We encourage you to explore Vera's extensive resource library, built up by decades of expert research, analysis, and real-world application. Vera produces a wide variety of resources about our work, including publications, podcasts, and videos, dating from our founding in 1961 to the present. You can search these resources using the filters below to sort by type of resource, project, or topic. Enter part of the title in the search box to look for a specific resource. 

from the INCARCERATION TRENDS project

The Incarceration Trends project features an new interactive data tool—available at trends.vera.org—that collates and analyzes publically available, but disparately located, data about incarceration. This tool can be used for reference and measurement by justice system stakeholders and others looking to understand how their jail is being used, how it compares with others, and spot problem areas—such as excessive growth or racial or ethnic disparities. As part of the project, Vera also published a report summarizing the major findings of a historical analysis, using the tool, of American jails.

Report

 

Latest Resources

02/11/2015

Local jails, which exist in nearly every town and city in America, are built to hold people deemed too dangerous to release pending trial or at high risk of flight. This, however, is no longer primarily what jails do or whom they hold, as people too poor to post bail languish there and racial disparities disproportionately impact communities of color. This report reviews existing research and data to take a deeper look at our nation’s misuse of local jails and to determine how we arrived at this point. It also highlights jurisdictions that have taken steps to mitigate negative consequences, all with the aim of informing local policymakers and their constituents who are interested in reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and promoting stronger, healthier communities.

 

A new initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

 

12/23/2014

Throughout the justice field, demand is growing for cost-benefit analysis (CBA), an economic tool that compares the costs of programs or policies with the benefits they produce. Although there is no one-size-fits-all template for conducting a CBA, analysts and researchers must follow a common methodology, or series of steps. This toolkit guides users through these steps and provides examples of Vera’s recent work advising six justice agencies that were either starting or enhancing their CBA efforts. 

10/21/2014
Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit convened a working group of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers with expertise in law enforcement and public safety technologies to discuss how public safety agencies use cost-benefit analysis (CBA) as a tool to inform budgetary decisions about the use of public safety technologies (PST)—such as DNA databases or risk-assessment tools. Input from the working group helped shape this report, which helps readers understand the intersection of CBA and PST, how CBA can be best applied to PSTs, and the challenges of using CBA to as a decision-making tool for PSTs. The report was written to help guide researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who are facing the same issues of determining the relative costs and benefits of adapting certain PSTs in their agencies.
04/10/2014

The Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB), a project of Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit, convened a working group of researchers and policymakers to help advance the use of rigorous cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in decisions about criminal justice programs and policies. Input from the working group helped shape this white paper, which helps readers know what to look for in a justice-related CBA, understand what cost-benefit results mean, and use those results to inform their decisions.

The paper was written for a broad range of readers, including elected officials and their staff; policymakers; corrections, community corrections, court, and law enforcement personnel; service providers; and journalists.

See also the related white paper, Advancing the Quality of Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Programs, which discusses cost-benefit methods and is intended for anyone who conducts, plans to conduct, or wants to learn how to conduct a CBA of a justice-related policy or program.

03/27/2014

Like other government agencies, police departments are under great pressure to get the biggest return possible when investing taxpayers’ dollars in justice programs and policies. The Law Enforcement Forecasting Group of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance asked Vera to develop a resource to help police departments address questions about spending on crime analysts—and about justifying that spending. As part of its Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice, Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit staff created this paper, which law enforcement agencies can use as they weigh their options on staffing and programs.

03/05/2014

The Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB), a project of Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit, convened a working group of researchers and policymakers to help advance the use of rigorous cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in decisions about criminal justice programs and policies. Input from the working group helped shape this white paper, which describes and discusses the main methodological challenges to performing CBAs of justice investments. This technical paper is intended for anyone who conducts, plans to conduct, or wants to learn how to conduct a CBA of a justice-related policy or program. CBKB has also published a second white paper for a broader audience, Using Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Policymaking, which was also developed with guidance from the working group.

05/02/2013

The costs and benefits of criminal justice policies and activities affect everyone. Understanding what goes into the costs of operating jails, prisons, probation and parole, courts, law enforcement agencies, treatment programs, and other segments of the criminal justice system is important for taxpayers, politicians, practitioners, and society as a whole.

Any economic study of a justice-related investment needs to use the right cost information in its calculations. The type of cost used makes a difference in the accuracy of a study’s findings, as well as its relevance for policymaking, budgeting, and practice. Vera’s Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice has published this guide to help technical users and general readers understand marginal cost—the amount of change in total cost when a unit of output changes.

04/26/2013

As state and local budgets have become increasingly strained in recent years, interest in using cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in criminal justice policymaking and planning has grown. Although reliable information on costs and benefits can help guide budget officials, policymakers, and legislators, most jurisdictions have not been able to create a sustained capacity to either conduct cost-benefit studies or use their results. The Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank, a project of Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit, convened a roundtable discussion to examine the factors that might help agencies draw on CBA in a lasting, meaningful way. In the daylong meeting, people from state policy entities and nonprofit organizations, along with elected officials from four states, discussed strategies for building CBA capacity. This publication covers three areas to consider as part of that objective: organizations, staff, and making CBA part of ongoing processes.

02/12/2013

This is Part 1 of a training that explains how to conduct a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in justice policy. The training is led by economist Michael Wilson, who worked with the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and is former director of the state's Statistical Analysis Center. Part 1 provides a detailed overview of CBA in criminal justice; explains the economics of incarceration; discusses cost estimates, probabilities of criminal justice resource use, and sentencing distributions; and defines effect size.

02/11/2013

This is Part 2 of a training that provides practical resources to meet the growing demand for cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in justice policy. The training is led by economist Michael Wilson, who worked with the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and is former director of the state's Statistical Analysis Center. Part 2 provides an exercise that estimates the costs of crime and a review of a CBA. It also discusses how to use CBA in decision making.

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