Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An Interesting Resource for Free Criminal Justice Material

I just learned about a resource that could prove very useful to researchers in the area of criminal justice. To back up, the Executive Director of the the Prison Policy Initiative (“PPI”), Peter Wagner, spoke at the Law School on February 10th. The mission of PPI is to “document the impact of mass incarceration on individuals, communities, and the national welfare in order to empower the public to improve criminal justice policy.” 
In addition to their attacks on various inequities of the prison system, PPI also works to make tools available to help bring about change in the areas of criminal justice on which it focuses. These tools include the PPI Research Clearinghouse and visual data aids.
The Research Clearinghouse contains links to 1,700+ empirical criminal justice reports and publications. The reports and publication are classified in 31 topics such as Prison and the Economy, Prison Gerrymandering, International Incarceration Comparisons, to name just three. There is also an option to do a keyword search or simple Boolean searches.
Another interesting resource on the site are graphs created by the PPI staff illustrating various issues of interest in the criminal justice arena. For example, there are charts illustrating differences in rates of application of New York’s stop and frisk policy, the effect of prison gerrymandering, and race, ethnicity, age, gender and the prison population, among other topics.

Finally, PPI has a strong list of legal resources for incarcerated people on their site (under “legal resource database”) that they keep updated.
In the interest of full disclosure (and pride), Peter Wagner is a 2003 graduate of the Law School, and the seed for PPI was planted during a research project he became involved with while here at the Law School.

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