Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,500,000)
Corrections agencies are grappling with how to create safe and humane environments for people who work, visit, and are incarcerated in prison; to recruit and retain staff; and to sustain efforts that promote incarcerated people’s successful reentry to the community. Transforming the cultures, climates, and spaces in prisons is essential to enhance safety, improve the dynamics between staff and incarcerated people, create community and a sense of purpose beyond custody and control, and shape a culture that centers the dignity of both staff and incarcerated people. To address the critical problem of transforming prison cultures, climates, and spaces, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is expanding its groundbreaking work of Restoring Promise through a new project, Designed for Dignity.
Vera will inspire and broadly support the corrections field to transform its cultures, climates, and spaces by selecting eight diverse agencies to use the Designed for Dignity framework—to assess and transform their policies, training, and resource allocations so they are better aligned with dignity and to achieve their mission-critical goals.
The transformation process will be successful by leveraging the leadership of trained corrections professionals and incarcerated people and proceeding in three stages: learning and strategy design, change management, and sustainability. Beyond the eight agencies selected to get support with the Designed for Dignity framework, Vera will provide support to the field by developing and disseminating resources and responding to ad hoc requests. Vera will proactively build field knowledge and capacity throughout the course of the project—maintaining an up-to-date review of the literature, best practices in corrections, and innovations in corrections cultures, climates, and spaces.
By combining the expertise of corrections professionals and incarcerated people with Vera's experience in on the ground, evidence-based prison transformation work, Designed for Dignity will bring about meaningful and sustainable changes in the participating correctional agencies and build field knowledge and capacity for transforming prison cultures, climates, and spaces. Designed for Dignity will result in greater safety for all, successful re-entry for incarcerated people, and staff who are well and have purpose.