BEYOND THE BARS: Closing Jails and Prisons-2018

Save the Date!  Beyond the Bars: Closing Jails and Prisons March 1-4, 2018

The 8th annual Beyond the Bars Conference of the Center for Justice at Columbia University seeks to contribute to the growing movement to close jails and prisons as a part of the larger struggle to end mass incarceration. In particular, we will focus on elevating the efforts led by grassroots organizers that include formerly incarcerated and directly impacted people.

Prison and jail closings have been taking place unevenly throughout the United States over the past decade. However, campaigns like the ones in New York, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee have helped to usher in a new phase, one that highlights the role of grassroots organizing and directly impacted leadership, and that has begun to put forth a more transformative vision of how to close jails and prisons and what comes in their place. Momentum for lasting change is building. Organizers, activists and scholars have been grappling with many of the deeply seeded issues related to incarceration and criminalization. From the movement to close youth prisons entirely, to centering the fight for racial justice, to highlighting the ways that women and lgbtq community are impacted, to focusing on the elderly inside prisons with long sentences that are about punishment not safety, to interrogating the effectiveness of punishment in reducing violence, we are at a moment where we are able to make concrete advances in reducing the carceral footprint.

It is our hope that this conference will bolster these efforts in the following ways:

Convene and support a national network of people and organizations working to close jails and prisons across the country
Help articulate a vision and analysis for closing jails and prisons and what comes in its place
Address and examine some of the difficult issues and questions that arise in the efforts to close jails and prison
Further catalyze university involvement in the struggle to end mass incarceration

NYS Jail Justice & Local News

03/2014: Hampden County, Massachusetts breaks the cycle of incarceration by ensuring that inmates get high-quality health care in and out of jail. https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2013.1396

5/2014: Pre-Release and Reentry Services (PRRS), a division of Montgomery County’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, facilitates the transition between incarceration and release. Eligible offenders may serve the final portion of their sentence at PRRS’ residential facility: the Pre-Release Center (PRC). PRC offers controlled access to the community, holistic programming, and case management in order to improve residents’ reintegration into the community upon exiting the criminal justice system. http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COR/Resources/Files/PDF/PRRSRecivismAnalysisProjectFinalPaper.pdf

01/02/17: In an effort to break the cycle of incarceration, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and 21 police departments throughout the county have signed onto a national initiative that aims to divert nonviolent offenders with mental health and substance abuse issues from the criminal justice system and connect them with the services they need. http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_30698739/sheriff-greater-lowell-police-work-break-cycle-incarceration#ixzz52W14oFU6

11/13/17: Jefferson County, Colorado is locking up veterans in special jail unit to break the cycle of incarceration; the housing arrangement will make it easier for VA to provide inmates with services. https://www.denverpost.com/2017/11/13/jefferson-county-locking-up-veterans-special-jail-unit-break-incarceration-cycle/

10/25/17: Cleveland County, Oklahoma sees drop in detention numbers “The decrease in numbers may not indicate a decrease in crime, but rather appears to be related to the number of adjudicated DOC prisoners being taken to state prisons”.http://www.normantranscript.com/oklahoma/sheriff-jail-counts-are-down/article_72e1b874-ba08-11e7-8ba9-af10c02342e8.html

12/22/17: Cook County Jail, Indiana. The population at the Cook County Jail has fallen below 6,000 inmates, its lowest point in decades, said Cara Smith, chief policy officer for Sheriff Tom Dart, said the number has been declining for some time in part because of a drop in arrests, but the biggest change came some three months ago when criminal court judges were ordered to set bail only in amounts that defendants could afford to pay. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-cook-county-jail-under-6000-inmates-20171221-story.html