Category Archives: Corrections

Measures for Justice

Source: Measures for Justice (MFJ), 2017

Measuring justice, one county at a time.
Assessing and comparing the performance of the entire U.S. criminal justice system.

THE PROBLEM
No one really knows how well our entire criminal justice system is working on the county level.

THE SOLUTION
Measures for Justice gathers criminal justice data at the county level and uses them to populate performance Measures that address:
Public Safety, Fair Process, Fiscal Responsibility

The Measures track how criminal cases are being handled at the county level from arrest to post-conviction. They are designed to increase the transparency of local justice systems and enable more informed discussions.

All of our Measures and analyses present data at the county level and are available for free to the public on a web-based Data Portal. The Portal is searchable and can be configured to break down performance data across multiple factors including race/ethnicity, sex, indigent status, age, offense type, offense severity, court type, and attorney type. The Portal also allows for county-to-county comparison within and across states.

The Price of Prisons: Examining State Spending Trends, 2010 – 2015

Source: Chris Mai and Ram Subramanian, Vera Institute of Justice, May 2017

From the overview:
From the early 1970s into the new millennium, the U.S. prison population experienced unprecedented growth, which had a direct influence on state budgets. In recent years, however, lawmakers in nearly every state and from across the political spectrum have enacted new laws to reduce prison populations and spending. This report, which builds upon the information found in Vera’s 2012 publication The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers, found that 13 states were successful in reducing both population and spending. However, no single reason explains a rise or fall in spending; instead, a multitude of factors push and pull expenditures in different directions. Read the report and explore our interactive data visualization below to learn more.
Related:
Interactive Data Visualization
Fact Sheet

Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask

Source: Risë Haneberg, Dr. Tony Fabelo, Dr. Fred Osher, and Michael Thompson, Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails, sponsored by the National Association of Counties, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, January 2017

From the summary:
Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask serves as a blueprint for counties to assess their existing efforts to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in jail by considering specific questions and progress-tracking measures. The report also informs the initiative’s approach to technical assistance.

Here are the six questions county leaders need to ask:

Is your leadership committed?
Do you have timely screening and assessment?
Do you have baseline data?
Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
Do you track progress?

The negative impact of prison work on sleep health

Source: Lois James, Natalie Todak, Suzanne Best, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 60 no. 5, May 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives
To examine the prevalence of sleep disorders, deprivation, and quality in a sample of prison employees, and investigate the relationship between exposure to work-related critical incidents and sleep.

Methods
We surveyed 355 Washington State Department of Corrections employees. The survey included the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index and the Critical Incident History Questionnaire.

Results
We found 28% and 45% of the sample reported suffering from Apnea and insomnia, respectively. Over half of the sample reporting sleeping less than 2 h between shifts and being constantly fatigued. We found significant associations between exposure to critical incidents and sleep problems.

Conclusions
Prison workers are in desperate need of help to improve their sleep. Our findings suggest the importance of continued investigation of prison worker sleep health using objective measures, toward the development of programs for improving sleep and resilience to critical incidents and stress.

Medical Parole and Aging Prisoners: A Qualitative Study

Source: George Pro, Miesha Marzell, Journal of Correctional Health Care, Online First, First published March 30, 3017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The population of geriatric prisoners in the United States will reach unprecedented levels in the coming decades. Geriatric prisoners are at increased risk for deteriorating health and experience the onset of disease earlier than the aging population at large. Medical parole is an underutilized program that allows aging prisoners to transition to community-based health care. This article presents original key informant interview data and analysis of the perceptions of medical parole. Three dominant themes emerged: (1) drugs and nonviolent crimes; (2) politics, costs, and consequences; and (3) quality of health care and sense of security in prison. Participants rejected the possibility that medical care provided is below the clinical standard or is the cause of geriatric prisoners’ deteriorating health and consistently implied that medical care at this prison is better than most Americans receive. Participants perceived their careers more as contributions to public health than criminal justice.

Abolishing Immigration Prisons

Source: César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Boston University Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 245, 2017

From the abstract:
The United States has a long and inglorious history of coercive state practices of social control that are motivated, explicitly or implicitly, by race. From chattel slavery to modern incarceration, state actors have regularly marginalized, demonized, and exploited people racialized as nonwhite. Immigration imprisonment—the practice of confining people because of a suspected or confirmed immigration law violation—fits neatly into this ignoble tradition. The United States’ half million immigration prisoners, who are overwhelmingly Latino, were almost all pushed and pulled to leave their countries of origin in part by policies promoted or supported by the United States. Yet, once here, Latin American migrants are relegated to a legal system that treats them as confineable based merely on their status.

Even worse is that the practice of immigration imprisonment, as designed and operated, has stripped migrants of their inherent dignity as humans and has instead commodified them into a source of revenue. For immigration prisoners, the prison operates as a means of segregation and stigmatization: immigration prisoners are segregated from the political community and perceived to be dangerous. For other migrants who, for the time being at least, avoid imprisonment, the prison symbolizes the state’s brute power. For the vast network of interested parties who have invested deeply in immigration imprisonment, the prison marks the location of production. Paid according to the number of people locked up, private prisons and local governments profit from human bondage. Meanwhile, opportunistic politicians reap political rewards by pointing to barbed wire perimeters and sizeable prison populations as evidence of their efforts to protect the nation.

This Article is the first to argue that immigration imprisonment is inherently indefensible and should be abolished. The United States should instead adopt an alternative moral framework of migrants and migration that is grounded in history and attuned to human fallibility. Doing so will help discourage harmful immigration rhetoric steeped in myths of migrant criminality and will foster better understanding of migrants and their reasons for coming to the United States.

States Perform

Source: Council of State Governments, 2017

States Perform provides users with access to interactive, customizable and up-to-date comparative performance measurement data for 50 states in six key areas: fiscal and economic, public safety and justice, energy and environment, transportation, health and human services, and education. Compare performance across a few or all states, profile one state, view trends over time, and customize your results with graphs and maps.

What everyone should know about their state’s budget

Source: Urban Institute, 2017
[tool was funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation]

State and local governments educate schoolchildren, train the future workforce, care for the sick and elderly, build roads, patrol neighborhoods, extinguish fires, and maintain parks. In short, they’re pretty important. But few Americans understand where their state and local tax dollars go and to what effect. It’s not just the amount of money spent that matters, it’s why that money is spent the way it is.

Through this web tool, we aim to fill that knowledge gap. The tool allows users to get under the hood of their government and understand not only how much a state spends but also what drives that spending.

To do this, we apply a basic framework to all major areas of government spending. The framework says that state spending per capita is both a function of how many people receive a service and how much that service costs the state for each recipient. ….

…In this tool, you’ll see the spending per capita breakdown for all states and the District of Columbia across all major functional categories. It allows you to see how each state ranks, and you can sort by any factor you choose. (One frequent outlier is DC; though included in the rankings, it often functions more like a city than a state) We’ve included some annotations to guide you along the way. By exploring the tool, you’ll gain a sense of how much each state spends on any given area and why states spend what they do. ….

Past Due: Examining the Costs and Consequences of Charging for Justice in New Orleans

Source: Mathilde Laisne, Jon Wool, and Christian Henrichson, Vera Institute of Justice, January 2017

From the overview:
In 2015, government agencies in New Orleans collected $4.5 million in the form of bail, fines and fees from people involved in the criminal justice system and, by extension, from their families. Another $4.7 million was transferred from the pockets of residents to for-profit bail bond agents. These costs have become the subject of considerable public attention. Because many “users” of the system have very low incomes or none at all, there is growing concern that charging for justice amounts to criminalizing poverty, especially when people who can’t pay become further entangled in the justice system. In 2015, the city spent $6.4 million to incarcerate people who couldn’t pay bail or conviction fines and fees. By focusing on bail decisions and fines and fees assessed at conviction, Past Due, and its accompanying technical report, reveals the costs and other consequences of a system that tries to extract money from low-income people and then jails them when they can’t pay.
Related:
Technical Report
Summary

State Expenditure Report (Fiscal 2014-2016)

Source: National Association of State Budget Officers, 2016

Overview:
This annual report examines spending in the functional areas of state budgets: elementary and secondary education, higher education, public assistance, Medicaid, corrections, transportation, and all other. It also includes data on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and on revenue sources in state general funds.

– The total state spending growth rate slowed in fiscal 2016, following a 10-year high in fiscal 2015.
– Medicaid continued to increase as a share of total state spending, while K-12 remained the largest category from state funds.
– Transportation led the way in spending growth from state funds in both fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2016, while Medicaid experienced the largest gains from all funds.
– Revenue growth slowed considerably in fiscal 2016 as states saw weaker collections from sales, personal income, and corporate income taxes.
Related:
Summary
Archives