Since coming to Harvard in 2007, he has worked with Kaia Stern, a lecturer in ethics at Harvard Divinity School, to take groups of undergraduates into Massachusetts state prisons for courses on urban sociology. The Harvard students learn alongside inmates who are also pursuing bachelor’s degrees—and in the process, learn to view issues of crime and punishment in a more nuanced way. Because of this experience, Western, a married father of three daughters, has gained empathy for Jerry and others who have committed violent crimes. “Often we want to say that people in prison are criminal and evil and unredeemable, or that they’re innocent and victims of circumstance,” says Western. “The truth is that they’re neither of those things. You can do some very terrible things in your life and yet be deeply human at the same time.”
Excerpt from The Prison Problem
Justice Policy Institute - Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Have Improved Public Safety and Outcomes for Youth
The Justice Policy Institute issued "Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut", which highlights the past two decades of Connecticut's successful efforts to improve responses to youth who engage in delinquent behavior and to end the automatic prosecution of 16 and 17 year-olds in adult court, as well as reduce the number of youth placed into detention centers, correctional training schools, and/or other residential facilities. Specifically, the state reduced residential commitments from 680 in 2000 to 216 in 2011 (nearly 70%), even though most 16 year-olds, who were previously treated as adults, are now handled in the juvenile system. The state has also closed one of its three state-operated detention centers, and reduced the under 18 population in Connecticut's adult prisons from 403 in January 2007 to 151 in July 2012. Meanwhile, Connecticut expanded its investment in evidence-based, family focused adolescent treatment programs from $300,000 in 2000 to $39 million in 2009.