Equitas National Advisor Rick Raemisch Reduced Solitary Confinement in Colorado by 98%. He’s Just Been Named Public Official of the Year.

Governing Magazine this year recognized Equitas National Advisor and Colorado Department of Corrections Director for ending the overuse of solitary confinement in the state. Some say it’s like being buried alive. The walls close in on you. And though you’re often alone for years, sometimes decades at a time, if you face a mental illness with accompanying hallucinations, you’re left …

Jailing people with mental illness is a national problem. The solutions are local.

There are countless problems in this world that lack ready solutions. Jailing so many people with mental illness is not one of them. While it’s a national problem, addressing mental illness in America’s jails requires local people finding on-the-ground solutions. Progress requires teamwork among judges, police, sheriffs, mental health workers, probation officers and others who affect the lives of people …

Coordination and Communication are Key to Improving Mental Health and Criminal Justice in America

Mental health and criminal justice are a tangled mess in communities all across the country. Rather than supporting health from childhood through old age, our social systems show hardly any signs of understanding mental health at all. We don’t systematically recognize or have the capacity to respond to early indications for concern, and instead rely upon law enforcement to intervene …

Brenda Siegel: For-profit prisons are modern day slavery

A “for profit” or “private” prison, as evident in the name, is designed to make a profit. What are they profiting on? People. They are profiting on the buying and selling of human beings. They have motivation to keep their costs low, cut corners and not follow regulations to increase their profit. They also have great incentive to keep prisoners …

PODCAST: How to reduce the U.S. prison population by nearly half

Editor’s note: Knowledge Applied is a new podcast from the University of Chicago News Office. Each of its five episodes will take listeners inside the research of UChicago scholars helping reshape everyday life while tackling some of the biggest questions facing cities today. Matt Epperson, associate professor in the School of Social Service Administration, has seen the failures of mass incarceration first hand. For …

Restorative Justice Repairing Harms, Reducing Incarceration in Colorado

(In Colorado), local restorative justice activists and policymakers work to reduce recidivism rates and repair harms to the community. Restorative justice is finding community solutions to criminal acts by bringing the offenders, victims, and community into a discussion of retribution and rehabilitation instead of punishment. Retribution and solution—rather than punishment—facilitates relationship repair, which decreases recidivism rates and makes communities safer. …

Law-Enforcement Unions Have Too Much Power: In serving the interests of cops and prison guards, they hinder criminal-justice reform and encourage irresponsible public spending

“Take prison guards,” says John Pfaff, a professor at Fordham Law School who researches criminal justice. “They’re always going to fight efforts to decarcerate, because if you start emptying out prisons, you’re going to get demands to close facilities.” Providing subsidies to states that decarcerate in order to help prison guards find work is “the kind of thing the federal …

Ignoring rural areas won’t solve America’s mass incarceration problem

Unlike prisons, jails exist in nearly every county in America and are under local control. Designed to only hold people for a short time and when absolutely necessary, jails have become massive warehouses — particularly for those too poor or sick to disentangle themselves from the justice system. Ending mass incarceration demands a shift in resources and attention. We need to …

GO-TIME: Corrections On Course To Save Over $35 Million On Inmate Care Through Federal, State Partnerships

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has reduced medical costs for inmates by $14.5 million over the past two years – while maintaining or improving care – by leveraging federal and state programs and innovative partnerships, according to the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency (GO-TIME). The department estimates an additional $20.5 million in savings over the next …

Prison Sentences Shouldn’t Be Death Sentences: How To Fix Correctional Health Care

England’s correctional health care system offers three key lessons for the US correctional health care system. First, correctional health care should be integrated into the general health care system to ensure that all providers are subject to the same high standards. Second, the government should publish a set of evidence-based guidelines for both private and public correctional health care. Third, …