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Five States Join Initiative to Make Prisons ‘More Humane, Safe’

Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Missouri and Vermont have been chosen to join a Prison Research and Innovation Network created by the Urban Institute, with support from Arnold Ventures, the institute announced on Monday.

The network was described as “a comprehensive effort to build evidence and spur innovation to make prisons more humane, safe, and rehabilitative.”

The Urban Institute called the new initiative “a community of practice for states interested in leveraging research, data, and evidence to inspire improvements in prison environments.”

Goals for the project were listed as these:

  • Developing a better understanding of prison environments and their relationship to the safety and well-being of those who live and work there.
  • Enhancing state prison capacities for collecting data on prison environments, with the goal of promoting transparency and accountability.
  • Designing, implementing and evaluating “data-driven, evidence-based operational and programmatic innovations” to improve basic conditions, including those that support rehabilitation and self-betterment for prisoners.

Each of the five states will get a $100,000 grant to hire a manager and another $100,000 to support research.

The five prisons that will be study sites, along with the research partner: Colorado, Sterling Correctional Facility, University of Denver; Delaware, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, University of Delaware; Iowa, Iowa Correctional Center for Women, Department of Human Rights Division of Criminal and Juvenile Planning; Missouri, Moberly Correctional Center and University of Missouri;p Vermont, Southern State Correctional Facility and University of Vermont.

The selection of states was announced at the American Correctional Association’s winter conference in San Diego.