Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

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Region of impact
United States
Total funding
$4 million
Funding began in
2017
Focus
Inclusion

Overview

Bringing transparency to local jail data

What they do

Vera Institute of Justice drives change in America’s justice systems: advancing equal justice for all, ending mass incarceration and punitiveness, and strengthening families and communities. For decades, Vera has occupied a special, inside lane to help public sector leaders change the systems they run: visionary correctional leaders who seek to bring college education to students who are locked up; public defenders fighting for immigrants to get a fair shot in court; and police chiefs committed to demonstrating and owning a respectful partnership with the communities they serve.

A core priority for Vera is to close incarceration’s front door. Through local jail reform, Vera is committed to ensuring that fewer people suffer the harms of time behind bars and that more people have their liberty preserved and get the help they actually need. Vera believes that leadership in government is essential to this pursuit. True leaders – driven by commitment to human dignity, informed by data and instilled with a spirit of innovation – can and must transform the administration of justice and ensure that our systems deliver on the promise of equal justice under law.

How we're helping

Vera is undertaking an innovative initiative - In Our Backyards - to understand the prevalence of incarceration and drive reform in places that are counter-intuitively the new drivers of incarceration: small, mid-sized and mostly rural counties. In these places, incarceration is growing while the number of people behind bars in and from big cities is declining.

Although local jails are increasingly recognized as the “front door” to mass incarceration, justice system stakeholders and others historically have not had access to the necessary data to understand how their jail is being used and how it compares with others. To address this issue, Google.org has granted Vera $4 million to develop a local level prison data set and an accessible, interactive visualization portal. With this new information in hand, policymakers can begin to make choices that are better for their communities.


Resources

Why Are There So Many People in Jail in Scranton, PA?

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Out of Sight: The Growth of Jails in Rural America

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