The 21-member private Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons is pursuing a year-long effort to “find salable ways to address” problems faced by the nation’s 2.2 million inmates and the 750,000 people who staff prisons, says the Washington Post. With an estimated $60 billion spent annually on corrections, some experts see a shift in politics that could create openings for creativity in sentencing, incarceration, and parole.
Michael Jacobson, former director of New York City’s corrections department, says state budget crunches and dropping crime rates are creating a “historical moment.” Jacobson heads the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York-based nonprofit that is the commission’s main sponsor. “I hope this is not just another commission,” James Bruton, who directed the supermaximum Oak Park Heights prison in Minnesota, told the group. “This country is in sad shape when it comes to prisons.”