New Vision, New Voices

The New Frontier and Next Generation of Correctional Oversight: Centering Decarceration and Abolition

Building from the leading scholarship on correctional oversight which identifies the attributes needed for effectiveness and the experience of the Board and CANY, we have an emergent roadmap and rich case studies to review the advantages and challenges of using decarceration as the goal. This roadmap will address strategies such as: documenting structural outcomes across jurisdictions; radical transparency including public distribution of all policies and data; creating a platform for the perspectives of people most affected by incarceration to shape change; public hearings; media; and community engagement and partnership. 

  • Martha King, M.P.P-U.R.P, Independent Consultant
  • Jennifer Scaife, M.F.A., M.A., Executive Director, Correctional Association of New York

(De)Carceral Jail Administration

Sheriffs and county commissioners operate and fund the county jails that house roughly a quarter of this country’s 2.3 million prisoners.  They frequently describe themselves as confronted by an incarceration problem beyond their control, disclaiming responsibility for their contributions to mass incarceration’s supply and demand sides by framing their institutional ambit as one of reactive fiscal management rather proactive criminal justice policymaking.  This article queries whether they are indeed disempowered administrators performing their duties at the mercy of a mass criminalization and detention machine they cannot steer.  Instead, it argues, they play important roles in furthering or stemming the carceral crisis.

  • Aaron Littman, J.D., Binder Clinical Teaching Fellow, UCLA School of Law

In the Spotlight: Correctional Employees’ Viewpoints on External Oversight

Researchers studying police oversight have recognized the importance of stakeholder buy-in to oversight. More specifically, academics studying police oversight have used surveys and interviews to examine stakeholders’ perspectives regarding procedural justice and legitimate authority as it applies to the police oversight process. In the correctional oversight literature, there has been discussion of the value of stakeholder buy-in to the oversight process, but there is little evidence-based research regarding stakeholder perspectives of correctional oversight. This paper utilizes social science research to determine whether police oversight research regarding stakeholder perspectives on procedural justice and legitimate authority are useful for better understanding correctional oversight.

  • Melanie Worsley, J.D., Associate Professor & Chair, Criminal Justice & Legal Studies, Washburn University

Blowing the Whistle on Prison Conditions: Exploring the Potential for Prison Oversight through Whistleblowing Policies

Recent political developments have highlighted the importance of transparency and accountability in government, calling into question the degree to which the law grants or inhibits excessive use of power and discretion on the part of public servants. One mechanism to enhance accountability of government institutions is when public servants come forward to blow the whistle on practices that violate the public trust but are hidden from public view. Some laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation while others require whistleblowing by certain employees. Internal Revenue Service employees, for example, are required by law to disclose any attempt by high-level executive branch officials to influence audits. While members of the Armed Services are not required to the blow the whistle, they are protected by law if they do so. In the law enforcement context, some research shows that mandatory whistleblowing policies foster a departmental culture where disclosing misconduct is viewed as a duty (Rothwell and Baldwin 2007). Though law enforcement and corrections agencies operate under different degrees of public scrutiny, the duties and challenges associated with each profession are sufficiently similar to develop hypotheses about the merits of various forms of whistleblowing policies as tools for prison oversight. 

  • Nancy LaVigne, Ph.D., Vice President, Justice Policy, Urban Institute

Session moderated by Cathleen Beltz, J.D., Assistant Inspector General, Los Angeles County Office of the Inspector General