In recent years, the bank has dramatically ramped up its grantmaking to help revitalize cities and bolster urban workforces. Now it’s getting more intellectual firepower on its side by hooking up with a top think tank.
From the Whitehouse Press Office:
Sens. Whitehouse, Cornyn Introduce Prison Reform Legislation
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today announced their plans to introduce the Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers in Our National System (CORRECTIONS) Act.
The bill, which would improve public safety and save taxpayer money by requiring lower-risk prisoners to participate in recidivism reduction programs to earn up to 25 percent of their sentence in prerelease custody, is based off reform efforts in both Texas and Rhode Island. A similar version of the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 15-2 vote last Congress.
“Texas has been a national leader for prison reform, finding ways to partner with faith-based and community organizations to ensure prisoners can change their lives instead of becoming career criminals,” Sen. Cornyn said. “We can improve our criminal justice system, save money, and make our communities safer all at the same time. I am hopeful Congress will follow our state’s lead in this important area.”
“As a former state and federal prosecutor, I recognize that there are no easy solutions to overflowing prison populations and skyrocketing corrections spending,” said Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for Rhode Island. “But states like Rhode Island have shown that it is possible to cut prison costs while making the public safer. Our bill is built on the simple premise that when inmates are better prepared to re-enter communities, they are less likely to commit crimes after they are released – and that is in all of our interests.”
The federal prison population has expanded rapidly in recent decades, growing from around 24,000 inmates in 1980 to over 210,000 today. Spending on the federal Bureau of Prisons has risen dramatically, rising from $3.1 billion in 1998 to a requested $6.9 billion in fiscal year 2013.
Recidivism has also been proven to be a significant problem, with one study estimating that 68 percent of prisoners from 30 states surveyed were arrested once again within three years of being released.
Background on the Whitehouse-Cornyn Legislation:
– Requires all eligible offenders to undergo regular risk assessments to determine whether an offender has a low, medium, or high-risk of re-offending.
– Excludes all sex offenders, terrorism offenders, violent offenders, repeat offenders, major organized crime offenders, and major fraud offenders from earning credits under the program.
– Encourages participation in recidivism reduction programs and productive activities, like prison jobs.
– Contains no new authorized spending, and requires the Bureau of Prisons to partner with faith-based groups and non-profits.
– Allows earned time credits for low-risk prisoners of up to 10 days for every 30 days that the prisoner is successfully completing a reoffender reduction program or productive activity.
– Allows medium risk prisoners to earn a 5 day for 30 day time credit while successfully completing recidivism reduction programs and productive activities. These offenders would only be able to use these credits if they demonstrate a substantial reduction in their probability of reoffending as a result of participation in programs.
– Does not allow high risk offenders to use any time credits unless they reduce their risk levels to a lower tier.
– Would allow certain low risk offenders who demonstrate exemplary behavior to spend the final portion of their earned credit time on community supervision.
We unravel the opaque money trail behind the unending attack on the Affordable Care Act, including the latest legal challenge now before the Supreme Court. At its center is a who’s who of conservative funders.
From the Whitehouse Press Office:
Washington, DC – Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will hold a press conference to announce their plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to reform our nation’s prison system. The legislation would build on reforms that have proven successful at the state level to reduce prison spending and overcrowding, and to help inmates become productive members of society upon re-entry.
Prison reform has been reported to be among the top areas for bipartisan legislative action in this Congress, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently listing it as one of his top three priorities. Both Cornyn and Whitehouse serve on the committee.
EVENT: Sens. Cornyn and Whitehouse Announce Bipartisan Prison Legislation
WHEN: Tuesday, February 10, 2014
WHERE: Senate Radio-TV Gallery
The nation’s top think tanks are reeling in more billionaire backers than ever before, and this trend underscores how the wealthy see these institutions as key players in shaping public policy.
Nowadays, if you really want to buy influence, you make political donations for sure, but you may give even more money to think tanks, which excel at framing the terms of public debates and putting specific ideas on the national agenda (or knocking other ideas off).
Recently, we caught up with Kollin Min, senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the Pacific Northwest region. We wanted to find out how his division, and the Gates Foundation as a whole, is working on housing, and how better linking this issue to education could raise student achievement, both in the Pacific Northwest, and possibly, across the nation.
Where did we get the idea that the Gates Foundation is growing more interested in housing nationally? There have been a several signs, including a grant to the DC Council on Large Public Housing Authorities for $150,000 in 2013 and another $50,000 in 2014 for “a national convening on the topic of how housing authorities and public school districts can more effectively partner to improve the educational outcomes for children residing in public housing or receiving federal housing subsidies.”
The modern foundation was invented by 20th century industrialists who had made their fortunes by commanding large, hierarchical, and often highly centralized institutions. Later business leaders copied the model when they turned to giving, and that trend continued up through the late 1990s as some of today’s biggest foundations were brought to scale, most notably the Hewlett, Packard, Open Society, and Gates foundations.
Lately, though, things have been changing. More large new foundations are lean operations, and over time this will become the norm. In time, too, many legacy foundations are likely to change how they do grantmaking—and downsize their organizations as a result.