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 …

In Billerica, Young Prisoners Give Freedom A Trial Run

At Middlesex House of Corrections in Massachusetts, the P.A.C.T. unit, which stands for People Achieving Change Together, opened in February, 2018. P.A.C.T. was born out of a collaboration between Middlesex County and the Vera Institute of Justice, a non-profit research group based in New York City. The premise of the unit is to reflect life on the outside. Inmates there …

A CRIMINAL PAST, AN UNWRITTEN FUTURE|

Their message to these young men was simple: “You may be locked up, but your mind can still be free.” Over time, what started as a book club transformed into a robust operation that supports D.C. men from the day they are arrested to the day they come home and beyond. “They helped me change my whole mindset of going …

Commentary: The Recidivism Trap

Recidivism is the reoccurrence of crime among people known to have committed crimes before. At all levels of justice, from local probation offices to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, if we judge the impact of interventions at all, we do so in part by measuring recidivism. In a report John Jay College published today with the Harvard Kennedy School, they conclude that …

Opinion: Turn Prisons Into Colleges

While racial disparities in arrests and convictions are alarming, education level is a far stronger predictor of future incarceration than race. Today, only a third of all prisons provide ways for incarcerated people to continue their educations beyond high school. The idea of expanding educational opportunities to prisoners as a way to reduce recidivism and government spending has again gained …

How to Employ the Formerly Incarcerated to Help Grow Your Business

Our biggest fear for the economy is that we essentially run out of labor. To gauge the importance, look at the numbers: over 2 million incarcerated, 4.8 million currently on parole or probation, 19 million with a felony conviction on their record, 70 million with some kind of past interaction with the law. Put those numbers against the reality that, …

What It’s Like to Get Clemency — One Year Later

Over the last few months I’ve been meeting Obama’s clemency recipients for Nation of Second Chances, a photojournalism series that captures their stories. Through it, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people like Michelle Miles, Keldren Joshua, Jason Hernandez and Israel Torres, who were released thanks to Obama and are making the most of their second chance. These are not …

Diversion Programs Are Cheaper and More Effective Than Incarceration. Prosecutors Should Embrace Them.

When it comes to reducing mass incarceration, some solutions are actually staring us right in the face. By targeting the underlying problems that led to the crime in the first place, effective diversion programs can improve long-term community safety and reduce recidivism far more effectively than warehousing someone in a prison cell before turning them back onto the streets. Read the full …

Fact Sheet – Barriers to Successful Re-Entry of Formerly Incarcerated People

Every year, nearly 700,000 people are released from American prisons, and an estimated 9 million are released from jail. According to the National Institute of Justice, almost two-thirds of them are arrested again within three years. Once released, formerly incarcerated people face a myriad of barriers to successfully re-entering society. They are not allowed to vote, have little access to …