International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange

"As states continue to rethink outdated assumptions, they would be wise to pay close attention to European counterparts." 
— The New York Times Editorial Board

The International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange, a partnership between the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Vera Institute of Justice (Vera), seeks to build a cross-cultural learning community among American and international policymakers and thought leaders that informs and shapes the global conversation on criminal justice. The exchange aims to expose American policymakers and other opinion leaders to sentencing and corrections practices used internationally and support them in finding ways to translate ideas and innovations into concrete policy and practice changes.

To accomplish these goals, 1) an invited delegation spent four days in June 2015 visiting corrections facilities in Germany, engaging German and other European criminal justice practitioners, service providers, and criminologists in discussions to exchange ideas and share successful strategies; and 2) the knowledge gleaned from this trip and the responses of participants was broadly disseminated via a robust media and public education campaign featuring print, broadcast, and social media that aims to elevate the national discussion around sentencing and corrections policy.

Mass Incarceration and International Solutions

With 700 per 100,000 people incarcerated, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. However, research indicates that the prison build-up over the last few decades is responsible for only about 20 percent of the crime decline experienced since the early 1990s, and it will have only marginal impact on crime going forward. In addition, prisoner recidivism has remained high over the last 20 years—hovering at a rate of 67.5 percent of those released from prison getting rearrested within three years. This suggests that current sentencing policies and prison practices in the United States are in need of reevaluation.

In contrast, the use of incarceration and conditions within prisons in Europe differ dramatically from those found in the U.S. For example, German law encourages, and in certain cases requires, the use of alternative sanctions, including day fines, restitution, and community service orders, particularly for non-violent crimes. These alternatives, in addition to cultural and procedural differences, have resulted in historically lower incarceration rates than the U.S.: 79 per 100,000 people. Additionally, life in German prisons tries to approximate as much as possible the positive aspects of life in the community, with a central focus on rehabilitation, re-socialization, and reentry—resulting in conditions and practices within German correctional facilities that differ significantly than in the U.S.

History of the Exchange

This project builds on the first study tour that Vera convened in February 2013 in partnership with the Prison Law Office in California. That tour brought three teams of government leaders from Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania to Germany and the Netherlands and exposed participants to alternative sentencing and corrections practices. The aim was to encourage a fresh comparative look at America’s prisons and to advance dialogue around how European practices could inform those in the United States. That project culminated in an influential report that received attention from policymakers and the media. It also resulted in the implementation of concrete reforms within Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections.

Featured Resources



In the News

Crime and Punishment
60 Minutes, April 3, 2016

The New York Times (Opinion), "What We Learned From German Prisons"
By Nicholas Turner and Jeremy Travis, The New York Times, August 6, 2015

Malloy enacts law to help nonviolent criminals reintegrate
The Associated Press, July 9, 2015

The Stiff Competition to Work in German Prisons (Day 5)
By Maurice Chammah, The Marshall Project, June 22, 2015



Dispatches from Germany: A breath of fresh air
By Ryan Shanahan

What we hope to learn from European Prisons
By Mary Crowley



One cannot be re-socialized or rehabilitated if there is little or no opportunity to interact with the free world, whether through employment, family engagement, or study.

—Nicholas Turner 
President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice




Quick links:
> Participants
> Project Partners - Germany
> Project Partners - John Jay College of Criminal Justice
> Project Staff - Vera Institute of Justice


Scott Budnick is the Founder and President of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. He grew up in Atlanta, GA, and graduated from Emory University in 1999 with degrees in Business and Film. As Executive Vice President of Todd Phillips’ production company, Green Hat Films, Budnick executive produced many successful comedies, including the highest grossing rated-R comedies in history, THE HANGOVER series. Outside of film, Budnick is a fierce champion for children in need. He is a teacher and serves on the Advisory Board for InsideOUT Writers, an organization that aims to reduce juvenile recidivism through the use of creative writing and by providing a range of services to meet the needs of currently and formerly incarcerated young adults. Budnick also serves on the Board of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and on the Advisory Board for the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy. For his work with youth in the criminal justice system, Governor Jerry Brown named Budnick California’s Volunteer of the Year for 2012. Budnick currently sits on the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) and the Governor-appointed California Community Colleges Board of Governors. Most recently, Budnick was asked to be an Advisory Board Member of President Obama’s newly created foundation My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.

John T. Chisholm, an army veteran, is the District Attorney of Milwaukee County. His office handles criminal cases for the State of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. As District Attorney, Chisholm organizes his office to work closely with neighborhoods through his nationally recognized Community Prosecution program. He designed a Child Protection Advocacy Unit to better serve child victims, formed a Public Integrity Unit to focus on public corruption matters, and a Witness Protection Unit to thwart attempts to intimidate victims and witnesses of crime. He also helped start the drug treatment court, spearheaded the establishment of the Veterans Treatment Initiative and Treatment Court, participated in Milwaukee County’s selection as a seed site for the National Institute of Corrections’ Evidence-Based Decision Making framework, and participated in the Vera Institute of Justice’s groundbreaking study related to prosecution and racial justice. Chisholm is the past chair of the Milwaukee County Community Justice Council and of the Washington DC-based Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. He sits on numerous boards including the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, Safe & Sound, and the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area board. John is a graduate of Marquette University and University of Wisconsin Law School.

Craig DeRoche is the Sr. Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy for Prison Fellowship, the largest prison ministry in the world. He is also the Executive Director of Justice Fellowship, the advocacy arm of Prison Fellowship. DeRoche is a former city councilman, state legislator, and speaker of the House of Representatives in Michigan. He began his work in advocating for criminal justice reform after Chuck Colson heard him giving a speech on addiction, public policy, and conservative politics (DeRoche is in recovery himself). DeRoche is active in his church and community and volunteers to help others in addiction recovery. DeRoche has been married to Stacey for 17 years and has three young daughters.

Laurie R. Garduque is the Director of Justice Reform at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Garduque joined the Foundation in 1991 after serving as Director of the National Forum on the Future of Children and Families, a joint project of the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. From 1984 to 1987, she was the Director of Governmental and Professional Liaison for the American Educational Research Association in Washington, D.C. This position followed the year she spent, from 1983 to 1984, as a Congressional Science Fellow in the U.S. Senate. From 1980 to 1985, Garduque held a faculty position as an Assistant Professor in Human Development at the Pennsylvania State University. She previously served on the boards of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Children Youth and Families, the Youth Transition Funders Group Juvenile Justice Working Group, and on the federal Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council, under Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She currently serves on the Federal Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. She received her bachelor's degree in Psychology and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Evan Guillemin is a Principal and Associate Portfolio Manager at Select Equity Group, a New York City-based investment manager and a trustee of the Vera Institute of Justice. Guillemin joined Select Equity in April 2004 as the firm’s Chief Financial Officer and later served as a senior analyst. He is an Associate Portfolio Manager of the firm’s global investment portfolio and is a member of the Firm’s Management Committee. Guillemin also serves as Chairman of the SEG Foundation, the firm’s philanthropic arm. Prior to joining Select Equity, Guillemin was Chief Financial Officer and then Chief Operating Officer of Delia*s Inc., a publicly traded retail company. Prior to that, he served as Director of Acquisitions at Primedia and as an editor and reporter at International Thomson. Guillemin received a BA in English from Yale College and an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School. Guillemin serves on the boards of directors for Shake Shack Inc, Mesa Labs, and Bremont Chronometers.

Marc A. Levin, Esq., is the director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Policy Director of its Right on Crime initiative. In 2010, Levin developed the concept for the Right on Crime initiative, which has become the national clearinghouse for conservative criminal justice reforms. Levin has testified on sentencing reform and solitary confinement at separate hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and has testified before legislatures in states such as Texas, Nevada, Kansas, Wisconsin, and California. In 2007, he was honored in a resolution unanimously passed by the Texas House of Representatives that stated, “Mr. Levin’s intellect is unparalleled and his research is impeccable.” Levin served as a law clerk to Judge Will Garwood on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Staff Attorney at the Texas Supreme Court.

Laura Macomber is the Coordinating Producer of the American Justice Summit. Macomber is a writer and producer with broadcast, print, and digital experience. She is a former producer of the acclaimed Women in the World Summit and the Daily Beast’s Hero Summit, and has worked as a field producer and post-production supervisor for Nickelodeon Kids. Macomber worked with Bill Moyers on the 2014 documentary North Carolina: State of Conflict and is a former writer for the Moyers & Company website What Matters Today. She holds a BA from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

Dannel P. Malloy is serving the people of Connecticut for a second term as Governor. Since 2011, his administration’s top agenda items have included creating jobs, improving public education, stabilizing the state’s finances, making long-overdue investments in the state’s transportation infrastructure, and protecting the environment. Collaborating with local, state, and federal agencies, in addition to community-based nonprofits and other community advocates, Governor Malloy helped implement initiatives that are resulting in Connecticut experiencing its lowest crime rate in nearly four decades. During his first term as Governor, Connecticut had one of the largest decreases in violent crime and property crime rates of any state in the nation—more than double the national average. In 2013, he was proud to sign what some have called the most comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation in the country. Previously, Governor Malloy served as Stamford, CT’s longest-serving mayor from 1995 to 2009. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston College and continued on to Boston College Law School. After graduation, he became a prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, serving for four years as an Assistant Attorney and winning 22 convictions in 23 felony cases.

Gregg Marcantel, a United States Marine Corps (USMC) veteran, has been an experienced law enforcement executive for over three decades. Gregg currently serves the State of New Mexico as Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Corrections Department. Before assuming his current post, Marcantel served the New Mexico Department of Public Safety as their Deputy Cabinet Secretary following his retirement from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a Division Commander. During Marcantel’s career, he successfully completed the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Academy and currently serves as the President of the New Mexico FBI National Academy Associates. Marcantel also attended the Police Staff College, Bramshill in the United Kingdom, where he studied the leadership and management of serious and serial crimes. He holds an MS in Forensic and Legal Psychology from the University of Leicester and a BA in Criminal Justice from Chaminade University of Honolulu. Throughout his public safety career, Marcantel has received numerous awards ranging from the Navy Achievement Medal in the USMC to national recognition by the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to include receipt of the nation’s Top Cop Award by the National Association of Police Organizations in Washington, D.C. He has presented both nationally and internationally on a host of complex criminal investigation strategies and served in university adjunct faculty roles relating to the delivery of a variety of criminal justice courses, including Criminal Investigations, Behavior-based Rape Investigations, Murder; an Analytical Study, Police Supervision and Management, and Forensic Psychology.

Khalil Muhammad is the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and a Visiting Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center. He holds a doctorate in U.S. history from Rutgers University and is a former associate professor of history at Indiana University. He is a contributor to the 2014 National Research Council study The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences and is the author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard), which won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book award in American Studies. His research focuses on racial criminalization in modern U.S. history and has been featured in a number of national print and broadcast media outlets, including the New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, NPR and MSNBC. He is a former associate editor of The Journal of American History and former Andrew W. Mellon fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice.

Dr. Amanda Parsons is the Vice President of Community & Population Health at Montefiore Health System, headquartered in the Bronx. Dr. Parsons sits on the Vera Institute of Justice’s Board of Trustees. In addition to working on the DSRIP (Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment) initiatives, she oversees patient education, employee wellness, and community interventions aimed at improving health and wellness. She was previously Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Health Care Access and Improvement at the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, where she oversaw the Primary Care Information Project, Correctional Health Services, Primary Care Access and Planning, as well as IT, Finance, Admin, and Legal bureaus. Dr. Parsons previously worked for McKinsey & Company as an Engagement Manager serving health care clients. She earned her MD and MBA from Columbia University. Dr. Parsons is passionate about improving health and health care quality, correctional health, and reducing disparities for vulnerable populations. She serves on the boards of the directors for the Vera Institute of Justice, VIP Community Services, and the New York eHealth Collaborative, and is on the Chairman’s Council of the New York Restoration Project. She was recently selected as one of Crain’s 2015 40 Under 40.

Vikrant P. Reddy is a Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute. Reddy previously served as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), where he managed the launch of TPPF’s national Right on Crime initiative in 2010. He has also worked as a research assistant at the Cato Institute, as a law clerk to Judge Gina M. Benavides of the 13th Court of Appeals of Texas, and as an attorney in private practice. Reddy t graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s in Plan II Honors, economics, and history, and he earned his law degree at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, and he is an appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Texas State Advisory Committee.

Jeff Rosen joined the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in 1995 and was elected District Attorney in 2010.  He has successfully prosecuted many complex and high profile criminal cases, including rape, child molestation, gang violence, and murder. Before joining the District Attorney’s Office, he practiced commercial litigation in Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Rosen graduated from UCLA, where he majored in Philosophy, and received his law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. Rosen is active in the community and has served as president of a large synagogue, taught trial advocacy to law students, and trained police officers in report writing.

Derrick D. Schofield, a nationally recognized leader in corrections, has served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction since 2011 and is responsible for 109,000 offenders, 6,800 employees, a $950 million operating budget, overseeing 14 prisons, a training academy, 45 probation and parole offices, and headquarters. Schofield successfully passed legislation to create a seamless system of supervision of adult felony offenders under one agency and partnered to open the first female transition center in Tennessee. He served in the United States Army, attaining the rank of captain, earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Fort Valley State University, an MA in Public Administration from Columbus State University, and graduated from Georgia Law Enforcement Command College. Schofield is pursuing his doctorate from Tennessee Temple University. He is President of the Southern Region of the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) as well as an active member of other committees for ASCA, Tennessee state government, and local community boards.

Scott Semple was appointed Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Correction in March 2015. Scott joined the Connecticut Department of Correction as a front line Correction Officer in 1988 at the high security Cheshire Correctional Institution. While working up the ranks, he has held key positions within the agency, including a supervisor at the training academy, the agency’s spokesperson, and the Legislative Liaison for the department. In 2004, Semple was assigned to the Garner Correctional Institution, where he fulfilled a critical role in establishing the agency's first consolidated environment for male offenders with significant mental health needs. He would later serve as the Unit Administrator/Warden at that same facility. In November 2013, then Commissioner James E. Dzurenda appointed Semple as the Deputy Commissioner of Operations and Rehabilitative Services and, less than one year later, with the retirement of Commissioner Dzurenda in August 2014, Semple was chosen to serve as the Interim Commissioner for the agency, a role he filled until his substantive appointment in 2015.

Shaka Senghor is the Director of Strategy and Innovation at #cut50, a national bipartisan initiative to safely and smartly reduce America’s incarcerated population by 50 percent over the next 10 years through a number of methods, including convening unlikely allies, elevating proven solutions, and communicating a powerful new narrative. Senghor is a writer, mentor, and motivational speaker whose story of redemption has inspired young adults at high schools and universities across the nation. While serving 19 years in prison, Senghor discovered his love for writing. He has written six books, including a new memoir about his life in prison, Writing My Wrongs. He is the author of the detective series Crack: Volume 1 and Crack: Volume 2, and most recently published Live in Peace: A Youth Guide to Turning Hurt into Hope, a companion piece to his mentoring program. Senghor has worked with youth at the Detroit Job Corps and many area high schools and has lectured at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville, the University of Michigan, Fordham University, Wayne State University, Marygrove College, and Pace University. He is also an invited guest on local radio and television programs. Senghor is a recipient of Knight Foundation’s BME Leadership Award.

Michael Tonry is McKnight Presidential Professor of Criminal Law and Policy and director, Institute on Crime and Public Policy, University of Minnesota; senior fellow in the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, Free University Amsterdam; and a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute on Comparative and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany. He was previously professor of law and public policy and director of the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University, and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Since 2001, he has been a visiting professor of law and criminology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He has written and edited a number of books on comparative and cross-national criminal justice subjects and has been a consultant on criminal justice policy in a number of countries.

Bernie Warner has over 34 years of experience in both juvenile and adult corrections. In July 2011, Warner was appointed by Governor Gregoire as the Secretary of the Washington Department of Corrections. As Secretary, Warner leads an agency of 8,000 employees responsible for over 35,000 offenders in 12 prisons, 15 work release facilities, and 123 community supervision offices throughout the state. Warner has also held executive positions in corrections in the states of Arizona, Florida, and most recently, California, where he served as chief deputy secretary at the Department of Juvenile Justice. In each jurisdiction, Secretary Warner has focused on comprehensive system reform based on an evidence-based model of risk, need, and responsivity. In Washington state, Warner is leading several innovative initiatives,  including:  the reengineering of community corrections; providing for the first statewide implementation of the HOPE model; blending swift and certain sanctions with community-based cognitive behavioral interventions; a “mission-focused” response to offenders in restrictive programs; significantly reducing the number of inmates in segregation; the piloting of a prison-based “cease-fire” model as a strategy to manage serious gang behavior; and a gender responsive strategy to ensure appropriate services for incarcerated women.Warner is currently on the board of the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) and Western Region President of the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA). Top ^

Project Partners - Germany

Frieder Dünkel, Professor, Department of Criminology, University of Greifswald

Frieder Dünkel studied law at the universities of Heidelberg and Freiburg/Germany. His Ph. D. in 1979 dealt with empirical research on the effectiveness of therapeutic treatment in prisons. From 1979 until 1992, he worked as a researcher at the Max-Plank-Institute of Foreign and International Penal Law, Criminological Unit, in Freiburg, Germany. The subject of his “Habilitation” in 1989 was “Juvenile imprisonment and other forms of deprivation of liberty in an international comparison”. Since 1992, he has taught criminology, penology, juvenile justice, criminal procedure and criminal law at the University of Greifswald, Germany. He has also conducted several empirical research projects and has been widely published in these areas, with 34 books and 465 articles, published in many languages. He has been co-editor of the Journal Neue Kriminalpolitik since 1989 and of the European Journal of Criminology since 2003. Dr. Dünkel has organised many international conferences and expert seminars on juvenile justice issues and international comparative prison policy. He was a member of the Criminological Scientific Council of the Council of Europe between 1998 and 2004 and has been its president since 2001. Since 1994, he has co-ordinated several Tempus-projects funded by the European Union. Furthermore, Dr. Dünkel co-ordinates Socrates exchange programs with 35 universities in Western and Eastern Europe and teaches courses in German, English, and French at several European universities.

Jörg Jesse, Director General, Prison and Probation Administration, Acts of Clemency, Ministry of Justice of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania   

Jörg Jesse studied Psychology at the Christian Albrechts University of Kiel. He has been working in prisons since 1983 in the following areas: open juvenile prisons, closed adult prisons, and the Prisons Department, Ministry of Justice. He worked in managerial positions from 1993 to 2003, including as Deputy Head of the Juvenile Prison of Hameln, Head of the Prison of Salinenmoor, and Head of the Prison of Hannover. Since 2003, he has been Head of the Department of Prisons, Social Services and Reprieves, Ministry of Justice of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schwerin. He has been a Member of the Council of Europe PC-CP (European Council of Penological Cooperation) since 2011.

Dr. Gero Meinen, Director General, Department of Prison Service, Social Services of the Courts and Petition for Clemency and Director General, Department of Criminal Law, The Senate Administration of Justice, Berlin

Dr. Gero Meinen studied law at Freie Universität Berlin from 1982 to 1987. After graduating with distinction, and a few years as scientific assistance at the University’s Department for Criminal Law, Gero started his law career in 1992 as a judge in Berlin, where he served as both a criminal court and guardianship court judge. After receiving a doctorate in law in 1994, Dr. Meinen became a supervisor for Tegel prison under Berlin’s Senate Administration of Justice in 1995 and then the head of department for treatment and security measures at Tegel prison in 1998. From 2000 to 2003, he again worked as a criminal court judge at Berlin County Court. He was subsequently elevated to a judgeship at the Regional Court of Berlin in 2003, and, in 2004, was appointed judge at the Court of Appeal. Since 2007, he has also been working as a lecturer at Freie Universität Berlin. Dr. Meinen was appointed to the position of Director General of the Department of Prison Service, Social Services of the Courts and Petition for Clemency of the Senate Administration of Justice, in an acting capacity in 2005 and in a substantive capacity in 2008. In 2014, Dr. Meinen was also appointed Director General of the Department of Criminal Law. Top ^

Project Partners - John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Jeremy Travis, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

Prior to his appointment as President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Jeremy served as a Senior Fellow in the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, where he launched a national research program focused on prisoner reentry into society. From 1994 to 2000, he directed the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to his service in Washington, he was Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters for the New York City Police Department (1990-1994), a Special Advisor to New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch (1986-89), and Special Counsel to the Police Commissioner of the NYPD (1984-86). Before joining city government, Travis spent a year as a law clerk to then-U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He began his career in criminal justice working as a legal services assistant for the Legal Aid Society, New York’s indigent defense agency. He has taught courses on criminal justice, public policy, history, and law at Yale College, the New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York Law School, and George Washington University. He has a JD from the New York University School of Law, an MPA from the New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a BA in American Studies from Yale College. He is the author of But They All Come Back: Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry (Urban Institute Press, 2005), co-editor (with Christy Visher) of Prisoner Reentry and Crime in America (Cambridge University Press, 2005), and co-editor (with Michelle Waul) of Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities (Urban Institute Press, 2003).  He has published numerous book chapters, articles, and monographs on constitutional law, criminal law, and criminal justice policy.

Bettina Muenster Coordinator of Research and Special Projects, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

In the past, Bettina has worked part time as Research Assistant for the Center for Court Innovation, conducted research under the supervision of JJC Presidential Scholar Scott Atran, and as Research Assistant for Charles B. Strozier, Director of the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College. Presently, Muenster is pursuing a second MAin Applied Social Research at Hunter College. In June 2006, she graduated from John Jay College with a BA/MA degree in Forensic Psychology and an Advanced Certificate in Terrorism Studies. In late 2003, Muenster led a team of three other students in conducting a research project examining perceptions of safety after the 9/11 terror attacks, which the four students subsequently presented at the International Conference on Criminal Justice in Romania in June 2004. Upon graduation, Muenster won the Arthur and Elaine Niederhoffer Undergraduate Prize in 2006 for her thesis Humiliation, Shame and Aggression: The Role of Humiliation and Shame in the Genesis and Perpetuation of Politically Motivated Violence. Based on her thesis topic, Ms. Muenster contributed a chapter on the social psychology of fundamentalism in the 2009 book The Fundamentalist Mindset. Top ^

Project Staff - Vera Institute of Justice

Vedan Anthony-North, Program Analyst, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Vedan Anthony-North joined Vera in 2013. As a program analyst, Anthony-North primarily assists with the center’s work on reducing the overuse of jails in local criminal justice systems across the country. She also works on the International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange, and the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative. Prior to joining Vera, Anthony-North worked for Progressive Pupil, an organization dedicated to improving access to Africana studies through the use of digital media; interned with the International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy, helping recently arrived refugee teenagers adjust to the New York City public school system; and volunteered with Books through Bars, a collective that works to provide prisoners with access to education by matching their requests with donated books. Vedan holds a BA  in English from Barnard College. She joined Vera in 2013 as center coordinator.

Mary Crowley, Director of Communications, Vera Institute of Justice

Mary Crowley joined Vera in 2012. A member of its leadership team, she leads Vera’s strategic communications efforts, including public affairs and communications initiatives, government affairs, media outreach and press relations, social media and online presence, public events, and its editorial department. At Vera, she developed and led Justice in Transition, a series of briefings tied to the 2014 mayoral transition in New York City, and Justice in Focus: Crime Bill @ 20, a multimedia initiative featuring three dozen thought leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Mike Lee and Barbara Mikulski, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, and others, examining the legacy of the 1994 Crime Bill and a path forward. Prior to Vera, she established and led a public affairs and communications department at The Hastings Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan bioethics research and policy institute. There, she launched a number of national initiatives, established a Washington, DC policy office, and co-produced an award-winning public television documentary. Crowley holds a BA from Barnard College.

Libbie Love, Office Manager, Washington, DC Office

Libbie Love manages Vera’s office in Washington, DC and is providing administrative and logistical support for the International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange project. For the past 25 years, Love has been active in progressive organizations and causes. In her own right, Love has served as a lay leader, spokesperson, community organizer, and volunteer. She is a native of Mississippi, where she spent most of her life working as a counselor and assisting young people in achieving their full potential in a democratic society. She has worked alongside civil rights legend Bob Moses as a consultant with the Algebra Project, making math literacy a civil rights issue. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Mississippi and a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity. She is currently working on a PhD in Social Work at Howard University.

Ryan Shanahan, Research Director, Center on Youth Justice

Ryan Shanahan started at Vera in the Family Justice Program working with corrections departments, juvenile justice agencies, and faith and community-based organizations to support them in adopting family-focused and strength-based approaches to their work. Shanahan joined the Center on Youth Justice in 2014, bringing with her a focus on collaborative research to ensure the people most affected by justice research have a voice in the process. Shanahan's research interests are at the intersection of the justice system and social identity—specifically race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. Her areas of expertise are conducting research in prisons on family engagement with LGBTQ youth and with youth involved in street prostitution. Shanahan holds a BA from the University of Connecticut and an MA and PhD in women's studies from the University of Maryland.

Ram Subramanian, Director of Publications, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Ram Subramanian joined Vera in 2010 and is the director of the International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange. At Vera, Subramanian was part of a team that provided technical assistance to Delaware and Louisiana, as part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Justice Reinvestment Initiative, and was the director of the European-American Prison Project. Currently, Subramanian oversees all Center publications, and has been the lead researcher and author on many of them. He is also leading a pilot project assisting the Johnson County (Kansas) Department of Corrections in implementing a sexual assault response team at their adult residential and juvenile detention centers. He is a regular contributor on Vera’s blog, writing about criminal justice and corrections issues in the United States, Europe, and Southern Africa. Before joining Vera, Subramanian was a lawyer who worked for many years on issues of democracy, judicial independence, sexual and other kinds of political violence, and on human rights issues more broadly in Zimbabwe and South Africa. He has an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University, a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and a JD from University of Melbourne Law School.

Nicholas Turner, President, Vera Institute of Justice

Nick Turner joined Vera as its fifth president and director in August 2013. He came to Vera from The Rockefeller Foundation, where he was a managing director. As a member of the Rockefeller Foundation’s senior leadership team and co-lead­er of its global urban efforts, Turner worked on transportation policy reform in the U.S. and redevelop­ment in New Orleans to advance racial and socioeconomic interests. Turner previously served as vice president and chief program officer at Vera. Prior to his work with Vera, he was an associate in the litigation department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York and a judicial clerk for the Honorable Jack. B. Weinstein, Senior United States District Judge in Brooklyn. Before attending law school, Turner worked with court-involved, homeless, and troubled young people at Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a Washington, DC youth services organization. He has served on the boards of National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Living Cities, and the Center for Working Families In 2015, he joined the advisory board of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, President Obama’s new organization. He received his BA from Yale College and his JD from Yale Law School. 

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Sentencing and Prison Practices in Germany and the Netherlands: Implications for the United States
October 31, 2013
By Alison Shames • Ram Submaranian 

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.



Drug War Détente? A Review of State-level Drug Law Reform, 2009-2013
April 17, 2014
Ram Subramanian • Rebecka Moreno

Since 2009, more than 30 states have reformed existing drug laws and sentencing practices, passing nearly 50 bills in one or a combination of the following five areas: 1) mandatory penalties, 2) drug sentencing schemes, 3) early release mechanisms, 4) community-based sanctions, and 5) collateral consequences. In this report, Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections summarizes each state-level legislative change.



Playbook for Change? States Reconsider Mandatory Sentences
February 11, 2014
Ram Subramanian • Ruth Delaney

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.



Relief in Sight? States Rethink the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction, 2009 - 2014
December 22, 2014
Ram Subramanian • Rebecka Moreno • and Sophia Gebreselassie

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.





Is solitary confinement necessary?

June 29, 2015
By Christine Herrman

Christine HerrmanI was particularly looking forward to learning about the use of solitary confinement in Germany. I knew that segregation is very seldom used there, but I wanted to know the answer to the big question: So what do they do instead?... MORE »


Dispatches from Germany: A breath of fresh air

June 18, 2015
By Ryan Shanahan

Ryan ShanahanIt may sound like a small detail, but during the first of five days visiting German prisons, I was struck by the smell of fresh air. ... MORE »


What we hope to learn from European Prisons

June 11, 2015
By Mary Crowley

Mary CrowleyThe statistics by now are numbingly familiar. A quarter of the world’s population behind bars is in the United States—though we comprise but five percent of the world’s population. There is a broad boundary-busting movement to change this reality—it’s bipartisan... MORE »


March 17, 2015
By Alison Shames and Ram Submaranian 

alison shamesFor more years than we care to remember, politicians had just one choice when it came to criminal justice issues: they had to be “tough on crime.” The “faces” of that tough-on-crime era included both criminals... MORE »



In the News

The New York Times (Opinion), "What We Learned From German Prisons"

August 6, 2015

This op-ed by Nicholas Turner and Jeremy Travis descibes what the delegation saw while visiting Germany, and how the priniciples of human dignity that inform their practices could be applied to justice reform in the U.S. 



Associated Press, "Malloy enacts law to help nonviolent criminals reintegrate"

July 9, 2015

This article describes Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy's bill signing of new criminal justice reform legislation, where he mentioned what he learned about alternative reentry practices during his recent trip to Germany with the International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange.




The Marshall Project, "The Stiff Competition to Work in German Prisons"

By Maurice Chammah
June 22, 2015

In his fifth dispatch from Germany as part of Vera's International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange, The Marshall Project's Maurice Chammah explores how Germany hires and trains its corrections officers. 



The Marshall Project, "How Germany Treats Juveniles"

By Maurice Chammah
June 19, 2015

In his fourth dispatch from Germany as part of Vera's International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange, The Marshall Project's Maurice Chammah explores how Germany incarcerates juveniles, defined there as people ages 19 to 25, and focuses on rehabilitation and therapy, not punishment. 



The Marshall Project, "Can German Prisons Teach America how to Handle Its Most Violent Criminals?"

By Maurice Chammah
June 18, 2015

In his third installment from Germany, The Marshall Project's Maurice Chammah explores "preventative detention," a practice where incarcerated people deemed a risk to public safety are confined after their sentence has ended. They receive individualized therapy and are granted greater freedom than people incarcerated in regular confinement.



The Marshall Project, "Germany's Kinder, Gentler, Safer Prisons: Blank stares and culture shock. How Germany does prison, day two."

By Maurice Chammah
June 17, 2015

In Maurice Chammah's second installment from Germany, he describes some of the differences between conditions of confinement in the U.S. and Germany. He also speaks to several members of the delegation about how they view U.S. incarceration practices in comparison to the German system.



The Marshall Project, "How Germany Does Prison"

By Maurice Chammah
June 16, 2015

First installment from Maurice Chammah of the The Marshall Project, as he joins Vera and John Jay College of Criminal Justice on a tour of German Prisons. The International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange, as this tour is being called, includes the heads of the prison systems for New Mexico, Washington, Tennessee, and Connecticut, several district attorneys, and Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy.



The New York Times, "Lessons from European Prisons"

By The New York Times Editorial Board 
April 10, 2015

This New York Times editorial examines Sentencing and Prison Practices in Germany and the Netherlands: Implications for the United Statesa report issued by Vera's Center on Sentencing and Corrections, and what lessons the American sentencing and penal systems can take from their European counterparts. The editorial also identifies several states that are reforming their solitary confinement practices and investing in specialized drug and mental health courts. (Op-ed), "Treating Prisoners With Dignity Can Reduce Crime"

By Nicholas Turner and John Wetzel
May 22, 2014

Vera President Nick Turner and John Wetzel, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, explore the lessons learned from German and Dutch prisons during Vera's European-American Prison Project in an op-ed published by National Journal's The Next America. The piece examines the implications of those lessons, how Pennsylvania has taken action, and some strategies for reducing reoffending to creater stronger people and stronger and safer communities.



Huffington Post, "What The U.S. Can Learn From Prison Reform Efforts Throughout The World"

April 10, 2015 

This article compares the incarceration and sentencing policies of different nations to those in the U.S. The author cites Vera's Price of Prisons report when highlighting the steep cost of Norways's incarceration costs per inmate, and Vera's European-American Prison Project when examining conditions of confinement in Germany and the Netherlands. The article also includes an excerpt from Vera President Nicholas Turner's op-ed in the National Journal., "Can Europe Offer the U.S. a Model for Prison Reform?"

June 19, 2014

This piece on the differences between European and American incarceration philosophies explores system reforms in Colorado and Pennsylvania that reflect European models. The op-ed co-written by Vera President and Director Nick Turner and Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel is cited, as is Vera's European-American Prison Project which was conceived and funded by the California-based Prison Law Office



Business Insider, "6 Reasons Why Prison Is Better In Europe Than America"

May 30, 2014

This piece draws on Vera's European-American Prison Project and a recent op-ed co-authored by Vera President Nick Turner to highlight what American prisons officials could learn from their European counterparts., "Incarceration and Recidivism: Lessons from Abroad"

March 31, 2014

Vera's Price of Prisons report and European-American Prison Project are cited in this article comparing incarceration and recidivism rates in the U.S. to those of other nations. The piece also looks at what lessons the U.S. can learn from other countries on this subject.