Prisons and Jails

This webinar examined trends and corresponding state policies to address the most dramatic change in the U.S. prison system, one that is having far-reaching effects on all components of the criminal justice system: the increasing number of elderly inmates. 

As America’s baby boomers continue to age, the justice system is having to change to meet the needs of a very different kind of prisoner. “We are in fact moving toward a geriatric justice system, whether we want to formally call it that or not,” said Ronald Aday, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Tennessee State University who studies gerontology and prisons. He was one of the featured speakers for a recent CSG South webinar “Aging Inmates: The Continual ‘Graying’ of America’s Prisons.”

Stateline Midwest ~ April 2013

Michigan, Wisconsin and North Dakota were among the nearly 30 U.S. states where imprisonment rates fell between 2006 and 2011, a March analysis of federal data done by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows.

Nationally, the imprisonment rate fell 3 percent; the U.S. crime rate decreased 13 percent over that same time period.

State and federal prison populations and imprisonment rates have declined for two straight years, after increasing or remaining stable from 2000 to 2009. From 2010 to 2011, 26 states saw incarcerated populations increase, while 22 states experienced decreases and two remained about the same.

California voters sent mixed messages on two ballot measures related to criminal justice, passing a measure that modifies the state's harsh three-strikes law, while rejecting a measure to eliminate the state's seldom-used death penalty.

Next week, Californians will have the opportunity to revisit two major criminal justice issues previously enacted by ballot initiative: the death penalty and the three-strikes sentencing law. 

Proposition 36 will provide residents with an opportunity to modify the state's 18-year-old "three-strikes" law, which allows judges to impose a sentence of 25-years-to-life for offenders who commit a third felony, no matter how minor, if they have two...

The fields of medicine, education, child welfare, mental health, probation and corrections have all been influenced by evidence-based practices. In essence, evidence-based practices are a set of guidelines—based upon rigorous research, evaluations and meta-analysis—that have proved effective in improving decision making and outcomes. In the medical world, for example, evidence-based practice refers to the “conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”1 Only recently, however, has this approach spilled over into state courts in the form of providing decision-making tools for judges at the time of criminal sentencing.

Justice Center Releases New Brief on Enrolling People with SMI in Benefits

For people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) leaving jail and prison, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI) benefits can help ensure access to health care, housing, and other essential supports in the critical period immediately following release. The 2009 passage of healthcare reform legislation expands eligibility for Medicaid, making access to benefits even more important in the transition-to-community process. However, as many practitioners who work with these individuals know, benefits enrollment can be a complex and confusing process.

By Sue Bell Cobb, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice

How many times as a trial judge did I say to victims of crime, troubled youth or dysfunctional families, “I wish I could snap my fingers and make things better. I wish I could snap my fingers and undo all the harm that has caused you to be in court today. Unfortunately, I do not have that kind of power.”

State prison populations experienced a slight decline between 2008 and 2009, while the federal population increased 3.4 percent.  However, state prison populations have risen significantly - up by 13 percent - since 2000.  

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