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Independent Oversight Is Essential for a Safe and Healthy Prison System

Nov. 3, 2021
Published as part of the Brennan Center for Justice’s series on punitive excess, Michele identifies independent correctional oversight as a critical but often overlooked tool that provides a window into one of our most opaque public institutions, one that denies elected officials the option of remaining purposefully ignorant about correctional conditions.
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Dead Man Waiting: A brief profile of deaths in Texas prisons among people approved for parole release

June 1, 2021
In a first-of-its-kind analysis, “Dead Man Waiting,” shows that while deaths among parole-approved people increased during the COVID period, this population was already dying in large numbers from other chronic health issues while awaiting release. The report was the subject of a full-length NBC News NOW story, featuring families of people who died after parole approval, as well as several other prominent news outlets.
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But Who Oversees the Overseers? The Status of Prison and Jail Oversight in the United States

May 6, 2021
Updating and expanding upon Michele’s 50-state inventory of prison oversight models published in 2010, this article provides background information about the nature, value, and history of correctional oversight; documents the shifting landscape and increasing momentum around the oversight issue over the last decade; and provides a comprehensive assessment of the state of prison and jail oversight in the US today.
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Pandemic Gender Gap Behind Bars: Meeting the Needs of Women in Custody During COVID-19 and Planning for the Future

May 1, 2021
This report examines the distinct harms that women in custody experience during incarceration and highlights the ways in which correctional agencies’ COVID-19 restrictions are exacerbating those harms. The report recommends a set of gender-responsive approaches to COVID precautions in corrections facilities that would simultaneously strengthen public health and improve outcomes for women, their families, and communities.
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Hidden Figures: Rating the COVID Data Transparency of Prisons, Jails, and Juvenile Agencies

March 7, 2021
Using a grading rubric we developed from key metrics every state should be reporting with respect to COVID in correctional facilities, “Hidden Figures” reveals a troubling lack of transparency about data regarding the spread, toll and management of COVID-19 in state prisons, local jails and state-run juvenile facilities. The report also offers a set of recommendations on ways corrections agencies and state and local leaders could improve data transparency.
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Correcting Corrections: Lessons for Prisons and Jails in a Post-COVID World

Jan. 4, 2021
The ultimate lesson of the COVID crisis in our prisons and jails is this: Addressing the issues it has surfaced is not just a good idea, it is a moral imperative. We need to have the vision and courage to correct corrections and work toward a system that is more worthy of our values and ideals—one that uses a public health lens to help build resiliency. For that is the true underpinning of a safer community.
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Locked Out, Looking In: How Correctional Oversight Agencies are Adapting During the COVID Crisis

Nov. 30, 2020
The creative strategies that oversight bodies have been using to gather information about what is happening behind bars during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Raising Arizona’s Commitment to Health and Safety: The Need for Independent Oversight of Arizona’s Prison System

Jan. 13, 2020
Raising Arizona’s commitment to a safe and healthy prison system fundamentally requires several steps: (1) reducing the size of the incarcerated population; (2) treating all people who live and work in these facilities with dignity and respect; (3) shifting from a punitive culture toward a rehabilitative approach; (4) providing sufficient funding to support safe physical conditions, access to physical and mental health care, rehabilitative programming, and adequate numbers of well-trained staff; and (5) ensuring meaningful and permanent independent oversight of the prison system.
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Designing And Planning A New Women’s Jail Facility For Travis County: A Roadmap For Reform

Dec. 1, 2018
As Chair and member, respectively, on the Travis County Sheriff’s Women’s Jail Advisory Committee in 2018, Michele and Alycia detail a vision for a reimagined, gender-responsive facility for women in custody at the Travis County Correctional Complex.
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The Need for Independent Prison Oversight in a Post-PLRA World

April 1, 2012
As the PLRA hits age fifteen, it is high time for us to recognize that states need to create a more sustainable and effective model of correctional oversight than the courts can provide. This oversight function is critical, and the PLRA should not be allowed to slam the iron gates shut on prisons and render their operations invisible to the public eye.