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Vera Institute of Justice (New York, NY)

The relationships between family visitation and an incarcerated youth's behavior and performance in school are examined. The project studied was Families as Partners, a collaboration between the Vera Institute and Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS). Sections of this brief include: introduction; background about the collaboration; data and methodology for this study; findings regarding the impact of visitation on behavior and school performance—youth characteristics, family contact frequency, behavior incidents, and school performance; and conclusion. "Vera researchers found that family visitation of incarcerated youth was associated with improved behavior and school performance. These findings highlight the importance of visitation and suggest that juvenile correctional facilities should try to change their visitation policies and related practices to promote more frequent visitation with families" (p. 1).

The Impact of Family Visitation on Incarcerated Youth's Behavior and School Performance: Findings from the Families as Partners Project Cover

"Jails are far more expensive than previously understood, as significant jail expenditures—such as employee salaries and benefits, health care and education programs for incarcerated people, and general administration—are paid for by county or municipal general funds, and are not reflected in jail budgets. Drawing on surveys from 35 jail jurisdictions from 18 states, this report determined that even the jurisdictions themselves had difficulty pinning down the total cost of their local jail or jail system. It also highlights how the surest way to safely cut costs is to reduce the number of people who enter and stay in jails. In doing so, jurisdictions will be able to save resources and make the investments necessary to address the health and social service needs of their communities, which have for too long landed at the doorstep of their jails." Sections contained in this report include: introduction; methods—measuring the price of jail; results—counting all the costs and the actual price of jails; a tale of two counties—inmate population drive costs; measuring a jail's cost savings; and conclusion. An appendix provides a summary of the survey's results.

The Price of Jails Cover

Based on recent scientific and legal developments, there’s an urgent need to ensure that adolescent development research is incorporated into existing practices and future polices pertaining to youth … [this is an excellent] series of research-based, educational briefings on adolescent brain research, the systemic causes of youth contact with the justice system, and the implications for future legal standards and best practices … seven “deep dive” policy briefing … will each focus on a specific topic, where Vera will bring in noted experts and practitioners in the field." These topics cover status offenses, risk and needs, behavioral health, defense, family involvement, reentry, and interagency collaboration. This website provides access to the video recording of each event:  'Kick Off Event: Adolescent Development Expert Science and Legal Perspective, followed by a screening of 'Kids for Cash'”; "Making Court the Last Resort: Youth and Expert Voices on System Change"; "Examining the First Point of Contact: Youth Risk and Needs Assessment Tools"; "Meeting their Needs: Identifying and Treating Youth with Behavior Health Disorders"; "Raising the Bar: The Lawyer’s Role in Promoting Youth Justice"; "Working Together: Family Engagement with the Juvenile Justice System"; "Returning Home: Creating Paths for Success in Communities"; "Connecting the Dots: How Interagency Collaboration Can Better Serve Vulnerable Youth"; and "Wrap Up Event: Narrowing the Net, Plugging the Pipeline and Expanding Consideration of Special Populations".

The State of Juvenile Justice: A National Conversation about Research, Results, and Reform Cover

“The disproportionate number of people with behavioral health disorders involved in the criminal justice system puts a tremendous strain on scarce public resources and has a huge impact on health care and criminal justice budgets. This research summary demonstrates that with appropriate treatment and access to community-based services, this population is less likely to be incarcerated and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives—while resulting in substantial costs savings. Sections of this publication include: introduction; scope of the problem; treatment alternatives to incarceration, how they work, and how they save money—prevention, jail diversion, courts, community reentry planning, and opportunities under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Treatment Alternatives Cover

“This report examines several states’ ‘‘safety valve’’ statutes — legislation that allows judges to bypass a mandatory sentence under certain circumstances … a safety valve for cases where the mandatory minimum sentence would be unjust … [It] should serve as a guide to lawmakers and policy advisors across the country who are seeking to reduce their states’ inmate populations and save precious resources currently spent on incarceration” (p. 349). Sections of this report discuss: the rising costs and shrinking benefits of mass incarceration; states take the lead in rethinking sentencing policies; sentencing reform being the smartest reform; how a safety valve works; state safety valves; the benefits of a safety valve—protect public safety, give courts flexibility to punish enough but not too much, and save taxpayers money; and a model state sentencing safety valve. Appendixes provide: legislative language that defines sentencing safety valves in Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oregon, and Virginia; and the legislative language for the federal safety value statute.

Turning off the Spigot: How Sentencing Safety Valves can Help States Protect Public Safety and Save Money Cover


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