Homer Venters has been inspecting prisons, jails, and ICE detention centers for COVID-compliance almost since the start of the pandemic. The former chief medical officer for New York City jails says what were already substandard health systems and abusive environments have deteriorated sharply. Any fix to health care behind bars, he says, has to start with listening to the people these facilities have worked to silence: those with lived experience of the conditions.
The threat of incarceration has long been seen in some quarters as the best incentive to ensure people’s engagement in court-ordered treatment. But what if that assumption is wrong? This research brief argues the central element governing the effectiveness of treatment is the quality of the human interaction that accompanies it.
Rachel Barkow contends criminal justice policy is a “prisoner of politics,” driven by appeals to voters’ worst instincts and an aversion to evidence of what actually works. In her new book, the NYU law professor makes a provocative case for “freeing” criminal justice from the political imperative in order to achieve real reform.
Rachael Rollins says she has seen the criminal justice system from "almost every angle." Now, as Boston's first female African-American district attorney, she's setting the agenda. On New Thinking, she explains her approach of "services not sentences" as a response to low-level "crimes of poverty" and the urgency of changing the traditional role of the prosecutor.
How effective is therapy or treatment when it's used instead of incarceration, and what are the challenges to conducting it inside the coercive context of the criminal justice system? New Thinking host Matt Watkins is joined by clinical psychologist Jacob Ham who works with justice-involved young people affected by trauma, and John Jay College's Deborah Koetzle who evaluates programs aiming to help participants rebuild lives outside of the justice system.
This report details the design, implementation, and impacts of Up & Out, a brief, non-custodial intervention to help misdemeanor defendants critically consider ways to avoid future justice-involvement. The intention of the program is to offer a meaningful, proportionate alternative to short-term incarceration. Research suggests this population has a strong propensity to repeat justice-involvement fueled by needs for treatment and services in areas such as housing, substance use, and mental health.
Who gets to decide which reforms to the criminal justice system receive the imprimatur of "evidence-based"? To combat what she sees as the monopoly over these decisions created by the high cost of the current evaluation model, Angela Hawken founded BetaGov, offering free and fast evaluations of public policy programs. What is more, as Hawken explains on our New Thinking podcast, the ideas tested generally come from practitioners, or even clients, inside the systems themselves.
A brief assessment tool designed for high-volume criminal justice environments is a strong predictor of recidivism as administered to pretrial defendants in New York City, according to this comprehensive validation study. Unlike many such tools, the Criminal Court Assessment Tool, developed by the Center for Court Innovation, identifies a defendant's risk of re-offending and also ascertains the needs potentially fueling criminal behavior, facilitating referrals to effective interventions.
This study examines 16 programs seeking to divert cases out of the criminal justice system finding significant reductions in the probability of a conviction, jail sentence, and future re-arrest, along with sizable savings in costs and resources.