Research

People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Prison Policy Initiative
This little think tank does cutting edge advocacy on criminal justice, especially its effect on democracy. I’m president of the board.

The signature issue is “prison gerrymandering” – an issue I first identified in 2002.  The trouble is that the US census counts people in prison where their bodies are held, not where they come from. So urban, minority (Democratic-leaning) districts are depopulated for rural, white (Republican-leaning) districts, even though the “imported constituents” can’t vote and have no real part in the community. Since we uncovered the issue, we’ve been engaged in efforts to fix it.
 NY gerrymanding image

One in five young African American men in Baltimore is in prison or jail.
That Baltimore finding is in the spirit of a similar study I did in Washington DC in 1997 (one in two young black men in DC is under justice supervision – in prison or jail, probation or parole) and that the Sentencing Project releases periodically.

No, I’m not claiming that they’re all innocent. But we need to think hard about locking up so many people in a free society.

During my time as an SEIU union researcher I had the privilege and opportunity to work on:

  • Real Values for Texas: Changing the rules for property tax assessments so large commercial property owners pay their fair share (like homeowners do).
  • Moving Oregon Forwards: Showing how to balance the state budget in tight times – with reasonable cuts, new efficiencies, and untapped revenues.
  • New Solutions Michigan: Showing how to balance the state budget in tight times – with reasonable cuts, new efficiencies, and untapped revenues.
  • Pitfalls and Promises: Critical report about potential prison privatization in Michigan.
  • New Hampshire Prison Watch: Raising doubts about potential prison privatization in New Hampshire.

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