Reckoning with History: The Legacy of Lynching in the West

Reckoning with History is an ongoing series that seeks to understand the legacies of the past and to put the West’s present moment in perspective. n April, the Equal Justice Initiative opened the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. The museum examines the connections between past and present, […]

Cyrano Behind Bars

A prison theater program in New York offers hope for inmate rehabilitation. Cyrano de Bergerac will be eligible for parole in 2022. For the time being, he is a vision in Gallic effrontery, pinballing around the stage in the gymnasium at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, N.Y. The production of Edmond Rostand’s canonical 19th-century comedy, […]

How to Reduce Incarceration? Change Prosecutors’ Incentives

In his first year as district attorney in Philadelphia, Larry Krasner is making waves for his reform-minded approach to fixing some of the most fundamental problems in our justice system. Among other innovative strategies, he is requiring prosecutors in his office to justify the cost of a prison sentence before asking taxpayers to foot the […]

Why Criminal Records Hurt Employment Chances So Much

Stereotypes about people with criminal records hurt employers as much as they do would-be workers. Despite a record 6.7 million open jobs in America and the fact thatnearly one-third of small businesses cannot fill open jobs, the stigma against hiring formerly incarcerated people is so severe that more than 27 percent of us are unemployed, […]

One Man’s Mission to Bring Better Ramen to the Incarcerated

When police discovered just over a gram of crack cocaine in the trash can of Ron Freeman’s hot-dog cart, they gave him a choice. Either tell them who put it there or take the charge and go to prison. His options were limited. The culprit was a well-known member of the Crips, and ratting him […]

Charging Ex-Offenders ‘Administrative Fees’: Big Pain for Poor, Little Gain for Counties

Gabriel Lopez, a peer mentor at L.A.’s Homeboy Industries, sees it all the time. A man gets locked up and while he’s gone, bills stack up. He gets out and he’s behind on rent, sometimes homeless and jobless. And there’s often another barrier he didn’t anticipate — a big tab that he owes the government. […]

Behind Bars, Mentally Ill Inmates Are Often Punished For Their Symptoms

By some accounts, nearly half of America’s incarcerated population is mentally ill — and journalist Alisa Roth argues that most aren’t getting the treatment they need. Roth has visited jails in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta and a rural women’s prison in Oklahoma to assess the condition of mentally ill prisoners. She says […]

Here’s Who’s Making Money from Immigration Enforcement

The Trump administration’s much-publicized increase in immigration enforcement is also increasing the bottom line for for-profit prisons and other companies from the private sector, with many signing multimillion-dollar contracts with the Department of Homeland Security. “A lot of people imagine immigration detention as being a government-only function, but there are private contractors throughout the entire […]

Nothing New: Children Lost in Foster Care System

This year, at least 2,300 children, the sons and daughters of parents seeking asylum in the US, have been separated from their parents and detained at the southern US border because of a “zero-tolerance” policy ordered by US Attorney Jeff Sessions for illegal border crossings. This policy has outraged millions of Americans, especially since the […]

Why Turning Homelessness into a Crime Is Cruel and Costly

Increasingly, local laws punish Americans who are homeless. By severely restricting or even barring the ability to engage in necessary, life-sustaining activities in public, like sitting, standing, sleeping or asking for help, even when there’s no reasonable alternative, these laws are essentially persecuting homeless men, women and children. As law professors who study how laws can make homelessness […]