• Description

Prison in America causes individual, community, and generational pain and deprivation. Built on a system of racist policies and practices that has disproportionately impacted people of color, mass incarceration has decimated communities and families. But the harsh conditions within prisons neither ensure safety behind the walls nor prevent crime and victimization in the community.

In this report, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) reimagines the how, what, and why of incarceration and asserts a new governing principle on which to ground prison policy and practice: human dignity. Basing American corrections practice on human dignity acknowledges and responds to the role formal state punishment systems have played in creating and perpetuating inequality. Vera proposes three practice principles to give life to this tenet: (1) respect the intrinsic worth of each human being; (2) elevate and support personal relationships; and (3) respect a person's capacity to grow and change.