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|
In 2005, New Orleans detained more people in its local jail per capita than any other urban jurisdiction in the country. The jail—designed to hold people too great a risk to be released pretrial—was actually used to detain thousands of people too poor to pay a financial bond, with dramatic human and financial consequences. In the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans officials and community leaders have begun to depart from this legacy of over incarceration, leading to a 70 percent reduction in New Orleans’s jail population. This report documents the groundbreaking reforms that the City of New Orleans has engaged in to safely decrease its use of detention, from reducing the physical size of its jail to implementing risk-based pretrial release practices. This text was originally published by the Data Center as part of a series of essays about New Orleans’s progress since Hurricane Katrina.
Close to one in five people detained in the New Orleans jail are waiting for a court date to resolve alleged violations of their probation or parole. Such detention affects more than 2,000 people a year and costs millions of dollars to taxpayers. Vera’s New Orleans office analyzed data from the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections to scrutinize the appropriateness of detention in these cases.
This issue brief and technical report, developed in partnership with DPS&C, measure the number of affected people, identify areas where detention could have been safely avoided, and recommend concrete practice changes to reduce detention where appropriate. The report provides concrete tools for system actors who make detention decisions and informs ongoing discussions about the size of the New Orleans jail population and the appropriate use of the city’s jail. The Issue Brief distills the report’s analysis and recommendations and places them in a national framework.
Attention is increasingly being paid to the disparities young men of color face in our society, including their disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice system as those responsible for crime. Little recognition, however, is given to the fact that young men of color are also disproportionately victims of crime and violence.
Vera convened a panel of experts to discuss the disparities in our response to violence, which included Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Representative, Eight Congressional District of New York, and Kenneth Thompson, District Attorney, Brooklyn, Dr. Richard Dudley, Psychiatrist, New York City, and Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear, Professor of Applied Theology, Howard University School of Divinity. The panel was moderated by Kirsten Levingston, Program Officer, at the Ford Foundation.
For more information about addressing disparities in our response to violence, please download our issue brief.
The numbers of blacks and Latinos involved in the U.S. criminal justice system is disproportionate to their numbers in the general population nationwide. These disparities in criminal case outcomes have increasingly caught the attention of scholars, journalists, and justice advocates, just as they have vexed prosecutors around the country. Vera’s Prosecution and Racial Justice Program (PRJ) published this guide to help prosecutors examine whether the broad discretionary power they wield in case-processing decisions affects racially disparate outcomes. The guide, based on PRJ’s nine years of experience as research partner with a number of district attorneys, is designed to aid prosecutors seeking to conduct research into their offices’ work and address any problems contributing to racial disparity the research uncovers.
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.
Vera partnered with the District Attorney of New York to examine whether prosecutorial discretion contributes to racially and ethnically disparate outcomes in New York County criminal cases. In this video, Vera Research Director Jim Parsons discusses Race and Prosecution in New York County and its findings.
Learn more >
In order to ensure the integrity of the justice system, it is essential that case outcomes do not disproportionately affect members of certain racial and ethnic groups—and that any disparities be identified so solutions can be developed. To that end, Vera partnered with the District Attorney of New York on an NIJ-funded study examining racial and ethnic disparities in criminal case outcomes in Manhattan. The two-year study, which analyzed more than 200,000 cases, focused on the role of prosecutors during several points of a criminal case—case acceptance for prosecution, dismissals, pretrial detention, plea bargaining, and sentencing recommendations—and whether prosecutorial discretion contributes to racially and ethnically disparate outcomes. While the best predictors of case outcomes were factors that directly pertained to legal aspects of a case—including the seriousness of the charge, the defendant’s prior record, and the offense type—the research also found that race remained a factor in case outcomes.
In this issue of The Guardian Reporter, the newsletter of Vera's Guardianship Project:
- Hear from our former project director Laura Negrón as she reflects on her tenure at the project, and from our interim director Olga Perez discussing what lies ahead.
- Find out how the project's unique, multidisciplinary team model—combining expertise in legal advocacy, financial analysis, and case management—helped return a client to the hospital after his unauthorized discharge, setting the stage for a move to assisted living, and helped another client when the pipes in his house exploded.
- Read about collaborations undertaken by project staff recently, including learning about emergency preparedness from the Red Cross and hosting an art exhibit and reception on elder abuse.
- Learn about hoarding, and the challenges it poses to effective case management.
- Examine new data on the overwhelming cost of unnecessary nursing home institutionalization in New York State and the cost savings possible through helping clients return to the community.
- See recent news out of Nebraska, where state auditors discovered extreme guardianship exploitation, and find out about the new, statewide public guardianship system the Nebraska government created in response.
Young people who run away from home, skip school, or engage in other risky behaviors that are only prohibited because of their age end up in courtrooms every year by the thousands. Responding to these cases, called “status offenses,” in the juvenile justice system can lead to punitive outcomes that are out of proportion to the young person’s actions and do nothing to assess or address the underlying circumstances at the root of this misbehavior. With From Courts to Communities: The Right Response to Truancy, Running Away, and Other Status Offenses, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice, supported by funding from the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Resource Center Partnership, aims to raise awareness about status offenses and spur conversations about how to effectively handle these cases by offering promising examples of state and local reform.
Prosecuting attorneys enjoy exceptionally broad discretion in making decisions that influence criminal case outcomes. They make pivotal decisions throughout the life of a case with little public or judicial scrutiny. With support from the National Institute of Justice, the Vera Institute of Justice undertook research to better understand how prosecutors make decisions. Vera researchers combined statistical analyses with qualitative analyses, examining initial case screening and charging decisions, plea offers, sentence recommendations, and post-filing dismissals for multiple offense types in two moderately large prosecutors’ offices. In addition to a technical report, the study produced a summary report and four podcasts.
|> Technical report||> Interview with Don Stemen|
|> Summary report||> Interview with Anne J. Swern|
|> Fact Sheet||> Interview with Judge Theodore A. McKee|
|> Interview with Anthony C. Thompson|
This project was supported by Award No. 2009-IJ-CX-0040 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.