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The Sentencing Project (Washington DC)

“Public safety is compromised when youth leaving out-of-home placements are not afforded necessary supportive services upon reentering their communities and are therefore at great risk to recidivate into criminal behavior” (p. 5). This report provides guidance and recommendations for achieving successful reentry services and programs. Sections following an executive summary are: introduction; characteristics of reentry youth; collateral consequences associated with out-of-home placement; essential components of youth reentry services; effective outcomes for youth reentry; federal support for reentry in the child welfare system; principles for effective youth reentry; and recommendations for federal leadership in youth reentry.

Back on Track: Supporting Youth Reentry from Out-of-Home Placement to the Community Cover

“The articles in this collection provide a multifaceted look at some of the problems that potentially arise for children when the criminal justice, immigration enforcement, and child welfare systems converge in their parents’ life. They provide information and offer insights reflecting diverse perspectives and experiences and lay out a range of policy and practice reform recommendations” (p. 2). The seven chapters contained in this publication are: “Introduction: Children in Harm’s Way” by Susan D. Phillips; “Family Unity in the Face of Immigration Enforcement: Past, Present, and Future” by Emily Butera and Wendy Cervantes; “The Treacherous Triangle: Criminal Justice, Immigration Enforcement, and Child Welfare” by Seth Freed Wessler; “Two-Tiered Justice for Juveniles” by Angie Junck, Charisse Domingo, and Helen Beasley; “Potential Immigration Consequences of State Criminal Convictions” by Steven Weller and John A. Martin; “Immigration Enforcement and Family Courts” by David B. Thronson; and “Unanswered Questions about Immigration Enforcement and Children’s Well-Being” by Alan J. Dettlaff and Yali Lincroft.

Children in Harm's Way Cover

"A major reduction has taken place in the number of teenagers committed to juvenile facilities in this century. At a time of increasing calls to cut the number of incarcerated adults by 50 percent over 10 years, the juvenile justice system has already attained this goal. Moreover, the decline has taken place without harming public safety" (p. 1). Information provided in this report includes: "Figure 1. Juvenile Facilities and Placements, 1997-2013"; "Table 1. Juvenile Commitment Changes by State, 2001-2013"; "Table 2. Juvenile Commitment Rates by State, 2013"; "Figure 2. Youth Commitment Changes by State, 2001-2013"; "Figure 3. Youth Commitment Rate per 100,000 by State, 2013"; racial and ethnic disparities; "Table 3. Black/White Commitment Rates per 100,000 Juveniles, 2011"; one in three juvenile facilities have closed since 2002; "Figure 4. Number of Juvenile Offenders by Size of Facility, 1997-2013"; "Figure 5. Percent of Juvenile Offenders by Size of Facility, 1997-2013"; and concluding remarks. "Reductions in juvenile offending combined with common-sense policy changes have led to large reductions in the number and percentages of teenagers in large state facilities and generally in confinement … Confinement should be used sparingly and briefly, and only as a last resort. For serious offenders, a successful program should be intensive and address teenaged aggression, focusing on rehabilitation to keep them in confinement only as long as they are a threat to public safety" (p. 6-7).

Declines in Youth Communities and Facilities in the 21st Century Cover

"Despite positive trends regarding juvenile interactions with the justice system, racial disparities remain as a persistent problem. African-American youth comprise 17 percent of the population, but comprise 31 percent of all arrested youth. This briefing paper explains how disproportionate minority contact (DMC) with the juvenile justice system is measured and takes a close look at drug offenses, property crimes, and status offenses. Racial disparities weaken the credibility of a justice system that purports to treat everyone equally." Sections cover: what "contact" is; the extent of the problem; measuring DMC using the Relative Rate Index (RRI); encounters with the justice system—disproportionate arrest rates for status offenders, property crime arrests, and drug offenses; how policy choices worsen disparities—school discipline as a law enforcement issue, valid court order (VCO), and geography and population density; disproportionate minority confinement—RRI for pre- and post-adjudication detention and placement; and eliminating disproportionate minority contact by reauthorizing and strengthening the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).

Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Juvenile Justice System Cover

"Although the pace of criminal justice reform has accelerated at both the federal and state levels in the past decade, current initiatives have had only a modest effect on the size of the prison population. But over this period, three states – New York, New Jersey, and California – have achieved prison population reductions in the range of 25%. They have also seen their crime rates generally decline at a faster pace than the national average" (p. 1). This brief describes how these outcomes were achieved and explains other states can significantly reduce their prison population while ensuring public safety. Sections contained in this brief are: key findings; a decade of evolving criminal justice reform; limited impact on incarceration to date; substantial prison population declines in three states; impact of prison populations reductions on crime; policies and practices that reduced the prison population in the three states; the limited relationship between incarceration and crime; international experience in prison population reduction; potential for substantial prison population reductions; three goals for expanding prison population reduction; and conclusion.

Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States Cover

"There are few areas of American society where racial disparities are as profound and as troubling as in the criminal justice system. In fact, racial perceptions of crime and race influenced policy development have been intimately tied to the development of mass incarceration. Yet there is growing evidence that the high rate of minority imprisonment is excessive for public safety goals and damaging for family and community structures in high incarceration neighborhoods. This briefing paper provides an overview of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and a framework for developing and implementing remedies for these disparities." Six sections comprise this publication: incorporating racial equality as a goal in criminal justice reform; overview of racial equality in the criminal justice system; causes of racial disparity—socioeconomic inequality, handicapping of low-income people by resource allocation decisions, disparate racial impact of ostensibly race-neutral policies, and implicit racial bias among criminal justice professionals; best practices for reducing racial disparity; implementation strategies and metrics for success; and conclusion.

Incorporating Racial Equality Into Criminal Justice Reform Cover

While “privatization has enjoyed a steady reemergence in the United States, the companies managing these facilities have faced persistent criticism for providing low-quality services, failing to save taxpayer money, and negatively affecting criminal justice policy. Despite these failures, several countries have followed the United States in utilizing private prisons and detention centers with the intent of decreasing correctional expenditures and reducing prison overcrowding. These developments have helped private U.S. prison companies diversify their investments at a time when America’s prison population growth has stalled … [unfortunately] these companies have thrived off of the expanded privatization of prisons, immigration detention systems, and other governmental services, while often failing to deliver on the services that were promised” (p. 1). This report looks at the increasing use of for-profit prison privatization around the world. Topics discussed include: the extent of international privatization; percent of prisoners held privately; privatization trends in selected countries—Australia, Scotland, England and Wales, New Zealand, and South Africa; number of prisoners held publically and privately for Australia, Scotland, England and Wales, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States; number of publically and privately held immigrant detainees in the United Kingdom; and concerns over privatization related to substandard service, unlikely financial benefits, and government policies guaranteeing higher incarceration rates resulting in more privatization contracts.

International Growth Trends in Prison Privatization Cover

“Today, the parents of 1 in every 50 children in the United States are in prison. 1 Over half of those parents are serving time for non-violent offenses.2 The gains in public safety benefits stemming from incarcerating a record number of parents are dubious, but the potential adverse consequences for children are clear. More than 40 percent of parents in prison lived with their children before they were sent to prison and half were the main source of financial support for their children.3 Sending parents to prison contributes to single-parent households, damages family ties, and exacerbates chronic childhood poverty” (p. 1).

Parents in State Prisons cover

"To guide and give greater momentum to recent calls for reform, this report examines a key driving force of criminal justice outcomes: racial perceptions of crime. A complex set of factors contributes to the severity and selectivity of punishment in the United States, including public concern about crime and racial differences in crime rates. This report synthesizes two decades of research establishing that skewed racial perceptions of crime – particularly, white Americans’ strong associations of crime with racial minorities – have bolstered harsh and biased criminal justice policies" (p. 3). Eight sections follow an executive summary: introduction; public support for punitive policies—historical changes in punitive sentiment, and the racial gaps in punitiveness and victimization; racial perceptions of crime—overestimating Black and Hispanic crime rates, and implicit biases against people of color; racial perceptions of crime linked to punitiveness; sources of racial perceptions of crime; punitiveness linked to other racial gaps in views and experiences—Whites' limited and favorable criminal justice contact, racial prejudice, and individualistic accounts of crime; consequences of a biased and punitive criminal justice system—eroded perceived legitimacy, and undermining public safety; and remedies and recommendations for the media and researchers, policymakers, and practitioners and other stakeholders.

Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies Cover

“This report chronicles the racial disparity that permeates every stage of the United States criminal justice system, from arrest to trial to sentencing. In particular, the report highlights the influence of implicit racial bias and recounts the findings of the burgeoning scholarship on the role of such bias in the criminal justice system” (p. 2). Sections cover: racial disparity in police activity; racial disparity in trials—indigent defense counsel, prosecution, and juries, trial judges, and presumptions of innocence; racial disparity in sentencing—capital punishment, and the “War on Drugs”; closing the courthouse door—discretion, racial bias, and the Supreme Court; and ten recommendations for reducing racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Report of The Sentencing Project to the United Nations Human Rights Committee: Regarding Racial Disparities in the United States Criminal Justice System Cover


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