Back to top

Vera Institute of Justice (New York, NY)

"In 2014, the nationwide jail incarceration rate of 326 per 100,000 county residents exceeded the highest county rates registered in the 1970s, which rarely exceeded 300 per 100,000. Scroll the time slider or click the "Select data"; button to navigate the data"; Interactive charts for U.S. counties or states show the size of jails today; disparate impacts on race; disparate impacts on gender; decades of jail growth; and jail and prison population. There is also a link to the full report from which these charts are taken"; In Our Own Backyard: Confronting Growth and Disparities in American Jails" (December 2015) by Ram Subramanian, Christian Henrichson, and Jacob Kang-Brown.

Jail Incarceration Trends Cover

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) sets standards to ensure that information about PREA and victim services are accessible to people with disabilities. The purpose of this guide is to provide strategies to correctional agencies that will aid their compliance with these PREA requirements. The strategies discussed in this guide draw on established practices used by victim service organizations—both community-based and those based in government agencies—to make their services more accessible for this population. By offering concrete recommendations on how to adapt these community practices to correctional settings, this guide aims to help adult and juvenile correctional facilities increase accessibility for people with disabilities. While it is not a focus of this guide, an important component to making PREA and victim services accessible for people with disabilities is to institutionalize any new practices or partnerships in facility policy" (p. 2). Sections comprising this guide are: purpose; defining disability; sexual abuse and incarcerated people with disabilities—applicable PREA standards, and legal compliance; strategies for making PREA information and victim services accessible—increase access for the broadest range of users, increase capacity for individualized accessibility solutions, ensure access to reporting, and ensure access to victim services; staff training and resources; and conclusion.

Making PREA and victim services accessible for incarcerated people with disabilities: An implementation guide for practitioners on the adult and juvenile standards cover

This is a great introduction to the process by which an organization can evaluate whether a program is evidence-based is explained. “Although this guide grows out of and is targeted to juvenile justice practitioners, it is generally applicable to programs in other social service fields as well. It also bears noting that the steps described here are neither simple nor easy. Nevertheless, they are worth undertaking—even if a program does not complete the entire process, any progress along the way is likely to be beneficial” (p. 3). This publication explains: what an outcome evaluation is; why you need an outcome evaluation; who to prepare for an outcome evaluation; conducting an outcome evaluation; process evaluation—step one—whether the program is true to its original plan, step 2—the elements of an outcome evaluation, and step 3—the next steps after an outcome evaluation; and what statistical significance means.

Measuring Success: A Guide to Becoming an Evidence-Based Practice cover

This report is an excellent introduction to the relationship between incarceration and public health and its significance for society. It is essential reading for anyone working within the fields of corrections and public health. Sections cover: the burden of disease behind bars—mental health, substance use and addiction, infectious disease, chronic disease, violence and self-harm, greater health disparities for women, and geriatric health; conditions of confinement and health—overcrowding, solitary confinement, sexual victimization, and quality of care; the health of communities--family structure, education and employment opportunities, housing stability and social entitlements, health insurance, and political capital; a political landscape ripe for reform; and the potential of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—bolstering community capacity, strengthening front-end alternatives to arrest, prosecution, and incarceration, bridging health and justice systems, enabling outreach and care coordination, enrolling across the criminal justice continuum, granting Medicaid waivers and innovation, advancing health information technology, and regional challenges with the ACA.

On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration Cover

"Human trafficking, often called “modern-day slavery,” occurs on a massive scale, trapping thousands of victims in lives of incredible suffering with seemingly no way to escape. It does not necessarily involve transporting people across bor¬ders, but it does involve victimization and serious crimes committed within the U.S. Responding to this scourge requires knowing who and where victims are. To this end, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) completed a two-year study, Improv¬ing Trafficking Victim Identification. The study created, field tested, and validated the first-ever screening tool that can reliably identify adult and minor victims of sex and labor trafficking, both U.S. and foreign-born. The tool is a statistically validated 30-topic questionnaire designed to elicit evi¬dence of trafficking victimization. Vera also researched the best way to conduct interviews with potential victims in order to facilitate trust between interviewers and respondents. With national dissemination, this screening tool should lead to better identification of trafficking victims and improved responses to victims by law enforcement, other legal professionals, and service providers in various types of agencies and settings." At this website, one can get: the Research Summary; the technical report "Improving Human Trafficking Victim Identification— Validation and Dissemination of a Screening Tool—Final Report"; "Guidelines for Administering the Trafficking Victim Identification Tool (TVIT)"—Long and Short Versions; and TVIT Long and Short Versions in Spanish.

Out of the Shadows: A Tool for the Identification of Victims of Human Trafficking cover

“Since 2000, at least 29 states have taken steps to roll back mandatory sentences, with 32 bills passed in just the last five years. Most legislative activity has focused on adjusting penalties for nonviolent drug offenses through the use of one or a combination of the following reform approaches: 1) expanding judicial discretion through the creation of so-called “safety value” provisions, 2) limiting automatic sentence enhancements, and 3) repealing or revising mandatory minimum sentences. In this policy report, Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections summarizes state-level mandatory sentencing reforms since 2000, raises questions about their impact, and offers recommendations to jurisdictions considering similar efforts.” This report contains these sections: introduction; background; new approaches to mandatory sentences; the impact of reforms; research and policy considerations; and future directions.

Playbook for Change Cover

This study 'demonstrated that there is not always a discernible relationship between population and spend'ing shifts from one part of the system to another. Policy changes that aim to cut spending on prisons do not necessarily have the expected impact on community corrections populations or spending. Larger fiscal realities, other legislative changes, and factors outside of policymakers' control can upset predictions of a policy's impact' (p. 2). Sections contained in this report include: introduction; methodology; summary of findings'prison populations and expenditures, and community corrections populations and expenditures; and conclusion'policy implications and fiscal realities. An appendix covers the structure of community corrections.

Realigning Justice Resources: A Review of Population and Spending Shifts in Prison and Community Corrections cover

"For millions of Americans, the legal and life-restricting consequences of a criminal conviction continue even after they’ve repaid their debt to society as barriers to voting, housing, jobs, education, and a raft of social services limit their ability to provide for their families and successfully reenter society. In recognition of the damaging effects these collateral consequences can have, 41 states have enacted legislation since 2009 that allows certain individuals to move beyond their convictions. This report reviews that legislative activity, discusses the limitations of current approaches, and offers recommendations to states and localities considering similar reforms." Sections of this report include: introduction; background; new approaches to collateral consequences—expungement and sealing remedies, certificated of recovery, offense downgrades, building relief into the criminal justice process, ameliorating employment-related collateral consequences, access to information, and addressing discrete collateral consequences (i.e., housing, immigration, health care, family issues, financial health, education, public assistance, enfranchisement, sex offender registries, and driving privileges); limitations of reform; recommendations; and conclusion. Appendixes provide these tables: Collateral Consequences Reform Legislation by Year, 2009-2014; Collateral Consequences Reform Legislation by State, 2009-2014; Discrete Collateral Consequences Reform Legislation, 2009-2014; and Collateral Consequences Reform Legislation by Reform Type, 2009-2014. This website provides access to the full report, summary, and related infographic.

Relief in Sight? States Rethink the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction, 2009-2014 Cover

These guidelines were developed “to screen for risk of sexual victimization and for abusiveness, including questions to be asked of inmates, residents, and detainees, and the best use of the information from the screening to inform housing decisions … While specifics will vary by type of facility, including the age and gender of the individuals, these general principles will hold true in a wide range of contexts” (p. 2). Sections of this publication address: what the purpose of screening is and what are its limitations; what the key elements of a screening instrument are; requirements for different facility types such as prisons and jails, lockups, community confinement facilities, and juvenile facilities; developing a screening instrument; screening women for vulnerability; what the appropriate ways to use PREA screening information are--whether facilities should base housing decisions on the information gotten from the screening instrument; and what is needed for a successful rollout of a screening instrument.

Screening for Risk of Sexual Victimization and for Abusiveness: Guidelines for Administering Screening Instruments and Using the Information to Inform Housing Decisions Cover

"Segregated housing, commonly known as solitary confinement, is increasingly being recognized in the United States as a human rights issue. While the precise number of people held in segregated housing on any given day is not known with any certainty, estimates run to more than 80,000 in state and federal prisons—which is surely an undercount as these do not include people held in solitary confinement in jails, military facilities, immigration detention centers, or juvenile justice facilities. Evidence mounts that the practice produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed in isolation, for the public safety of the communities to which most will return, and for the corrections budgets of jurisdictions that rely on it for facility safety. Yet solitary confinement remains a mainstay of prison management and control in the U.S. largely because many policymakers, corrections officials, and members of the general public still subscribe to some or all of the common misconceptions and misguided justifications addressed in this report." The most common misconceptions are corrected while describing some of the promising alternatives that reduce the use of solitary confinement. The ten misconceptions are: conditions in segregated housing are stark but not inhumane; segregated housing is reserved only for the most violent; segregated housing is used only as a last resort; segregated housing is used only for brief periods of time; the harmful effects of segregated housing are overstated and not well understood; segregated housing helps keep prisons and jails safer; segregated housing deters misbehavior and violence; segregated housing is the only way to protect the vulnerable; safe alternatives to segregated housing are expensive; and incarcerated people are rarely released directly to the community from segregated housing. Also included is a copy of the Washington State Department of Corrections "Prison Sanctioning Guidelines: Violation Categories and Range of Sanction Options" (current as of 5/7/15). The grid shows general and serious violation sanction options for the first offense, second offense, third offense, and the maximum ranges of sanction.

Solitary Confinement Cover


Subscribe to Vera Institute of Justice (New York, NY)