vera institute


We still put children in jail for being late to class

  • Across the country, thousands of kids are still thrown in juvenile detention for violations known as “status offenses” — offenses that wouldn’t be considered crimes if not for the age of the offender. 
  • A new report by the Vera Institute of Justice shows that 100,100 kids were locked up this way in 2014, the most recent year with available data
  • They’re the kind of offenses that child psychologists will say are a natural part of growing up. But if you’re black, poor, LGBTQ or female, you often don’t get the benefit of the doubt: You get jail.
  • Some status offenses, like underage drinking, are crimes. But in some states, talking back to your teacher, disrupting the class or skipping school can be referred to courts for disciplinary action. In Wisconsin, a child can be referred to the court for being late to class five times. Read more (8/8/17)

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How bail destroys lives and makes innocent people plead guilty

  • When Chicago resident Lavette Mays, 47, was arrested in March 2015 after an alleged altercation with her mother-in-law, bail was set at $250,000. That’s unusually high, compared to both the national average of about $55,000, according to a 2015 Vera Institute for Justice study, and the $1,000 to $10,000 range local lawyer Dennis Dwyer estimates on his website as typical for domestic battery charges in Cook County.
  • Mays said in a phone interview she’s not sure why the prosecutors thought she was such a flight risk: The mother of two had professional contracts with the city, driving children to and from school in her neighborhood in the East South Side of Chicago. 
  • “I had a business and I had never been arrested before, so they told me it would be fine,” she said. “They told me I should be able to leave. It didn’t happen that way.”
  • The problem was that Mays couldn’t afford the 10% down or “$25,000 to walk,” so she waited more than a year in Cook County Jail for a judge to hear her case: “I sat there for 14 months because I wasn’t able to make bail.”
  • One theory that lawyers who later helped Mays have floated, she said, is she was hurt by coming to court with a private attorney — not a public defender — leading the judge and prosecutors to assume she had money. Read more. (8/3/2017 2:20 PM)

It’s not Norman’s fault. He doesn’t even know he does these things. 


National Women’s Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico 2014

Academic Transgressions I: Masters Tools in the Master’s House? The Good, Bad and Ugly of Earning a WGS PhD

At last year’s NWSA conference, former Women’s and Gender Studies (“WGS”) PhD students discussed their transition to life as junior faculty members in WGS or related programs. This year, our roundtable continues this conversation by turning a critical lens on the WGS graduate programs that are producing these scholars. We ask: What are the expectations and experiences of students in these programs? Of what import is the notion of “employability,” particularly when WGS programs lack a realistic professional development component? How has our feminist training shaped us as instructors, researchers and social justice advocates in and outside the academy?


Bianca I Laureano, MA The LatiNegr@s Project, Independent Scholar

Kimberly A. Williams, PhD, Mount Royal University

Ryan Shanahan, PhD, Vera Institute of Justice

Stacia Kock, PhD, Illinois State University

Sarah Tillery, PhD, Portland Community College