Center on Sentencing and Corrections

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Learn about the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative

Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative

Segregated housing in prisons and jails—also commonly known as solitary confinement, restricted housing, or isolation—is a growing fiscal, safety, and human rights concern for corrections departments in the United States. The Safe Alternatives to Segregation (SAS) Initiative of the Center on Sentencing and Corrections (CSC) at the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is partnering with five state and local corrections systems to significantly reduce the use of segregated housing through the advancement of safe and effective alternatives. Through the online Safe Alternatives to Segregation Resource Center, Vera provides the latest research, reports, policy briefs, and information on promising reforms already being implemented in jurisdictions nationwide. These resources aim to inform corrections officials, policymakers, advocates, the media, and the general public about the current use of segregation in the U.S., its impacts, and what can be done to address it. Through the resource center, Vera also offers limited technical assistance to additional jurisdictions upon request.

The SAS Initiative is providing technical assistance to state corrections departments in Nebraska, North Carolina, and Oregon, and local departments in Middlesex County, New Jersey, and New York City. These sites were selected through a competitive application process that was open to all state and local jurisdictions. In partnership with these sites, Vera is performing a full review of the corrections departments’ policies and practices and conducting data analysis to determine the drivers and characteristics of incarcerated people in segregation. Vera will provide recommendations on policy and practice changes that can safely and effectively reduce the use of segregated housing across the systems and will help implement these recommendations.

The work of the SAS Initiative builds on the expertise Vera has developed through CSC’s Segregation Reduction Project, which launched in 2010 and has worked with the state departments of corrections in Illinois, Maryland, Washington, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. It is supported in part by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and Vera’s Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust publication series.

The SAS Initiative is fortunate to have the guidance of an advisory council comprising practitioners from state and local corrections systems that have successfully reduced their reliance on segregated housing as well as other experts in corrections management, criminal justice policy, mental health, and special populations. Practitioners have also been paired with selected sites to serve as peer mentors in the sites’ efforts to reduce their use of segregated housing. Advisory council members also advise Vera on technical assistance priorities, best practices, and the development of trainings and publications.

Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative Staff

Lauren Galarza
Program Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections
Lauren Galarza

Lauren Galarza

Program Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Lauren Galarza is a Program Associate in Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections. She works primarily on the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative where she provides technical assistance, logistical and administrative support, and policy awareness around reducing the use of solitary confinement in our nation’s prisons.

Lauren recently graduated from the National Urban Fellows Class of 2016, a rigorous 14-month, full-time graduate degree program comprising four semesters of academic course work while completing a nine-month mentorship assignment. During that time, she fulfilled her mentorship at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where she managed a national listening tour project that uplifted the voices and need for supports from vulnerable families in various communities. Lauren also completed a Master’s thesis on the barriers to and benefits of fathers in prison maintaining the relationship with their children. Prior to this fellowship, Lauren developed a diverse career in the public sector including: directly working with women who have severe mental illness and are living in a NYC homeless shelter to obtain government benefits; criminal justice organizing on issues including death row, life without parole, and police abuse; local community organizing with Latino immigrants to fight deplorable housing conditions; and additional advocacy efforts based on affected communities building their resilience against systemic oppression.

In her spare time, Lauren is an active member of Delta Tau Lambda Sorority, Inc as well as Active 20-30, an international service club. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Spanish from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College of the City University of New York.

Byron Kline
Senior Program Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections
Byron Kline

Byron Kline

Senior Program Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Byron is a senior program associate at Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections where his work focuses on the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative. Since joining Vera in 2015 Byron has worked with the Center on Youth Justice on juvenile justice reform efforts in Illinois, Georgia, and Kansas. Prior to working at Vera Byron served as Co-Director of Reentry for New York State’s Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Byron was also the National Program Director for The Corps Network’s Civic Justice Corps as well as the Corps’ Postsecondary Success Education Initiative. Byron holds a JD from Rutgers School of Law—Newark and a BS in Criminal Justice from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Matthew Lowen
Senior Program Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections
Matthew Lowen

Matthew Lowen

Senior Program Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Matthew Lowen is a senior program associate at Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections working on the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative. Prior to working at Vera Matthew was the Associate Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson, Arizona. During his twelve years there he led a state-wide effort to reduce solitary confinement in Arizona prisons, documented conditions of confinement, and worked to stem mass incarceration. He also researched, critiqued, and published on the criminalization of immigrants and immigration, specifically through Operation Streamline. Matthew has facilitated restorative justice workshops for incarcerated men, coordinated mediation processes for juveniles involved in the criminal justice system, and worked as a counselor for adjudicated youth living in residential care facilities as an alternative to incarceration. Matthew holds a BA in Justice, Peace, and Conflict Studies from Eastern Mennonite University and a MA in Geography from the University of Arizona. For his masters thesis he focused on how representations of solitary confinement in the media and culture inform popular understandings of incarceration.

Fred Patrick
Director, Center on Sentencing and Corrections
Fred Patrick

Fred Patrick

Director, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Fred Patrick oversees the SAS Initiative as the director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, where he leads efforts to reduce the overuse of jails and prisons and improve conditions of confinement in correctional settings.

Mr. Patrick joined Vera in 2012 as founding director of the Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project, a national initiative to expand access to higher education for people in prison. Prior to Vera, he held several senior executive positions in corrections and criminal justice, including deputy commissioner for planning and programs at the New York City Department of Correction, commissioner of the NYC Juvenile Justice Department, and the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner for community affairs. Additionally, he served as the associate vice president of programs at the Fortune Society and on faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Mr. Patrick has an MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and a BA in political science from Tuskegee University.

Stephen Roberts
Senior Research Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections
Stephen Roberts

Stephen Roberts

Senior Research Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Stephen Roberts serves as lead researcher for Vera’s partnership with the New York City Department of Correction.

Mr. Roberts is also lead researcher for Vera’s segregation reduction work with Bernalillo County, New Mexico. He has been at Vera since 2012, where his work has focused on jails. He developed the data and reporting systems for the New Orleans Pretrial Services and researched the impact of probation and parole violations on the Orleans Parish Prison’s jail population. He also co-authored the recent Vera report, Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America.

Mr. Roberts has a background in software development and database analysis. He previously developed a public database of New York City’s subsidized affordable housing at NYU Law School’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Prior to that, he led the development of software tools for analyzing nonprofit fundraising data for Target Analysis Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and developed the operational software for Case Shiller Weiss, Inc., the creators of the Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes. Mr. Roberts has an MPA from Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, an MA in quantitative methods for social sciences from Columbia University, and a BA in economics from Bates College.

Lionel Smith
Research Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections
Lionel Smith

Lionel Smith

Research Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Lionel Smith is a research associate within Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections. Prior to joining Vera in 2016, Dr. Smith held a variety of social science research roles, including serving as a research assistant at the Center for Drug and Health Studies at the University of Delaware. Here, he provided analytical and reporting assistance on a longitudinal study that assessed patterns of criminal involvement across the life course among a cohort of formerly incarcerated individuals. He is especially interested in how one’s experiences within the criminal justice apparatus may affect the process of criminal desistance.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Lionel received his B.A. in Urban Services Administration from Cleveland State University, M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of California, Irvine, and Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Delaware.

Sara Sullivan
Project Director, SAS Initiative, Center on Sentencing and Corrections
Sara Sullivan

Sara Sullivan

Project Director, SAS Initiative, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Sara Sullivan manages the Vera Institute of Justice’s segregation reduction work, including the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative. In addition to overseeing Vera’s national efforts, she leads Vera’s work with the New York City Department of Correction.

Ms. Sullivan led Vera’s segregation reduction work with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Her work also includes providing technical assistance to states to research, adopt, and implement new sentencing policies and evidence-based practices in probation, prison, and parole systems. Additionally, she provides assistance to the New York City’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee.

Prior to joining Vera, Ms. Sullivan worked at the Illinois Department of Corrections, where she focused on reducing the use of segregation, incorporating a risk and need assessment tool into prison and parole operations, and preparing the state for the expansion of Medicaid and the impact it would have on the justice population. She also worked in the Illinois Governor’s Office on juvenile justice and child welfare issues, and at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she coordinated a new training program for juvenile defense attorneys. Ms. Sullivan graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a degree in criminal justice.

Elena Vanko
Program Associate II, Center on Sentencing and Corrections
Elena Vanko

Elena Vanko

Program Associate II, Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Elena Vanko serves as the policy analyst for Vera’s partnerships with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Ms. Vanko recently completed work on a Vera project supporting the Tennessee Governor’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism. Before coming to Vera, she worked as a part-time research associate for the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, examining national and international drug control policies. Ms. Vanko also spent three years with the United States Program of Human Rights Watch, supporting their research and advocacy on numerous issues related to the criminal justice system, including sentencing laws and policies, prison conditions, and victims’ rights.

For three years, Ms. Vanko was a corps member with Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program that trains college students to help underserved preschoolers develop the language and literacy skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Ms. Vanko holds a BA from Tufts University and an MA with distinction from the University of Essex.

Advisory Council

Robert B. Greifinger, MD
Correctional Health Care Consultant
Robert B. Greifinger, MD

Robert B. Greifinger, MD

Correctional Health Care Consultant

Dr. Robert B. Greifinger is a health care policy and quality management consultant. His work focuses on the design, management, and quality improvement of correctional health care systems. He has extensive experience in the development and management of complex community and institutional health care programs, and strengths in the bridging of clinical and public policy interests.

Dr. Greifinger has published extensively in the area of correctional health care. He is a frequent speaker on public policy, communicable disease control, and quality management in corrections. Dr. Greifinger was the principal investigator for the report to congress on Seizing Public Health Opportunities through Correctional Health Care, published in 2002. He edited the book Public Health Behind Bars: From Prisons to Communities (Springer, New York 2007) and is co-editor of the International Journal of Prisoner Health.

Dr. Greifinger was the deputy commissioner and chief medical officer of the New York State Department of Correctional Services from 1989 to 1995. He has also served as an adjunct professor and distinguished research fellow at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and was on the board of the Academic Consortium of Criminal Justice Health. He is currently a member of the boards of directors of Prison Legal Services in New York and the National Health Law Program. Dr. Greifinger received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MD from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Craig Haney, PhD
Professor of Psychology, University of California Santa Cruz
Craig Haney, PhD

Craig Haney, PhD

Professor of Psychology, University of California Santa Cruz

Prof. Craig Haney is a distinguished professor of psychology and the director of legal studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1971, he served as one of the principal researchers on the highly publicized “Stanford Prison Experiment.” Since then, Prof. Haney has been studying the psychological effects of living and working in prison environments, and many of his analyses of those issues appear in his widely praised book Reforming Punishment: Psychological Limits to the Pains of Imprisonment (published by the American Psychological Association in 2006, and nominated for a National Book Award).

Prof. Haney’s work has taken him to numerous maximum security prisons across the United States and in several different countries, where he has evaluated conditions of confinement and interviewed prisoners about their mental health and other consequences of incarceration. In the late 1970s, Prof. Haney began to study the unique psychological effects of solitary-type confinement and, over the last several decades, he has conducted systematic, in-depth assessments of representative samples of hundreds of prisoners in segregation in a number of different states. He has served as an expert witness in several landmark cases addressing the constitutional rights of prisoners, including Toussaint v. McCarthy (1983), Madrid v. Gomez (1995), Coleman v. Gomez (1995), Ruiz v. Johnson (1999), and Brown v. Plata (2011).

In 2012, Prof. Haney was appointed to a National Academy of Sciences committee studying the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in the United States and also testified at a historic hearing before the U.S. Senate, examining the nature and effects of solitary confinement. In 2014, Prof. Haney was selected as the distinguished faculty research lecturer at University of California, Santa Cruz. Prof. Haney holds a PhD and JD from Stanford University.

Jörg Jesse
Director General, Ministry of Justice, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany
Jörg Jesse

Jörg Jesse

Director General, Ministry of Justice, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany

Jörg Jesse is director general of the Prison and Probation Administration, Acts of Clemency in the Ministry of Justice of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in Germany.

Mr. Jesse has been working in prisons since 1983 in a variety of areas, including open juvenile and young adult prisons, closed adult prisons, Prison Headquarters, and the Ministry of Justice. He worked in managerial positions from 1993 to 2003 as deputy head of the juvenile and young adult Prison of Hamelin, as head of long-term and preventive detention at the Prison Celle-Salinenmoor, and as head of Hanover Prison. He is also Vice Chair of the Council of Penological Cooperation (PC-CP), an expert working group for the Council of Europe since 2011. Mr. Jesse also has experience visiting and working with corrections systems in other European countries, including Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia.

Mr. Jesse studied psychology at the Christian Albrechts University of Kiel.

Mitch Lucas
Assistant Sheriff, Charleston County, SC
Mitch Lucas

Mitch Lucas

Assistant Sheriff, Charleston County, SC

Mitch Lucas is the assistant sheriff of Charleston County, South Carolina. He is originally from Louisville, Kentucky and came to South Carolina by way of the United States Marine Corps.

Mr. Lucas is a 30-year veteran of South Carolina law enforcement, beginning his career in 1983 with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. In 1997, Mr. Lucas became the public information officer for Sheriff Al Cannon and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. Five years later, he was promoted to major, overseeing the Administrative Services Division. In 2005, he was again promoted, this time to the rank of chief deputy, and became the jail administrator, a position he still says is the best job he ever had. Mr. Lucas then became the assistant sheriff of the largest sheriff’s office in South Carolina, with 950 employees, an annual budget of close to $70 million, a 2,100-bed jail, and full primary law enforcement capabilities, as well as support services to other local agencies. Charleston County has long been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and National Commission on Correctional Health Care, and in 2013, the jail attained American Correctional Association accreditation, which allowed Sheriff Cannon to receive the Triple Crown Award from the National Sheriffs Association.

Mr. Lucas is also currently the president of the American Jail Association, where he has worked on the Prison Rape Elimination Act, U.S. Federal Communications Commission regulations, and other important corrections-related legislation. He has presented at a number of state and national conferences and served as a consultant for the National Institute of Corrections. Mr. Lucas has received a number of professional awards, including being named the 2012 Jail Administrator of the Year by the South Carolina Jail Administrators Association.

Gregg Marcantel
Retired Secretary, New Mexico Corrections Department
Gregg Marcantel

Gregg Marcantel

Retired Secretary, New Mexico Corrections Department

Gregg Marcantel, a United States Marine Corps (USMC) veteran, is also a law enforcement veteran of over 30 years. Before his appointment to the New Mexico Corrections Department in November 2011, Secretary Marcantel was appointed deputy cabinet secretary at the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (DPS) in May 2011. Before his appointment to DPS he retired from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department (BCSD) as a captain and division commander, where he spent most of his career in complex criminal investigations.

Secretary Marcantel has successfully completed the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Academy and has served as the president of the New Mexico FBI National Academy Associates. He also attended Police Staff College in Bramshill, England, where he studied the leadership and management of serious and serial crimes. He possesses an MS in forensic and legal psychology from the University of Leicester and a BA in criminal justice from Chaminade University of Honolulu. Secretary Marcantel also holds membership in the FBI National Academy Associates, the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI-LEEDA), the Association of State Correctional Administrators, and the International Association of Law Enforcement Planners (IALEP). He also serves on a variety of government oversight boards.

Throughout his career, Secretary Marcantel has received numerous awards ranging from the Navy Achievement Medal in the USMC to national recognition by the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and receipt of the Top Cop award by the National Association of Police Organizations in Washington, DC. He has presented nationally and internationally on a host of complex criminal investigation strategies and leadership topics.

Shirley R. Moore Smeal
Executive Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Shirley R. Moore Smeal

Shirley R. Moore Smeal

Executive Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Shirley R. Moore Smeal is currently the executive deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC), a position she has held since April 2010. She is second in command of the agency and responsible for nearly 16,000 staff and over 50,000 inmates. She oversees numerous administrative, programmatic, security, and operational areas for the department. Executive Deputy Secretary Moore Smeal participated in a correctional system reform effort that resulted in the largest population reduction in the department’s history. She is responsible for implementing all provisions of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative within the department, including the complete restructuring of the community corrections system.

Executive Deputy Secretary Moore Smeal began her career in corrections in 1987 and moved through the ranks of PA DOC. In 2001, she was appointed the executive assistant to the secretary of corrections and deputy secretary for administration. She also served as deputy superintendent and then superintendent of State Correctional Institution Muncy (SCI Muncy), as well as regional deputy secretary. In 2010, she was appointed by then-Governor Edward Rendell to serve as the acting secretary of corrections, a position she held until 2011.

Executive Deputy Secretary Moore Smeal serves as chairperson for the annual Executive Women’s Leadership Conference and was chairperson for the 2014 Women Working in Corrections and Juvenile Justice Conference. She has been honored by the National Organization of Black Women in Law Enforcement’s 2012 Trailblazer Award for becoming the highest-ranking female in PA DOC. Ms. Moore Smeal is a member of the Pennsylvania Prison Warden’s Association (PPWA) and was recognized by the organization in 2012 with a lifetime achievement award. She is also a member of the American Correctional Association (ACA) and the Association of Women Executives in Corrections (AWEC), where she serves on the board of directors. She holds a BA in business administration from Edinboro University.

Danny Murillo
Research and Project Analyst
Danny Murillo

Danny Murillo

Research and Project Analyst

Danny Murillo is currently a Research and Project Analyst at The Opportunity Institute. Before that, he was a program analyst at the Vera Institute of Justice, a counselor with Rutgers University’s NJ-STEP program, and a John W. Gardner Fellow in Public Service at the University of California, Berkeley. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a degree in ethnic studies, and he was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, conducting research on the disproportionate rate of suspension of black male students in Oakland’s public schools.

Mr. Murillo was also a national policy intern at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, where he researched the economic impact of incarceration on communities of color. Also while at UC Berkeley, he cofounded the Underground Scholars Initiative, an organization dedicated to supporting students who have been personally impacted by incarceration. He has received numerous awards in recognition of his leadership and service to the university community.

Mr. Murillo was awarded the 2016 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship. He will work to empower formerly incarcerated students by creating a network of people throughout California who have successfully made the transition from incarceration to higher education.

Barbara Owen, PhD
Professor Emerita of Criminology, California State University Fresno
Barbara Owen, PhD

Barbara Owen, PhD

Professor Emerita of Criminology, California State University Fresno

Dr. Barbara Owen is a national expert in the areas of girls, women, and crime; gender issues in the criminal justice system; and women’s prison culture. She is a professor emerita of criminology at California State University, Fresno, and has extensive experience conducting ethnographies, large-scale surveys, policy studies, and program evaluations. Prior to her career in academia, Dr. Owen was a senior researcher with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The author of 20 articles and chapters and numerous technical reports, Dr. Owen’s books include In the Mix: Struggle and Survival in a Women’s Prison (SUNY Press, 1998). Along with Barbara Bloom and Stephanie Covington, she co-authored a major report, Gender-Responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders, in 2003. More recent projects include an analysis of women’s recidivism; research and policy work on prison realignment in California; co-authoring the policy report Unlocking America: Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population (a National Institute of Justice-sponsored study that investigated the context of sexual assault in women’s prisons and jails), and ethnographic work for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Dr. Owen serves as a policy advisor to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Her work with the Prison Rape Elimination Act continues through a National Institute of Corrections validation project to develop and distribute an instrument that assesses the safety and violence climate in women’s facilities. Dr. Owen also works with the Thailand Institute of Justice on international policy issues regarding women offenders. She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Rick Raemisch
Executive Director, Colorado Department of Corrections
Rick Raemisch

Rick Raemisch

Executive Director, Colorado Department of Corrections

Rick Raemisch, who has decades of experience working in numerous areas of the criminal justice system, was appointed as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections by Governor John Hickenlooper in July 2013. During his short time with the CDOC, Rick has successfully implemented prison reforms in Colorado resulting in a safe, dramatic reduction of offenders held in administrative segregation, now less than 1% of the population, and eliminating the use of administrative segregation for offenders suffering from serious mental illness. Releasing offenders from administrative segregation directly to the community has also been eliminated. Rick is recognized as a leader on prison reform and is highly sought after to lecture and participate as a subject matter expert on both the national and international level. He has testified on corrections matters before a U.S. Senate Sub-Committee involving the over use of segregation, and has participated in numerous forums on corrections at prestigious universities including Yale Law School, New York University School of Law, and New York City’s John Jay College. Rick has also assisted and been a member of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. meetings in Cape Town and Vienna to re-write prisoner standards, now known as the Mandela Rules. He has authored a number of corrections articles including in the New York Times and has also been profiled by them. Rick was the recipient of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ 2016 Sam Cochran Criminal Justice Award given in recognition of outstanding work within the criminal justice system to deal fairly and humanely with people living with mental illness.

Prior to joining the Colorado DOC, Rick was head of the Wisconsin DOC, where he was accountable for more than 96,000 inmates and individuals on probation or parole, including 1,000 juveniles. Under Rick’s leadership, Wisconsin built strong reentry initiatives and the state lowered its prison population three-consecutive years at the same time the crime rate was dropping for the first time since the state’s first prison was built in 1850’s.

Rick joined the Wisconsin Department of Corrections in 2003 as the division administrator of community corrections, overseeing 68,000 probation and parolees. Prior to taking over as the head of the Wisconsin DOC in 2007, he served as deputy secretary for two years.

In 1990 Rick was elected sheriff of Dane County in Wisconsin and was reelected four more times before entering the private sector in 1997. During this time he was named Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Executive of the Year by then Attorney General James Doyle, and has received numerous other awards for his achievements in the criminal justice system.

Rick’s career in criminal justice began in 1976 as a deputy sheriff at the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in Madison, Wisconsin and then transitioned to work as an undercover narcotics detective. Rick holds a Juris Doctor Cum Laude degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Law and has served as assistant district attorney in Dane County, Wisconsin and as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Bernard Warner
Former Secretary, Washington Department of Corrections
Bernard Warner

Bernard Warner

Former Secretary, Washington Department of Corrections

Bernie Warner has over 34 years of experience in both juvenile and adult corrections. In July of 2011, Mr. Warner was appointed by then-governor of Washington Christine Gregoire as the secretary of the state’s department of corrections, a position he held until October 2015. Secretary Warner led an agency of 8,000 employees responsible for over 35,000 offenders in 12 prisons, 15 work release facilities, and 123 community supervision offices throughout the state. He has also held executive positions in corrections in the states of Arizona, Florida, and most recently California, where he served as the director of the state juvenile justice system. In each jurisdiction, Secretary Warner has focused on comprehensive system reform based on an evidence-based model of risk, need, and responsivity.

In Washington state, Secretary Warner led several innovative initiatives, including a “mission focused” response to offenders in restrictive programs, significantly reducing the number of inmates in segregation; the piloting of a prison-based “cease-fire” model as a strategy to manage serious gang behavior; a gender-responsive strategy to ensure appropriate services for incarcerated women; and the reengineering of community corrections, providing for the first statewide implementation of the HOPE model that blends swift and certain sanctions with community-based cognitive behavioral interventions.

Secretary Warner is currently on the board of the International Corrections and Prisons Association and previously served as western region president of the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

Melvin H. Wilson
Manager, Dept. of Social Justice and Human Rights, National Association of Social Workers
Melvin H. Wilson

Melvin H. Wilson

Manager, Dept. of Social Justice and Human Rights, National Association of Social Workers

Mr. Wilson has been employed by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for more than 10 years. Currently, he is the manager of the NASW Department of Social Justice and Human Rights. He has also had a leadership role in the organization’s workforce development and affirmative action programs. Over the last 15 years, Mr. Wilson has worked with coalitions, government agencies, and legislators on numerous criminal and juvenile justice issues, including solitary confinement, racial profiling, immigration, voters’ rights, and health disparities, among others.

Mr. Wilson is currently an active member of the Justice Roundtable, a coalition of over 50 diverse national organizations that work together to advocate for improvements in the nation’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. He is a member of a number of workgroups, including reentry, collateral consequences, sentencing reform, juvenile justice, and prison reform. He has also been a member of the Social Work Solitary Confinement Task Force. Mr. Wilson has authored many of NASW’s social justice briefs and blogs on a variety of topics, including criminal justice social work and the social work perspective on solitary confinement.

Mr. Wilson previously served as the regional substance abuse administrator for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, where he was assigned to Maryland’s chief of the Department of Parole and Probation. He has an MSW and an MBA.

Nicholas Turner
President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice
Nicholas Turner

Nicholas Turner

President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice

Nicholas Turner joined Vera as its fifth president and director in August 2013. Prior to joining, he was a managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation. He was previously vice president and chief program officer at Vera.

At the Rockefeller Foundation, Mr. Turner was a member of the foundation’s senior leadership team and a co-leader of its global urban efforts. He provided leadership and strategic direction on key initiatives, including transportation policy reform in the United States to promote social, economic, and environmental interests, and redevelopment in New Orleans to advance racial and socioeconomic integration.

At Vera, which he first joined in 1998, Mr. Turner developed ideas for demonstration projects aimed at keeping troubled youth out of the justice system and easing reentry for adult prisoners. He also guided the expansion of Vera’s national work, launching and directing Vera’s state sentencing and corrections initiative, while supervising Vera’s domestic violence projects and the creation of its youth justice program. As vice president and chief program officer, Mr. Turner was responsible for the development and launch of the Prosecution and Racial Justice Program and the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons.

Prior to his work with Vera, Mr. Turner was an associate in the litigation department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York from 1997 to 1998. He was a judicial clerk for the Honorable Jack. B. Weinstein, Senior United States District Judge in Brooklyn from 1996 to 1997. Before attending law school, Nick worked with court-involved, homeless, and troubled young people at Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a Washington, DC youth services organization. Mr. Turner received his BA from Yale College and his JD from Yale Law School.

Johnny Perez
Director of U.S. Prison Programs
Johnny Perez

Johnny Perez

Director of U.S. Prison Programs

Johnny Perez is the Director of U.S. Prison Program for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, a membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He adds value, insight, and leadership to existing campaign efforts working to end the torture of solitary confinement, while building the capacity of faith leaders and directly impacted communities to engage in education and advocacy in the United States.

Drawing on the wisdom of thirteen years of direct involvement with the criminal justice system, Johnny also works to change unjust policies and practices in the criminal justice system through his participation as a member of the NYC Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee and as member of the NY Advisory Committee to The US Civil Rights Commission . Johnny is also on the board of directors of both Space on Ryder Farm and the Juvenile Law Center.

A sought after speaker, Johnny has been invited to share his thoughts on criminal justice reform at law schools and institutions of higher learning across the U.S.; including various state, regional, and national conferences on topics including the perpetual consequences of justice involvement, access to higher education, and Solitary Confinement. Johnny’s commentary has been published by The New York Times, The Fordham Law Journal, Ebony Magazine, USA Today , and the Daily News

A recent collaboration with ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign, on the challenges of reentry, yielded into its acceptance into this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Johnny has made appearances on Now This, Capital Tonight, and recently the TV Special, Rikers: What’s Next, a conversation with acclaimed journalist Bill Moyers about a future NYC without Rikers Island jail. Johnny is also a father to a teenage-adult girl and a novice violinist. You can connect with Johnny via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @mrjohnnyperez

Sites

Louisiana

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DOC) is the state agency responsible for custody and supervision of state-sentenced individuals. The department houses approximately 18,750 individuals in seven facilities. In addition to this, about 18,300 DOC individuals are housed in local facilities and roughly 2,900 are assigned to Transitional Work Programs. The DOC is actively engaged in its quest to reduce its use of restrictive housing and develop other correctional reforms affecting staff and local communities alike.

James M. Le Blanc has been secretary of the DOC since 2008. Secretary Le Blanc has devoted his life to the corrections profession in Louisiana for over 40 years. With renewed interest in criminal justice reform from the new governor, a justice reinvestment task force was created and is chaired by Secretary Le Blanc to study sentencing reform, conditions of confinement, and programming among other aspects of corrections in general. The task force is comprised of a bipartisan group of legislators, judges, law enforcement, and advocacy and religious groups.

“We are honored that we have been chosen to participate in the Vera Institute’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative, supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Our selection speaks to our own progress as we have already taken internal steps towards reforming the department’s restrictive housing policy based on current best practices. Vera’s assistance will aid us in further examining and improving our restrictive housing policies and developing new approaches to effectively managing inmate behavior.” James M. Le Blanc, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Corrections

Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Corrections (MDOC) has been a leader in promoting offender change through treatment, education, and employment programming in all ten of its facilities. With responsibility for over 10,000 individuals incarcerated throughout the state, and another 20,000 under community supervision, the department works to ensure the safety and security of all staff and offenders. Commissioner Tom Roy has led the department since 2011, and under his leadership the department has consistently innovated its practices through systematic research and training of staff and management. Recent new efforts to reduce the use of segregation have created a departmental momentum to ensure that only offenders who present a danger to others are placed in restrictive housing and only as long as necessary.

“We are very pleased to be selected to be part of the Vera Institute’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative. Vera’s expertise in the area of restrictive housing will give much value to the work we have already started. We always seek resources to improve ourselves, especially with this challenging population. The national interest in this topic will continue and we are even more optimistic with the signing of the 21st Century Cures Act by President Obama, addressing criminal justice reform measures related to mental health. Vera has had a significant influence in the area of criminal justice for many decades, and we are excited to be partnering in this important work.” Tom Roy, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Nevada

The Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) is responsible for the care, custody, and supervision of people in the state’s prison facilities. NDOC currently houses almost 14,000 individuals in 18 different correctional institutions, camps, and centers. NDOC’s new director, James Dzurenda, was appointed by Nevada’s governor to affect an atmosphere of change focused on rehabilitation, humane treatment of incarcerated individuals, and reducing recidivism. In addition, Director Dzurenda is working with a core team of NDOC staff members to develop statewide restrictive housing policy and coordinate opportunities for external community partners to provide input and ensure statewide collaboration.

As Nevada works to improve public safety throughout its correctional facilities, NDOC is committed to working with the Vera Institute of Justice to assess and safely reduce their use of segregation.

“With Vera’s assistance, Nevada will be better equipped to both reduce reliance on segregation and improve the way it is used, with the goal of preparing inmates for success when they return to their communities. This opportunity is directly in line with the mission of the department, will encourage positive development and needed reform, and will boost safety inside and outside the prison walls.” James Dzurenda, Director, Nevada Department of Corrections

Utah

The Utah Department of Corrections (UDOC) oversees the supervision and custody of people incarcerated in the state’s prisons. UDOC operates two state prison facilities that house approximately 1,500 and 3,800 people, respectively. The state also contracts with 20 county jails throughout Utah to house an additional 1,500 individuals.

Rollin E. Cook was appointed as the department’s executive director in April 2013. As head of the department, Cook leads the prison system, probation and parole, and programming related to rehabilitation. Prior to his appointment, Cook served in Salt Lake County’s corrections system for 23 years and has worked with the local, national, and international law-enforcement community through participation in committees and associations.

Executive Director Cook and the UDOC are committed to working with the Vera Institute of Justice to study its use of segregation, find safe housing alternatives, and improve behavioral and health outcomes for people in restrictive housing by providing them with opportunities for education and mental health treatment.

“The Utah Department of Corrections is proud to be among the states selected for technical assistance from Vera to advance our efforts to use less restrictive housing through a structured program. Over the past 18 months, Utah has significantly reduced our percentage of people in restricted housing and has provided them with opportunities for education, mental health treatment, and other programs in a safe and secure setting. We are dedicated to improving these efforts and look forward to working with Vera to enhance our practices and learn from their expertise.” Rollin Cook. Executive Director, Utah Department of Corrections

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) is responsible for the care, custody, and supervision of people in the state’s prison facilities. VADOC is comprised of 41 facilities including major institutions, field units, and work centers housing more than 30,000 individuals. In 2011, VADOC identified a crucial need to reduce the number of individuals in restrictive housing and to address the needs of individuals released directly to the community from this setting. These goals became part of VADOC’s ongoing priorities to advance its focus on evidence-based practices, effective reentry, safety, and security.

Harold W. Clarke was appointed to director of the VADOC in November 2010. Director Clarke has more than 40 years of correctional experience and has since become a recognized change agent for corrections and champion of offender reentry efforts. Director Clarke was challenged to implement reform efforts to improve offender reentry and reduce recidivism when he was brought to Virginia. Upon arriving at VADOC, Director Clarke recognized that a cultural shift to balance the traditional command-and-control model prevalent in correctional systems with more progressive evidence-based decision making was needed in the department in order to meet the challenge.

“Since 2011, the Virginia Department of Corrections has made significant progress in reducing the use of restrictive housing. While we are pleased with the progress we have made, including recognition by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Council of State Government’s Southern Legislative Conference, we also know that there is more work to be done. We are delighted to be selected for this initiative and we welcome the opportunity to learn and share ideas with Vera and the participating departments.” Harold Clarke, Director, Virginia Department of Corrections

Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) is the state agency responsible for custody and supervision of state-sentenced individuals. NDCS operates 10 facilities and manages 5,227 inmates (as of January 1, 2015), representing 159 percent of the design capacity of 3,283. NDCS is led by Director Scott Frakes, who has over 30 years of experience in corrections and was previously the deputy director of the Washington Department of Corrections.

Nebraska, under the leadership of a new director and with guidance from the state legislature, is in the process of reforming their criminal justice system and their use of segregation, known as restrictive housing. Nebraska has passed several bills as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which will work to prevent overcrowding in the state prison system. They have also passed a law that proscribes the use of restrictive housing and establishes a workgroup to help with its reform.

Director Frakes and the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services are very committed and pleased to work with the Vera Institute of Justice to assess and safely reduce their use of segregation.

“Nebraska’s selection … will ensure the state’s department of correctional services’ restrictive housing reforms are focused, effective, and research-based. The department is excited about getting the project underway and looking forward to the results enjoyed by other state correctional systems.”

Scott Frakes, director, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services

New York City, New York

The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) provides for the care, custody, and control of persons accused of crimes or convicted and sentenced to one year or less of jail time.The department manages 15 facilities, 10 of which are located on Rikers Island. In addition, the department operates two hospital prison wards (Bellevue and Elmhurst hospitals) and court holding facilities in criminal, supreme, and family court in each borough.In FY 2015, the department handled 67,672 admissions each year and managed an average daily population of10,240 incarcerated people.

Joseph Ponte was appointed commissioner of the department in April 2014 and brings with him 40 years of corrections experience. Since joining the department, the commissioner’s primary focus has been on reducing violence. He is reforming how the department manages incarcerated people, with the goals of reducing violence, reducing the department’s overreliance on punitive segregation, reducing the unnecessary use of force, and improving services for the mentally ill.

“We are honored to be chosen to participate in the Vera Institute of Justice’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative….Our selection speaks to our progress as DOC works to promote a culture of safety at all our facilities. DOC is committed to reducing the use of segregation and to facilitating rehabilitation. We ended punitive segregation for adolescent inmates last December, and we are working toward ending punitive segregation for 18- to 21-year-olds by next January. These reforms will promote better behavior, psychological health, and emotional well-being among our inmates and help to create safer jails for staff and inmates alike. The SAS Initiative and the technical assistance of the renowned Vera Institute [of Justice] will help DOC move these initiatives forward using best practice and help New York City return to its place at the forefront of the corrections field.”

Joe Ponte, commissioner, New York City Department of Correction

North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS)’s Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice is responsible for the care, custody, and supervision of people in the state’s prison facilities. NCDPS oversees 56 facilities, which house approximately 38,000 inmates. The division’s commissioner, W. David Guice, has over 30 years of experience in community corrections and has served in the North Carolina House of Representatives, where he was the primary sponsor of the Justice Reinvestment Act.

Since the signing of the Justice Reinvestment Act in 2011, North Carolina has made remarkable progress in criminal justice reform: the prison population has declined by nearly 4,000 inmates, 11 state prisons have been closed, and anyone with a felony conviction receives nine to 12 months of post-release supervision to assist with their reentry into the community.

As NCDPS continues to explore ways to improve North Carolina’s prisons, it is committed to working with the Vera Institute of Justice to reduce and reform the use of restrictive housing.

“This is an opportunity for North Carolina to further examine and improve our restrictive housing policies and to develop new approaches to managing inmate behavior that will lead to positive outcomes. Intensive programming and mental health treatment will be key components to how we approach restrictive housing in the future.”

W. David Guice, commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, North Carolina Department of Public Safety

Middlesex County, New Jersey

The Middlesex County Office of Adult Corrections and Youth Services is the agency responsible for providing a safe and secure environment for pretrial inmates, sentenced inmates, and staff in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Its adult correction center has a capacity of 1,436 inmates, with a 2014 average daily population of 878. The facility manages 20 separate housing units with classifications that range from daily work release to full maximum administrative segregation.

Since 2014, the Middlesex County Department of Corrections has been led by Warden Mark Cranston, who has over two and a half decades of experience in corrections. Mr. Cranston began his career as a corrections officer with the New York City Department of Correction and has served in leadership positions within New York City and the New Jersey Department of Correction. He is also a current member of the New Jersey County Jail Warden’s Association.

Middlesex County is very committed and pleased to work with the Vera Institute of Justice to safely reduce their use of segregation.

“Our work with Vera will enhance our ongoing efforts to operate a safe and secure jail while providing inmates the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves. This collaboration will lead to a more thoughtful approach in the way that we manage the inmate population.”

H. James Poloos, Middlesex County freeholder and chair of the county’s Public Safety and Health Committee

Oregon

The Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) is responsible for the care and custody of adults sentenced to prison for more than 12 months. ODOC operates 14 state prisons, which house approximately 14,600 incarcerated people. Director Colette S. Peters has led ODOC since 2012. Prior to assuming leadership of ODOC, Director Peters spent 20 years working in the public safety system, including serving as Inspector General for ODOC and director of the Oregon Youth Authority.

ODOC is recognized nationally among correctional agencies for providing adults in custody with the cognitive, educational, and job skills needed to become productive citizens when they transition back into their communities. Due to these efforts, Oregon’s recidivism rate is about 28 percent. Moreover, from working in partnership with other stakeholders to implement Oregon’s Justice Reinvestment Act (House Bill 3194) to complying with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, ODOC has a proven track record of progress and reform.

ODOC is committed to working with the Vera Institute of Justice to study its use of segregated housing, find safe housing alternatives, and create opportunities for more productive time in segregation when it is used.

“The Oregon Department of Corrections recognizes that segregation is an important management tool, yet it should be a last resort and a productive form of confinement. We are pleased to receive this technical assistance from Vera, and look forward to advancing our safe and effective solutions to managing all special populations of our adults in custody.”

Colette S. Peters, director, Oregon Department of Corrections