A common-sensical vision of criminal-justice reform. —The New York Times
Everyone knows that the United States leads the world in incarceration, and that our political process is gridlocked. But what can be done right now to reduce the number of people sent to jail and prison? Nominated for the 2018 Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice, this essential book from the New Press offers a concrete road map for professionals and general readers alike who want to move from analysis to action. Written by Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation, and Julian Adler, the Center's director of policy and research, this forward-looking book highlights key lessons from successful programs across the country—engaging the public in preventing crime, treating all defendants with dignity and respect, and linking people to effective community-based interventions rather than locking them up. Along the way, the authors tell a series of gripping stories, highlighting gang members who have gotten their lives back on track, judges who are transforming their courtrooms, and reformers around the country who are rethinking what justice looks like.
While Start Here offers no silver bullets, it does put forth a suite of proven reforms—from alternatives to bail to diversion programs for mentally ill defendants—that will improve the lives of thousands of people right now.
Start Here is a must-read for everyone who wants to start dismantling mass incarceration without waiting for a revolution or permission.
- Listen to Judge Victoria Pratt, who helped launch our Newark Community Solutions, and co-author Julian Adler on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
- Read an edited excerpt of the book exploring the lessons from Georgia's recent efforts to curb its prison growth.
- Read an op-ed from the authors making the case for "radical incrementalism."
- Listen to a podcast interview with the authors from the New Books Network.
- Read an op-ed outlining lessons from New York City's success in reducing crime and incarceration.
- Listen to co-author Julian Adler on the Decarceration Nation podcast.
Proceeds from sales of the book will support the Center for Court Innovation’s reform efforts.
The challenges for reducing mass incarceration are complicated and nuanced, and Berman and Adler offer a smoothly written survey of the background conditions and the responses that different jurisdictions and advocacy groups are trying.
— Los Angeles Review of Books
Through a series of captivating stories, the book offers proven reforms that will start to dismantle mass incarceration while rethinking what justice looks like.
[Berman and Adler] contribute not only valuable critiques of the rise of mass incarceration but also helpful instruction about how to counter and reduce its presence on the American penal landscape.
— Journal of Community Corrections
An urgent and timely primer.
— Brooklyn Eagle
A clearly written, optimistic road map for moving beyond mass incarceration... [Berman and Adler’s] case studies are well-researched and derived from activism and scholarship as well as the rehabilitative experiences of offenders, but their perspective remains realistic… A brisk, thoughtful guide to mass incarceration alternatives.
Though they focus primarily on solutions, Berman and Adler discuss in detail the long-term damage of incarceration on individuals and communities. By highlighting judicial and programmatic approaches in clear, engaging chapters, the authors convincingly argue for urgent, decisive attention to reforms across the U.S.
Start Here is a must-read for anyone who is ready to stop talking and start doing something about the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States. The ideas in this book have the power to change—and even transform—long-entrenched practices and institutions. If you want to learn how to create a better justice system, start here!
— Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge of New York State
Mass incarceration is one of the great civil rights issues of our time and demands the utmost attention and action. Building on lessons learned right here in New York City, Start Here details the problem of mass incarceration and offers a road map on how to improve criminal justice systems and engage in urgently-needed reforms around the country.
— Melissa Mark-Viverito, former speaker of the New York City Council
Start Here is that rare book that cuts through the rhetorical fog about the broken criminal justice system in the United States to illuminate a realistic path forward. It is bold. It is also grounded in reality. Books like Start Here don’t come around nearly enough. Read it, perhaps read it a second time, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work.
— Herb Sturz, founding director of the Vera Institute of Justice
The end of mass incarceration can’t come soon enough. This well-written book may help get us there. Greg Berman and Julian Adler offer a practical guide for how we might begin to forge a new approach to criminal justice that is both more humane and more effective.
— Vincent Schiraldi, senior research scientist at Columbia University
What shines about this book is the humanity of the task ahead. Start Here will leave readers inspired with hope and imbued with confidence for the reform agenda confronting us.
— Todd Clear, professor at Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice
Criminal justice reform is such a timely task, and Berman and Adler do more than provide a guide. They provide an accessible, concise and cogent map for criminal justice transformation based on the simple idea that everyone must be treated with dignity and respect.
— Tracey Meares, professor at Yale Law School