We’ve compiled top highlights from recent news, research, and resources across the world for our latest IACFP International News summary. Our topics for November and December include emerging research, policy updates, and practice highlights.
- Criminological Highlights, Volume 19, Number 5, September 2021
You can view the September 2021 issue of Criminological Highlights here. This issue of Criminological Highlights addresses the following questions:
- When police speak to Black and White citizens, how do they communicate different messages even if the words are the same?
- Can you predict how youths will be processed by the criminal justice system by looking at their faces?
- Are school security cameras worth the investment?
- Why did crime drop in some cities when COVID-19 hit?
- How is it better to have been born in 1995 than in 1980?
- What might explain the substantial drop in youth crime in some western countries in this century?
- How does the death rate from opioid overdoses underestimate the true measure of opioid-related deaths?
- What should you look for when you hear that a diversion program for youths “worked”?
- The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in State Prisons
The Sentencing Project has published a new report, The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in State Prisons, which can be accessed online through this link. The report was authored by Ashley Nellis, Ph.D., Senior Research Analyst at The Sentencing Project. They note that substantial research assistance was provided by former Research Fellows Skye Liston and Savannah En.
The report found that Black Americans are incarcerated in U.S. state prisons at nearly five times the rate of white Americans. While the rates of disparity are in some cases surprisingly high, they may also sadly under-report the actual disparities. In addition, the disparities vary broadly among the states. The report provides three recommendations to be made if meaningful reforms are to be accomplished in the U.S.:
- Eliminate mandatory sentences for all crimes.
- Require prospective and retroactive racial impact statements for all criminal statutes.
- Decriminalize low-level drug offenses.
This report provides excellent support for those wanting to invest in meaningful criminal justice reforms.
- In the Extreme–Women Serving Life Without Parole and Death Sentences in the United States
Another report issued by The Sentencing Project, in collaboration with the National Black Women’s Justice Institute and Cornell Law School,was authored by Ashley Nellis, Ph.D. The report can be accessed through this link. This report not only summarizes statistics on the prevalence of extreme sentences served by women, but also describes their experiences. For those who understand the importance of putting a name and face to the statistics they present, particularly when advocating for reform, this is an important document.
- International Review of the Red Cross, March 2021
The March issue of the International Review of the Red Cross focuses on the role of digital technologies in humanitarian law, policy, and action. While the focus of this issue is on digital technologies and war, there is application to other instances of crisis humanitarian efforts. Certainly there are victims of violence that should be considered when examining policy related to privacy, digital access during conflict, and ethical applications from the perspective of the people that are being served. It may also have application in prisons and how digital technologies are being applied, as well as utilized, to record inhumane practices. Finally, the increasing role of the private sector is addressed in this issue.
This document does not have a direct link to criminal justice reform and operations. However, the issues raised do have application to policy related to criminal justice application of digital technologies.
- Checklists to Assess Vulnerabilities in Health Care Facilities in the Context of Climate Change, World Health Organization
This report was produced by the World Health Organization in April 2021. It was one of the resources in the COP26 Health Programme and was a complementary tool for the WHO Guidance for Climate-Resilient and Environmentally Sustainable Health Care Facilities.
From a policy perspective, the checklists are a tool to aid prison directors in emergency planning for climate-related events, such as floods, fires, hurricanes, and droughts. Health care facilities and prisons both face similar issues related to the workforce; resources needed to offer care (e.g., water; and facilities). Whether or not the country in which a prison is operating has adopted climate-related goals and policies, these checklists may be beneficial.
- Distant Voices-Coming Home
Distant Voices-Vox Liminis is a project that explores crime, punishment, and reintegration through song writing and other forms of creative expression. It started with songwriting projects across Scottish prisons, community justice settings, and community events. It then evolved in 2015 to a second pilot phase of Distant Voices and the release of a studio EP called “Silent Seconds” and with a festival in Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts. Two years later, it evolved into a pioneering three-year research project by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Most recently, a ten-day festival was held, Bridging the Void-Distant Voices Festival.
The opening gig of Bridging the Void-Distant Voices Festival can be viewed here. It is delightful, thought-provoking, informative, and hopeful. The first day of the festival is mapping the void. The second recording is entitled, “Foundations: Creative action, community-building and democratic life.” That is followed by the premier showing of “A Giant on the Bridge,” a conversation on building bridges, and a closing gig, “Moving On Together.”
The website, recordings, and blogs introduce the project and provide an experiential consideration of crime, punishment, and reintegration. It is a bridge between and an integration of research and practice that is worth consideration for replication and for inspiring reform and transformation. And, it’s great music!
- Norwegian Correctional Service, Operational Strategy 2021-2026
Those who work in corrections worldwide often look to the Norwegian Correctional Service as the model to emulate. Readers may find it interesting to view the Operational Strategy for the Norwegian Correctional Service 2021-2026. When you are considered to be a world leader and innovator, how do you continue to innovate and to produce better results? The operational strategy, goals, sub-goals, and language in this document may provide insight into that. It can also serve as a guidepost for those who are working toward criminal justice reform.