Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Survey of New Resources

Mass Incarceration Starts Young - Podcast

"The United States locks up more people than any country in the world. That starts young: Roughly a million kids a year get caught up in the criminal justice system. In Caught, a new podcast from WNYC, we'll listen as some of those young people tell their stories over nine episodes. They'll help us understand how we got here--and how we might help, rather than just punish troubled youth. Welcome to Caught: The Lives of Juvenile JusticeCaught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project." Listen now.

The Costliest Choice - Report

The Children and Family Justice Center has published the third installment of their year-long series, Community Safety & the Future of Illinois’ Youth Prisons. This issue, “The Costliest Choice: Economic Impact ofYouth Incarceration,” discusses why Illinois should depart from youth incarceration and instead invest in strengthening Illinois youth, families, and communities – restoring much needed services damaged by the state budget crisis. 

Illinois’ use of five state prisons – incarcerating about 425 juveniles – has a direct operational cost of about $514 per youth, per day. This cost does not including education, services, or aftercare. However, alternatives to youth incarceration save money up front and provide long-term safety benefits. The report states “youth incarceration is the costliest response to delinquency – in upfront costs, hidden costs, youth outcomes, and societal costs. Even for high-risk youth, the costs of the choice to imprison outstrip other, less damaging approaches.” 

“Strong communities are key to success.” Illinois needs to increase funding for youth justice reinvestment programs and expand the capacity of local nonprofits that provide state social services to youth and families. 

Vincent Schiraldi on Parole and Probation

Vincent Schiraldi started his career in criminal justice reform in 1981, although he always knew that he wanted to dedicate his life to helping people, or as he humbly states to be “in the human services field.” Schiraldi started working at the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, and then went on to create two nonprofits, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco and our very own Justice Policy Institute. Today, at the Justice Lab at Columbia University he is a leading voice in criminal justice reform, specifically in regards to parole and probation.

Schiraldi has two reports out on parole and probation, one from a national perspective and the other focused on New York State. Since the creation of the parole and probation systems, they have deviated from their original intent and have become a trigger to mass incarceration. Schiraldi states that “nationwide there are almost five million people on probation and parole. That’s more people than live in half of U.S. states, one in 53 adults. It was never meant to be that big and it’s now a processing-back-to-prison environment.”

In an article that Schiraldi co-authored with Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, they state that when looking at the quality of justice, we often only measure its success by recidivism rate - which is “inadequate and often misleading.” Instead of focusing on recidivism rates, we should focus on alternatives to incarceration and improving what systems we already have in place - such as parole and probation, which were originally created to help people who are incarcerated. Highlights -

  • “[Probation and parole were] originally meant to be alternatives to prison, they now have become tripwires and triggers to mass incarceration.”
  • “Nationwide there are almost five million people on probation and parole. That’s more people than live in half of U.S. states, one in 53 adults. It was never meant to be that big and it’s now a processing-back-to-prison environment.”
  • On Less is More in New York report: “Twenty leading probation and parole administrators signed on to our report, which calls for ultimately cutting the systems they run in half and to reduce technical violations that lead back to prison.”
  • “There’s a lot of research showing that community cohesion and resilience makes communities safer, not just more police and more prisons.”
  • On Rikers Island: “New York’s already the least incarcerated and safest big city in the country. We’re going to do something that no U.S. city has done.”

Finding Strength Through Poetry - Poetry and Profiles

“Once you’ve been behind bars, words can feel like freedom.”

Formerly incarcerated people are now finding a new voice through poetry, thanks to the Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop. This workshop helps young men find a way to give expression to their lives during and after incarceration. Since 2002, the program has worked with teenagers charged and imprisoned as adults in the D.C. Jail and the federal prison system.

You can listen or read some of the members’ poetry here: https://wamu.org/story/18/02/23/minds-still-free-former-prisoners-find-strength-poetry/