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Heartland Alliance National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity;
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The country has only 5% of the world's population, but one-quarter of its prisoners. Many prisons are overcrowded, house 1 times as many mentally ill individuals as state hospitals, keep individuals locked up for long periods of time and hold a far greater percentage, of the country's minority population. Nearly two-thirds of those released every year return to prison and discrimination in employment and housing encumbers many who return to communities nationwide. Our recommendations focus on ways in which prison reform can create greater opportunities for individuals to access employment and education opportunities either as prevention and reentry strategies or as inside-the-wall approaches in order to ensure that a greater number of individuals are more prepared for employment -- and less likely to recidivate - when released.
Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law;
"In recent years, as the cost of judicial campaigns has soared, the boundaries that keep money and political pressure from interfering with the rule of law have become increasingly blurred", according to The New Politics of Judicial Elections, a MacArthur-supported report by Justice at Stake, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The report finds increased politicization and escalating spending in state judicial campaigns, as well as the growing role of special interest money. During the 2011-12 election cycle, many judicial races "seemed alarmingly indistinguishable from ordinary political campaigns" featuring everything from Super PACs and mudslinging attack ads to millions of dollars of candidate fundraising and independent spending.
Brennan Center for Justice;
Examines trends in the impact of special interest groups' spending on judicial elections, TV advertising, and implications such as threats of impeachment for unpopular decisions, attacks on merit selection systems, and danger to public election financing.
Human Rights Watch;
In recent years, it has become increasingly evident that executed prisoners are the principal source of supply of body organs for medical transplantation purposes in China. While most observers would acknowledge the moral dilemmas implicit in this situation, the chronic shortage of voluntary organ donors around the world has led some to believe that such practices may still be justified: through their deaths, after all, condemned criminals can contribute to saving the lives of innocent victims of disease. Recent research by Human Rights Watch/Asia has uncovered, however, important new documentary and other evidence demonstrating that China's heavy reliance on executed prisoners as a source of transplant organs entails a wide range of unacceptable human rights and medical ethics violations.
In this report, Human Rights Watch/Asia calls on the Chinese government to ban all further use of prisoners' organs for transplant operations, provide precise statistical data on capital punishment and executions and comply with the United Nations' "Principles of Medical Ethics" relevant to the role of the medical profession in protecting prisoners against torture and other ill-treatment. It also calls on foreign governments, especially in the Asian region, to discourage or bar their citizens from obtaining organ transplants in China and on foreign funding agencies to adopt a policy of non-participation in all Chinese government-sponsored organ transplant-related research programs. It also calls on foreign medical and pharmaceutical companies which supply goods or services to China's transplant program to cease such activity until the Chinese authorities can demonstrate that executed prisoners' organs are no longer being used for transplant purposes.
National Council on Crime and Delinquency;
During 1987, approximately 340,000 persons were sent to state and federal prisons. The public, influenced by news stories of exceptionally violent crimes and politicians' rhetoric, believe that all of these prisoners are dangerous and should serve lengthy prison terms. However, the facts suggest otherwise. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency's (NCCD) research has shown that the vast majority of inmates are sentenced for petty crimes such as minor property offenses, minor drug violations, and public disorder. Our nation spends an exorbitant amount of money each year (nearly $7 billion in 1986) to warehouse petty criminals. Instead of escalating the use of expensive and largely ineffective prison sanctions, NCCD suggests that alternative options should be launched that will reduce taxpayer costs, increase restitution to victims, and help ensure that these prisoners will not return to a life of petty crime.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;
Outlines the Reclaiming Futures initiative, which brings juvenile courts and systems of care together under judges' leadership in a team effort toward systemic change. Offers lessons learned, guidance, and recommendations for starting similar projects.
National Council on Crime and Delinquency;
Traditional discussions about sentencing policy pay scant attention to the effects of imprisonment on parents and their children. However, the enormous rise in the numbers of people behind bars, especially women, has brought this issue to prominence.
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life;
Shares findings from a survey of prison chaplains about the correctional system; what they do and should do; the religious lives of inmates, including the prevalence of extremism; religious rehabilitation programs; and the role of volunteers.
National Transitional Jobs Network;
People who have been recently released from prison face a number of serious barriers to employment such as long gaps in work history and the stigma of a criminal record. The Transitional Jobs strategy has shown promise in helping people reentering from prison gain valuable work experience and stay out of prison by providing recently released prisoners with immediate paid income, work experience, work readiness training and supportive services.
Vera Institute of Justice;
Despite its widespread use, research shows that the effect of incarceration as a deterrent to crime is minimal at best, and has been diminishing for several years. Indeed, increased rates of incarceration have no demonstrated effect on violent crime and in some instances may increase crime. There are more effective ways to respond to crime—evidenced by the 19 states that recently reduced both their incarceration and crime rates. This brief summarizes the weak relationship between incarceration and crime reduction, and highlights proven strategies for improving public safety that are more effective and less expensive than incarceration.