Numerous studies have shown how Black Americans have been negatively impacted by the criminal justice system. Bruce Western, a professor at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Justice Lab, explains how the prison system has created second class citizenship.

As members of the Justice Lab at Columbia University, we stand in solidarity with the over 3,000 graduate students who are members of the Graduate Workers of Columbia University (GWC-UAW Local 2110).

One year ago, as the COVID-19 outbreak hit our nation, many probation and parole officials throughout the country sought to limit the impact of the coronavirus. The pandemic spawned several emergency measures and innovations within probation and parole systems to mitigate the suffering — from transforming vacant hotels into homes that facilitated the release of people jailed for parole violations to terminating fees for probation and unpaid tickets that too often land people behind bars. 

Written testimony of Lael Chester and Vincent Schiraldi regarding H.B. 111/133, on legislation to gradually raise the upper age of juvenile jurisdiction for misdemeanor cases

Columbia Justice Lab praises historic Washington Supreme Court ruling requiring judges consider youth before imposing life without parole sentence.

The Justice Lab and The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform (Lippman Commission) released a groundbreaking report uncovering how much New York State and local governments spend on incarcerating individuals for technical violations of parole rules — acts such as not reporting to a parole officer, living at an unapproved residence, missing curfew, or failing drug or alcohol tests.

New York spends billions operating prisons and jails with disappointing public safety benefits and severe racial inequities. Our state sends more people back to prison for technical parole violations — things like missing appointments or staying out past curfew — than any other state. [...] This is a costly and ineffective way to improve safety and help people succeed after prison — the two purposes of parole. Our just-released research found that, in 2019, New York spent at least $319 million incarcerating people for parole violations.

New York imprisons more people for technical parole violations than any other state, and at a rate almost three times higher than the national average. A new report from Columbia University, shared with the Times Union, estimates there are about 35,000 under parole supervision at a given time. Two years ago, more than 7,200 people were re-incarcerated for rule violations. The re-incarceration of those individuals cost taxpayers at least $683 million, the report estimates.


The January 2021 edition of the Journal of Pediatrics — a publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics — featured an article on harm reduction and developmentally appropriate treatment for young adults with substance use disorders. Titled “The Justice System and Young Adults With Substance Use Disorders,” the article was authored by two members of the Columbia Justice Lab’s Emerging Adult Justice Project: Lael Chester, Director of the program, and Selen Siringil Perker, a Senior Research Associate.

Now with President-elect Joe Biden positioned to take office this upcoming January, he has a chance to rewrite history by rebuilding a new type of justice in America. This will require taking on our nation’s historic obsession with prisons and mass incarceration and gutting a criminal justice system that was never intended to protect Black, Indigineous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. 

Tens of thousands of prison inmates in Massachusetts will be among the first to be offered coronavirus vaccines, before home health aides, seniors and medically vulnerable residents of the state.

The Justice Lab joined top university experts in calling on the CDC and states to prioritize incarcerated people and correctional staff in early-phase distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

The District of Columbia Council passed legislation on Tuesday that would give people who committed crimes as young adults a chance to have their sentences reduced, reflecting a growing national debate over whether offenders in their late teens and early 20s should be treated the same as older people when it comes to sentencing. [...]

As Americans grapple with how — or whether — to gather with loved ones this holiday season, the roughly two million people confined in the nation’s prisons and jails face an even grimmer challenge: how to stay alive inside a system being ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. [...]

Over 50 current elected prosecutors joined 90+ current and former probation and parole chiefs in signing on to the statement spearheaded by Executives Transforming Probation and Parole (EXiT) calling for probation and parole systems to be smaller, less punitive, and more equitable.