Articles by Leah Wang
- Racial disparities in diversion: A research roundup
Research shows diversion “works,” reducing harmful outcomes and increasing access to social services. However, studies also suggest diversion is routinely denied to people of color, sending them deeper into the criminal legal system. We review the research and remind practitioners that most diversion programs aren’t designed around racial equity — but should be.
Mar 7, 2023
- New data: Police use of force rising for Black, female, and older people; racial bias persists
New survey data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on police interactions in 2019 and 2020 provide the broadest look at relations between police officers and the public. The findings leave a lot to be desired (as they’re primarily pre-pandemic), but the message is clear: police are still a massive presence in our communities, and they don’t always provide the solutions and safety we need.
Dec 22, 2022
- Mail scanning: A harsh and exploitative new trend in prisons
In at least 14 states, people in state prisons are falling victim to a scan: Prisons are replacing physical mail with scanned copies, a policy that benefits private companies.
Nov 17, 2022
- The state prison experience: Too much drudgery, not enough opportunity
An underutilized government dataset goes deep into daily life in state prisons — including work assignments, programming, and discipline — revealing lost opportunities for rehabilitation, education, and hope.
Sep 2, 2022
- Both sides of the bars: How mass incarceration punishes families
Government survey results illuminate the broader consequences of locking up people with children.
Aug 11, 2022
- Prisons are a daily environmental injustice
On Earth Day, many people contemplate past and future demands for clean air, clean water, and protected landscapes. But society’s calls for a healthier environment rarely extend to incarcerated people, many of whom are confined in toxic detention facilities. We recap some aspects of how prisons leave both people and planet worse off.
Apr 20, 2022
- New data on formerly incarcerated people’s employment reveal labor market injustices
Newly released data doubles down on what we’ve reported before: Formerly incarcerated people face huge obstacles to finding stable employment, leading to detrimental society-wide effects. Considering the current labor market, there may be plenty of jobs available, but they don’t guarantee stability or economic mobility for this vulnerable population.
Feb 8, 2022
- Research roundup: The positive impacts of family contact for incarcerated people and their families
The research is clear: visitation, mail, phone, and other forms of contact between incarcerated people and their families have positive impacts for everyone — including better health, reduced recidivism, and improvement in school. Here’s a roundup of over 50 years of empirical study, and a reminder that prisons and jails often pay little more than lip service to the benefits of family contact.
Dec 21, 2021
- Recent studies shed light on what reproductive “choice” looks like in prisons and jails
States that are otherwise hostile to abortion rights are especially likely to make it difficult for incarcerated people.
Dec 8, 2021
- The U.S. criminal justice system disproportionately hurts Native people: the data, visualized
We’re lucky when criminal justice data is broken down by race and ethnicity enough to see how Native populations are criminalized and incarcerated. Here’s a roundup of what we know.
Oct 8, 2021
- Unsupportive environments and limited policies: Pregnancy, postpartum, and birth during incarceration
Making up for a serious gap in government data collection and understanding, researchers are discovering what pregnant incarcerated women should expect when they’re expecting (or when they give birth while in custody). Findings indicate that jails, prisons, and youth facilities have yet to adequately recognize pregnancy and postpartum needs either in policy or in practice.
Aug 19, 2021
- Rise in jail deaths is especially troubling as jail populations become more rural and more female
New data show record high deaths of people locked up in jail, as jail populations have shifted toward smaller, rural jails and growing numbers of women. A lack of accountability and acknowledgement of women’s unique disadvantages all but ensures more deaths to come.
Jun 23, 2021
- New data: State prisons are increasingly deadly places
New data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that state prisons are seeing alarming rises in suicide, homicide, and drug and alcohol-related deaths.
Jun 8, 2021