Publications

Stan Stojkovic

Prison Oversight and Prison Leadership


Description:

This article explores the benefits that prison oversight offers to prison agency leaders. It argues that the confluence of democratic values, questions of prison effectiveness, and societal expectations requires transparency of correctional institutions, and the oversight function is critical to both how prisoners are treated as well as how prison leaders and managers are judged.


Stojkovic, Stan. “Prison Oversight and Prison Leadership.” Pace Law Review 30, no. 5 (Fall 2010): 1476–89.

Andrew Coyle

Professionalism in Corrections and the Need for External Scrutiny: An International Overview


Description:

Written from the perspective of a former prison director, this article examines the ways in which external oversight of prisons and jails can benefit corrections administrators and staff.


Coyle, Andrew. “Professionalism in Corrections and the Need for External Scrutiny: An International Overview.” Pace Law Review 30, no. 5 (Fall 2010): 1503–11.

Sarah Geraghty & Melanie Velez

Bringing Transparency and Accountability to Criminal Justice Institutions in the South


Description:

This article describes conditions in correctional institutions in the southern United States, institutional resistance to transparency and accountability, the limited role that courts can play in protecting people in custody in these states from abusive practices, and the role of the media and the public in demanding that these institutions are accountable to the people who fund their operations.


Sarah Geraghty & Melanie Velez. "Bringing Transparency and Accountability to Criminal Justice Institutions in the South." 2 Stanford Law and Policy Review 22, no. 2 (2011): 455–88.

Jonathan Simon

Penal Monitoring in the United States: Lessons from the American Experience and
 Prospects for Change


Description:

This article describes the ways in which independent monitoring can play a crucial role in making correctional governance both more legitimate and more effective at promoting the human rights of prisoners. It draws on examples of European models of oversight to contrast with the lack of independent correctional oversight in the United States.


Simon, Jonathan. “Penal Monitoring in the United States: Lessons from the American Experience and Prospects for Change.” Criminal Law and Social Change 70 (2018): 161–73.

Sharon Dolovich

The Failed Regulation and Oversight of American Prisons


Description:

A law review article that describes the regulatory failures of the three branches of government to hold prison agencies accountable for their obligation to keep people in prison safe and to provide for their basic needs.


Dolovich, Sharon. “The Failed Regulation and Oversight of American Prisons.” Annual Review of Criminology 5 (2022): 153–77.

Michele Deitch and William Bucknell

Locked Out, Looking In: How Correctional Oversight Agencies are Adapting During the COVID Crisis


Description:

This report highlights the creative strategies that oversight bodies used to gather information about what was happening behind bars during the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when their access to prisons and jails was limited or restricted. The report is intended to serve as a resource document for independent correctional oversight bodies and other organizations that want to increase the transparency and accountability of prisons and jails.


Deitch, Michele, and William Bucknell. “Locked Out, Looking In: How Correctional Oversight Agencies Are Adapting During the COVID Crisis.” The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin, November 2020.

Michele Deitch

Independent Oversight Is Essential for a Safe and Healthy Prison System


Description:

Published as part of the Brennan Center for Justice’s series on “Punitive Excess,” this short essay describes the importance of independent correctional oversight and how it can help prevent harm behind bars, discusses how the United States is an anomaly on the world stage in the absence of routine correctional oversight, and highlights the trend towards establishing more oversight bodies in the U.S..


Deitch, Michele. “Independent Oversight Is Essential for a Safe and Healthy Prison System.” Brennan Center for Justice, November 3, 2021. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/independent-oversight-essential-safe-and-healthy-prison-system.

Andrew Cohen

Qualified Immunity is the Scourge of Prison Reform


Description:

This essay was published as part of the Brennan Center’s series on “punitive excess,” and discusses the ways in which court interpretations of the concept of qualified immunity impede prison reform efforts.


Cohen, Andrew. “Qualified Immunity Is the Scourge of Prison Reform.” Brennan Center for Justice, January 7, 2020. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/qualified-immunity-scourge-prison-reform.

Michele Deitch

But Who Oversees the Overseers? The Status of Prison and Jail Oversight in the United States


Description:

This in-depth article provides comprehensive background information about the nature, value, and history of correctional oversight; documents the shifting landscape and increasing momentum around the oversight issue over the last decade; highlights key distinctions between prison and jail oversight; and provides a comprehensive assessment of the state of prison and jail oversight in the U.S. today. The article includes tables listing and categorizing every correctional oversight body in the United States as of 2020.


Deitch, Michele. “But Who Oversees the Overseers? The Status of Prison and Jail Oversight in the United States.” American Journal of Criminal Law 47, no. 2 (2020): 207–74.

Brenda Smith

Promise and Peril: PREA’s Efforts to Regulate An End to Prison Rape


Description:

This article discusses the development and implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) that passed unanimously in the United States Congress in 2003 and the PREA Standards, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012. The article posits that the Standards, which require routine audits of prisons and jails to be conducted by independent and qualified professionals, created a baseline for evaluating and subsequently holding corrections agencies accountable for incidences of sexual abuse that occur at their facilities.


Smith, Brenda V. “Promise Amid Peril: PREA’s Efforts to Regulate an End to Prison Rape.” American Criminal Law Review 57 (2020): 1599–1635.

Michele Deitch

Raising Arizona’s Commitment to Health and Safety: The Need for Independent Oversight of Arizona’s Prison System


Description:

This article examines the serious and long-term problems in the Arizona prison system and describes how an oversight body that monitors conditions inside prisons can help address those concerns, especially given the Arizona prison agency’s failure to abide by federal court remedial orders. This case study provides guidance to state policymakers interested in how an independent prison oversight mechanism could help promote healthier and safer prison conditions and keep legislators and the public better informed about what is happening inside these institutions.


Deitch, Michele. “Raising Arizona’s Commitment to Health and Safety: The Need for Independent Oversight of Arizona’s Prison System.” Arizona State Law Journal 52 (2020): 811–43.

Ruth Delaney, Ram Subramanian, Alison Shames, and Nicholas Turner

Reimagining Prison


Description:

This report is the culmination of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Reimagining Prison Project, an 18-month initiative that brought together correctional officials, incarcerated people, policymakers, and the general public in order to envision a transformation of U.S. prisons and jails. The focus of the project was improving conditions of confinement, increasing transparency and oversight, and drawing lessons from international corrections models on how correctional facilities in the U.S. can implement the principle of respect for human dignity.


Delaney, Ruth, Ram Subramanian, Alison Shames, and Nicholas Turner. “Reimagining Prison.” Vera Institute of Justice, October 2018.