Violence in prisons is a a problem in too many places, and the lack of reliable data to measure violence is a serious impediment to enhancing safety, a private commission examining prison conditions has concluded. Next week, the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons will issue a report on “violence and abuse in U.S. jails and prisons, the impact on public safety and public health, and how correctional facilities nationwide can become safer and more effective.” The study will be presented to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Corrections and Rehabilitation June 8.
Among other key findings of the panel: poor medical and mental health care in correctional facilities, the result of inadequate funding, puts prisoners, staff, and the public health at risk; and expensive, long-term high-security segregation can exacerbate violence in prisons and contribute to recidivism after release. The 20-member panel is co-chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas de B. Katzenbach and John J. Gibbons, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. It is funded through the New York City-based Vera Institute of Justice.