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|from the INCARCERATION TRENDS project|
Guided by research indicating that community-based alternatives are often more effective and less expensive and stigmatizing than placing juvenile offenders in institutional facilities, New York City has worked to reduce over-reliance on such dispositions and to ensure that those youth that may be placed in an institutional facility are in one near their communities to foster familial and educational connections. This brief describes the impetus and context of a series of related and ambitious strategies undertaken in 2012 under the Close to Home initiative, provides detailed information on each of the reform areas and the improvements seen to date, and concludes with a discussion of challenges and next steps.
When New York City began reforming its juvenile detention system in 2006, youth were either sent to detention or released into the community with no formal supervision. The reform effort had the complementary goals of ensuring that costly juvenile detention beds would be reserved primarily for young people who present measurably high levels of risk, and that others would be released or properly supervised at home and in their communities while their cases were pending. This report begins by describing the impetus and context for these innovations and reforms and then provides detailed information on their structure, strengths, challenges, and necessary next steps.
Zero tolerance discipline policies that mandate suspension or expulsion of students for misconduct have gained tremendous momentum over the past 25 years while also inviting deep controversy. With A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice looks at existing research about whether zero tolerance discipline policies make schools more orderly or safe, if out-of-school suspension or expulsion leads to greater involvement in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, and what effect these policies can have on a young person’s future. It concludes that, a generation after the rise of these policies and practices, neither schools nor young people have benefited. Fortunately, as described in the report, promising alternatives to zero tolerance can safely keep young people where they belong—in school.
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.
In the summer of 2013, the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) and the Vera Institute of Justice conducted an informal nationwide online survey of 1,226 state and local criminal justice stakeholder organizations. The questionnaire’s purpose was to gather information from a wide range of jurisdictions about the impact of budget cuts, both already enacted and anticipated. This document is a summary of self-reported responses.
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.
What is the impact of stop and frisk on young people in highly patrolled areas of New York City, and what does it mean for public safety? Find out in this video as lead authors, Jennifer Fratello and Andrés F. Rengifo, discuss the results of their study "Coming of Age with Stop and Frisk: Experiences, Self-Perceptions, and Public Safety Implications."
Jamie Fader, assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany and author of Falling Back: Incarceration and Transitions to Adulthood among Urban Youth, discusses her research on incarcerated young men of color and the disjuncture between their aspirations at the point of release from a residential facility and the structural hurdles and realities they face upon returning home to family and community in an urban setting.
This interview is part of Vera's Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series.
Amid the debate about stop and frisk in New York City, its relationship to reductions in crime, and concerns about racial profiling, one question has gone largely unexplored: How does being stopped by police, and the frequency of those stops, affect those who experience them at a young age? In New York City, at least half of all recorded stops annually involve those between the ages of 13 and 25.
This new study from Vera’s Center on Youth Justice examines this question. The results reveal a great deal about the experiences and perceptions of young New Yorkers who are most likely to be stopped. Trust in law enforcement among these young people is alarmingly low. This has significant public safety implications as young people who have been stopped more often are less willing to report crimes, even when they themselves are the victims. The report includes a set of recommendations aimed at restoring trust and improving police-community relations. It also features an infographic summarizing the findings.
More than 700,000 people leave U.S. prisons each year, mostly returning to poor communities in urban areas. In this podcast, Bruce Western discusses early findings from his Boston Reentry Study that show prison precipitates a transition to severe poverty for a fragile population with often-traumatic histories of childhood exposure to violence.
Bruce Western is professor of sociology and director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Western's recent work has focused on the link between social inequality and the growth of prison and jail population in the United States.
This podcast is part of the Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series.