Ending Mass IncarcerationBringing Dignity to Life Behind Bars

Lessons from Abroad

For decades as the U.S. prisoner population swelled, officials here eschewed comparisons with their counterparts in Europe. That’s no longer true. Curiosity and genuine openness to new ideas are spreading. 

Two delegations of corrections administrators and lawmakers joined us to visit prisons in Europe, with the second trip featured on 60 Minutes. What they saw firsthand—the focus on rehabilitation over retribution and an underlying commitment to human dignity—is finding a foothold in the facilities they oversee. The visits are part of a larger effort to promote cross-cultural learning in an area of social policy where America hasn’t been on the leading edge.

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Vera mourns the loss of our colleague and justice champion Fred Patrick, and honors his life and legacy

We lost a good man this weekend. It is with profound sadness that we share news of the passing of our beloved colleague and friend Fred Patrick, director of our Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC). A mentor to many staff at Vera, Fred was a passionate and tireless advocate for a more just and humane criminal justice system. A son of Baton R ...

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    Vera Institute of Justice
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Series: Dispatches from Germany

Can We Learn from Our Past?

The Holocaust forced Germany to fundamentally change how it incarcerates people. In America, slavery morphed into mass incarceration.

The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime—a loophole that has continued the wide-scale persecution of black and brown people through the criminal justice system. The result is a U.S. prison system designed to warehouse and dehumanize people. From the length of sentences ...

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    Alex Frank
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