Smart Decarceration: Achieving Criminal Justice Transformation in the 21st Century

ISBN : 9780190653095

Matthew Epperson ; Carrie Pettus-Davis
304 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Sep 2017
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Smart Decarceration is a forward-thinking, practical volume that provides innovative concepts and concrete strategies for ushering in an era of decarceration — a proactive and effective undoing of the era of mass incarceration. The text grapples with tough questions and takes up the challenge of transforming America's approach to criminal justice in the 21st century. This timely work consists of chapters written from multiple perspectives and disciplines including advocates, researchers, academics, practitioners, and persons with incarceration histories who are now leaders in the movement.

The primary purpose of this book is to inform both academic and public understanding — to place the challenge of smart decarceration at the center of the current national discourse, taking into account the realities of the current sociopolitical context — and to propose beginning action steps. This is achieved by first outlining and addressing questions such as: What if incarceration were not an option for most?; Whose voices are essential in this era of decarceration?; What is the state of evidence for solutions?; How do we generate and adopt empirically driven reforms?; How do we redefine and rethink justice in the United States? Smart Decarceration offers a way forward in building a field for decarceration through provocative but reasoned challenges to existing approaches to criminal justice reforms, lively focus on potential solutions, and action steps for reform.


Foreword by Michael Sherraden
Introduction by Matthew Epperson

Part I: Setting the Context for Decarceration
Chapter 1: Smart Decarceration: Guiding Concepts for an Era of Criminal Justice Transformation
Matthew Epperson and Carrie Pettus-Davis
Chapter 2: Reflections on a Locked Door: Lessons from History and the Failed Promise of Penal Incarceration
Rebecca Ginsburg
Chapter 3: From Moment to Movement: The Urgency for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals to Lead Decarceration Efforts
Glenn E. Martin

Part II: Advancing Justice and Community Reforms
Chapter 4: From the Inside Out: A Perspective on Decarceration from a Formerly Incarcerated Individual
Ronald Simpson-Bey
Chapter 5: The Prosecutor's Role in Promoting Decarceration: Lessons Learned from Milwaukee County
John Chisholm and Jeffery Altenburg
Chapter 6: Learning to Lead in the Decarceration Movement
Vivian D. Nixon
Chapter 7: Prisoner Reentry in an Era of Smart Decarceration
Reuben Jonathan Miller
Chapter 8: Community and Decarceration: Developing Localized Solutions
Kathryn Bocanegra

Part III: Rethinking Policy and Practice
Chapter 9: Minimizing the Maximum: The Case for Shortening All Prison Sentences
Nazgol Ghandnoosh
Chapter 10: Reforming Civil Disability Policy to Facilitate Effective and Sustainable Decarceration
Carrie Pettus-Davis, Matthew Epperson, and Annie Grier
Chapter 11: A Public Health Approach to Decarceration: Strategies to Reduce the Prison and Jail Population and Support Reentry
Ernest Drucker
Chapter 12: Community Interventions for Justice Involved Individuals: Assessing Gaps in Programming to Promote Decarceration
Faye S. Taxman and Amy Murphy
Chapter 13: Empirical Means to Decarcerative Ends? Advancing the Science and Practice of Risk Assessment
Julian Adler, Sarah Picard-Fritsche, Michael Rempel, and Jennifer A. Tallon

Part IV: Moving from Concepts to Strategies
Chapter 14: Imagining the Future of Justice: Advancing Decarceration through Multisector Social Innovations
Margaret E. Severson
Chapter 15: Guideposts for the Smart Decarceration Era: Recommendations Strategies for Researchers, Practitioners, and Formerly Incarcerated Leaders
Carrie Pettus-Davis, Matthew Epperson, Samuel Taylor, and Annie Grier


About the author: 

Matthew Epperson, PhD, MSW, is an associate professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and founding co-director of the Smart Decarceration Initiative. His research centers on developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions to reduce disparities in the criminal justice system.; Carrie Pettus-Davis, PhD, MSW, is founding director of the Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation and founding co-director of the Smart Decarceration Initiative. Professor Pettus-Davis oversees research to better understand factors and disseminate practices that will dramatically reduce incarceration rates.

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