2016. This article challenges contemporary critiques of the U.S. prison system and argues instead that we are experiencing a penal system that most resembles the dehumanizing conditions of nineteenth-century slavery. Through revisionist histories and examinations of international trends in penal management, it argues against simplistic reform and instead advocates for excarceration.
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.
Community Cages: Profitizing community corrections and alternatives to incarceration
By Caroline Isaacs, Arizona AFSC. In this report,they examine four different components of community corrections that are being aggressively privatized:
1. Electronic monitoring through the use of GPS ankle monitors and other mobile surveillance technology
2. Day reporting centers for individuals to “check in” and/or participate in rehabilitative programs and services
3. Intermediate sanctions facilities as an alternative to revocation to prison for technical violations of the terms of probation or parole
4. Residential reentry centers, more commonly known as halfway houses.
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."
Correctional Control: Incarceration and Supervision by State
Correctional Control: Incarceration and supervision by state builds off of the Prison Policy Initiative's popular report, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie, to provide the big picture of mass incarceration. The report also includes an interactive chart that ranks each state and D.C. by rate of total correctional control, which includes incarceration, probation, and parole. (May 2016)
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.”
The Economic Burden of Incarceration in the U.S.
(July 2016). Working Paper #CI072016 Michael McLaughlin, MACC, MBA, Washington University in St. Louis;Carrie Pettus-Davis, MSW, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis; Derek Brown, MA, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis; Chris Veeh, MSW, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis; Tanya Renn, Washington University in St. Louis. This study estimates the annual economic burden of incarceration in the United States. While prior research has estimated the cost of crime, no study has calculated the cost of incarceration. The $80 billion spent annual on corrections is frequently cited as the cost of incarceration , but this figure considerably underestimates the true cost of
incarceration by ignoring important social costs. These include costs to incarcerated persons, families, children, and communities.
This study draws on a burgeoning area of scholarship to assign monetary values to twenty-two different cost, which yeild an aggregate burden of one trillion dollars. This approaches 6% of the gross domestic product and dwarfs the amount spent on corrections. For every dollar in corrections costs, incarceration generates an additional ten dollars in social costs. More than hald of the costs are borne by families, children, and community members who have committed no crime. Even if one to exclude the cost of jail, the aggregate burden of incarceration would still exceed $500 million annually.
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.
Felony Murder: An On-Ramp for Extreme Sentencing
Co-authored by Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D., The Sentencing Project. March 2022. The Sentencing Project and Fair and Just Prosecution's extensive analysis of the United States’ fundamentally flawed felony murder laws – a legal landscape that is at odds with the rest of the world. "Felony murder" occurs when a person participates in a felony, such as a robbery, that results in someone’s death. Felony murder laws compel harsh decades-long – or even life – sentences even when the individual charged did not directly cause or intend the loss of life.
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.
Following the Money of Mass Incarceration
By Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy. Prison Policy Initiative, January 25, 2017. The cost of imprisonment — including who benefits and who pays — is a major part of the national discussion around criminal justice policy. But prisons and jails are just one piece of the criminal justice system and the amount of media and policy attention that the various players get is not necessarily proportional to their influence. In this first-of-its-kind report, the authors find that the system of mass incarceration costs the government and families of justice-involved people at least $182 billion every year.
The Geography of Incarceration
A Special Report from the Boston Indicators Project in Partnership with MassINC and the
Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. November 2016. "Between 2009 and 2015, it appears as if incarceration was a reality for almost 50 percent of households in these communities. In other words, nearly every other home is directly affected by incarceration. The residents of Boston neighborhoods who entered the Suffolk County House of Correction and the Nashua Street Jail in 2013 consumed a total of more the 440,000 bed days before their release. At an average cost of $150 per day, this amounts to $66 million for admissions over the one-year period."
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 Heavy Costs of High Bail: Evidence from Judge Randomization
By Arpit Gupta, Christopher Hansman, Ethan Frenchman. August 2016.
Using a large sample of criminal cases in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, we analyze the consequences of the money bail system by exploiting the variation in bail-setting tendencies among randomly assigned bail judges. Our estimates suggest that the assignment of money bail causes a 12% rise in the likelihood of conviction, and a 6-9% rise in recidivism. Our results highlight the importance
of credit constraints in shaping defendant outcomes and point to important fairness considerations in the institutional design of the American money bail system.
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 Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?
By Lauren-Brooke "L.B." Eisen, James Austin Ph.D., James Cullen, Jonathan Frank, Inimai M. Chettiar. The Brennan Center. December 2016. This report is the product of three years of research conducted by one of the nation’s leading criminologists, experienced criminal justice lawyers, and statistical researchers. First, we conducted an in-depth examination of the federal and state criminal codes, as well as the convictions and sentences of the nationwide prison population (1.46 million prisoners serving time for 370 different crime categories) to estimate how many people are currently incarcerated without a sufficient public safety rationale. We find that alternatives to incarceration are more effective and just penalties for many lower-level crimes. We also find that prison sentences can safely be shortened for a discrete set of more serious crimes.
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.
The Human Toll of Jail
A "platform for true stories about and by ordinary people, both those who are or have been caught up in the criminal justice system, and those who work on its front lines."
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.
Loyola University School of Law Law Review Volume 63, Number 3
- Children of Incarcerated Parents: Ending the Cycle of Trauma
Chaseray L. Griffin
- Reinvesting in Louisiana’s Criminal Justice System
Governor John Bel Edwards
- A Father’s Journey Through Louisiana’s Criminal Justice System
- When Are You Coming Home: An Exploratory Essay Confronting the Issues Involving Children with Incarcerated Parents and How to Break the Cycle
- The Unconstitutionality of the Federal Ban on Noncitizen Voting and Congressionally-Imposed Voter Qualifications
Stephen E. Mortellaro
- Mental Health Implications for Children of Incarcerated Parents
Anna T. Smyke, Ph.D, Letia O. Bailey, LCSW, & Charles H. Zeanah, M.D.
- Louisiana’s Addiction to Mass Incarceration By the Numbers
Courtney Harper Turkington
- From Jails to Emergency Shelters: Dismantling Unconstitutional Border Patrol Detention
M. Kate Richardson
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.
Measures for Justice
This is an amazing project. So far the states they have (granular) for in EVERY county are WA, UT, WI, PA, NC, FL. In the coming year more states will be added. They are working on CA now.
Without data there can be no accountability. Even if your state isn't included now, check out the depth and detail of information they have a collected.
Mission- To use data to measure and understand county-level criminal justice system performance.
Goal: To measure every stage of the criminal justice process across the 3,000+ counties in the United States.
Output: A Data Portal that shows how counties are faring in three areas: Fair Process, Public Safety, and Fiscal Responsibility.
Plans: To recollect data every two years to show trends and establish baselines. This is a living website meant to be updated and developed over time to ensure it remains helpful to stakeholders.
Promise:To provide as much context as possible so that data can be interpreted responsibly.
Background Measures for Justice (MFJ) was founded in 2011 to develop a data-driven set of performance measures to assess and compare the criminal justice process from arrest to post-conviction on a county-by-county basis. The data set comprises measures that address three broad categories: Fiscal Responsibility, Fair Process, and Public Safety.
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.
The Prison Industrial Complex: Mapping Private Sector Players
April 2018. This report exposes over 3,100 corporations across twelve sectors that profit from the devastating mass incarceration of our nation’s marginalized communities. It aggregates critical information about these corporations to help advocates, litigators, journalists, investors, and the public fight the commercialization of justice.
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)
A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities
(April 2016). Annie E. Casey Foundation.
More than 5 million U.S. children have had a parent in jail or prison at some point in their lives. The incarceration of a parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence. But while states spend heavily on corrections, few resources exist to support those left behind. A Shared Sentence offers commonsense proposals to address the increased poverty and stress that children of incarcerated parents experience.
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.
Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People
February 2016. Center for American Progress and Movement Advancement Project
LGBT people are disproportionately criminalized, more likely to be discriminated against once they are in custody, and more likely to face additional hurdles once they are released.
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.
What is the Carceral Studies Network Project?
As people struggle to understand their own entanglement with mass incarceration and the carceral state, teachers and learners are designing new courses and producing innovative scholarship on imprisonment, policing, punishment, and community responses to violence. For some of us, these issues lie beyond our core scholarly focus, and many lack specific pedagogical training that can enable us to effectively, respectfully, and creatively engage these controversial issues in the classroom. This site is intended to help.
The Carceral Studies Network hosts resources for those seeking to teach or learn about prisons, policing, and the carceral state. Designed by instructors and students at Duke University, the site is meant to help teachers develop new courses from the ground up, or enrich existing courses with new materials. Learners will also find helpful resources, including texts that can complement assigned readings and syllabi that might facilitate self-study and community-based learning. We hope that this site will be a continually evolving hub for scholarly exchange, innovation, and dialogue, and we encourage users to share their own pedagogical materials with other teachers and learners.
Willie Horton’s Shadow: Clemency in Massachusetts
State Clemency Project. Center for the Administration of Criminal Law. NYU Law. May 2019. This Report of the Center’s State Clemency Project focuses on Massachusetts, where just one sentence has been commuted since 1997. Without a realistic opportunity for clemency, more than 1,000 individuals serving life-without-parole sentences in Massachusetts—13 percent of the state’s prison population—are condemned to die behind bars.
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.