Current Thinking

Scarlet Neath

Sep 11, 2015
On Thursday, Vice President Biden and Manhattan DA Cy Vance announced that they will put a combined $79 million toward addressing the vast number of untested rape kits that are held in crime labs and police agencies nationwide. However, these grants to more than 40 law enforcement agencies are expected to pay for just 70,000 kits—not nearly enough to clear the national backlog. How many untested kits are there? Nobody quite knows. One widely cited estimate says 400,000. Others say it’s...
Mar 30, 2015
For the past six months, we’ve used an anniversary—the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, better known as the Crime Bill—as an inflection point to examine our criminal justice system. The Justice in Focus: Crime Bill @ 20 multimedia initiative brought together nearly 30 distinct voices—from the White House to Sesame Street—to reflect on how we arrived at our current system, and where to go from here to improve it.   On March 10th, on the heels...
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Aug 19, 2014
More than 700,000 people leave jail and prison each year needing permanent housing. Studies have shown that obtaining permanent housing means that formerly incarcerated individuals are more likely to gain employment, maintain sobriety, complete parole supervision, and achieve the necessary stability to stay safely in the community. Many of the family members of these individuals live in public housing—a place where people with a criminal record are often prohibited from living.   Vera’s Family...
Apr 30, 2014
In 2012, the number of patients with severe mental illness in prisons and jails was ten times the number in state psychiatric hospitals. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing entitled “Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety.” Led by Subcommittee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin, it featured the verbal testimony of a judge, law enforcement officials, and...
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Apr 9, 2014
On Tuesday night, Vera held its eight annual benefit, Our Youth – Our Future, and honored Bryan Stevenson and David Fein for their significant contributions to improving our justice systems. Following opening remarks by Vera Board Chairman John Savarese, Vera President Nick Turner asked the audience to imagine what the room would look like if a third of its occupants were absent. If current incarceration rates continue, he said, that is the future in store for black children born today,...
Mar 28, 2014
An upturn in violence at New York City’s Rikers Island Jail has been the focus of recent media attention, most notably in the February death of veteran Jerome Murdough in an overheated cell and the arrest of a correction officer charged in the August 2012 death of another inmate with a history of psychiatric needs detained in the jail. Mayor Bill de Blasio has subsequently promised reform at Rikers Island, one of the nation’s largest jails at a capacity of nearly 15,000 people. According to...

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