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Criminal Justice Research

On this page we maintain a selection of publications by other organizations that are relevant to the criminal justice field. 

Report: Still Life: America's Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences
The Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project released a new report on life sentences in the United States. The report finds that the total population serving a life or virtual life sentence of 50 years or more reached 206,268 in 2016 – or one of every seven people behind bars. Extreme prison sentences are a nationwide trend but in eight states - Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Utah - at least one of every five prisoners is serving a form of life in prison according to the report. The report also looks at the racial disparities in the prison population serving life sentences and finally offers recommendations to address the outsized life and virtual life population in the United States. 

Report: The State of Sentencing 2015: Developments in Policy and Practice
The Sentencing Project
This report by The Sentencing Project provides an overview of recent policy reforms in 30 states that demonstrate a continued trend to reform sentencing policies and scale back the use of imprisonment without compromising public safety. The areas of recent policy reforms addressed by the report include sentencing, probation and parole, collateral consequences, and juvenile justice.

Report: Transforming Prisons, Restoring Lives: Final Recommendations of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections
The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections
January 2016
This report is the result of over a year of data collection and analysis by the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections. Created by Congress to examine challenges in the federal corrections system, the independent task force presents its final recommendations in this report. The practical, data-driven solutions put forward by the task force provide a blueprint for reforms to the federal corrections system to reduce the federal prison population, and enhance public safety.

Report: In Our Own Backyard: Confronting Growth and Disparities in American Jails
Vera Institute of Justice
December 2015
This Vera Institute report takes a look at overall jail growth in the United States and where it has been most prevalent between 1970 and 2014. In Our Own Backyard also analyses how this growth relates to disparities by race and gender. The report is part of Vera’s Incarceration Trends project and includes a data tool that provides information about jail population and jail incarceration rates for every U.S. County that uses a local jail. This map-based Incarceration Trends tool can be utilized to understand how your local jail is being used and how it compares with others over time.

Report: Crime in 2015: A Preliminary Analysis
Brennan Center for Justice
November 18, 2015
This Brennan Center report presents a preliminary analysis of 2015 national crime trends by looking at data of crime and murder for the nation’s 30 largest cities and comparing it to historical data. The authors suggest that reports of rising crime across the country are not supported by the available data.

Report: Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States  
Amnesty International
June 18, 2015
All 50 states and the District of Columbia fail to comply with international standards on police use of lethal force, according to a report released by Amnesty International. The study also finds that 13 US states fall beneath even lower legal standards set by US constitutional law and that nine states currently have no laws on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officials at all. For more information about the report, click here.

Report: The State of Sentencing 2014: Developments in Policy and Practice 
The Sentencing Project
February 2015
The State of Sentencing 2014 highlights policy changes in 30 states and the District of Columbia in both the adult and juvenile justice systems, changes that may address the nation’s scale of incarceration. Highlights of the report include:

  • Scaling back sentences for low-level drug offenses
  • Reducing barriers to reentry, including employment restrictions and bans on public assistance
  • Eliminating juvenile life without parole

Report: Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice 
Brennan Center for Justice
April 27, 2015
This Brennan Center publication is a bipartisan collection of essays on criminal justice reform by prominent public figures and experts, including many of the leading 2016 presidential candidates.

Report: Locked in the Past: Montana’s Jails in Crisis 
ACLU of Montana
February 2015
The ACLU of Montana released a new report, Locked in the Past: Montana’s Jails in Crisis, that provides an overview of the conditions of confinement in county detention centers throughout Montana and offers recommendations on how to improve those conditions.

Report: Sticker Shock: Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration 
The Justice Policy Institute
December 2014
Issued by the Justice Policy Institute, the report highlights the high cost of youth incarceration in the United States. According to the report, 33 states spend more than $100,000 or more per youth inmate. The overall costs to taxpayers range between $8 billion to $21 billion in long-term costs.

Issue Brief: Police Body-Worn Cameras: Evidentiary Benefits and Privacy Threats 
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
May 2015
Following recent news coverage of deadly police encounters, police body-worn camera programs are taking shape across the country. This issue brief highlights different stances on body worn cameras, pointing out both, potential evidentiary benefits, as well as the limits and privacy issues of video surveillance. The brief endorses a middle ground position that encourages police to adopt the camera, but to do so thoughtfully. Important questions that are addressed include when recording should be permitted or mandated, how recordings should be stored, and who should have access to the recordings.

Report: Stop and Frisk in Chicago 
ACLU of Illinois
March 2015
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is replacing New York City in their pervasive use of the controversial “stop and frisk” practice. That finding is at the center of the report issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on the practice by the CPD. Highlighting the use (and overuse) of stop and frisk in Chicago, the report demonstrates that the CPD’s use of the practice is often unlawful and disproportionately targets people of color. Finally, the report offers recommendations for fixing CPD policies in order to curb abuses and restore community trust in the city. For more information about the report, click here.

Report: Maltreatment of Youth in U.S. Juvenile Corrections Facilities 
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
June 24, 2015
This report, released as a follow-up to No Place For Kids, introduces new evidence on the widespread maltreatment of youth in state-funded juvenile corrections facilities. It tells of high rates of sexual victimization, the heavy-handed use of disciplinary isolation and a growing roster of states where confined youth have been subject to widespread abuse.

Report: Police Body-Worn Cameras 
Data & Society Research Institute
February 2015
This primer on police body-worn cameras also offers an overview of what is currently known about body-worn cameras, and highlights the unanswered questions about how body-worn camera programs may impact civil rights and civil liberties. With body-worn cameras becoming a central policy proposal across the country, this piece asks important questions about how they can be best used to achieve their touted goals.

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