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For a new vision of prison, leaders are looking outside the United States.

In October, a delegation of American government officials, advocates, corrections professionals, and philanthropists toured seven prisons in Germany and Norway, gathering ideas for how U.S. prisons might be transformed from the ground up.Vera Institute of Justice, “Reimagining Prison in Germany and Norway,” The trip was part of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Reimagining Prison project, a fundamental rethinking of incarceration in America.Delaney, Subramanian, Shames, and Turner, Reimagining Prison, 2018.

The report of the same name confronts how the U.S. prison system was built on racist policies and practices that have disproportionately impacted people of color and envisions in its place a correctional system grounded in human dignity.Delaney, Subramanian, Shames, and Turner, Reimagining Prison, 2018. The model is founded on three “practice principles”: respect the intrinsic worth of each human being, elevate and support personal relationships, and respect a person’s capacity to grow and change.Delaney, Subramanian, Shames, and Turner, Reimagining Prison, 2018., 52 Such a human dignity-based system would not only ensure adequate access to education, health care, meaningful employment opportunities, and an adequate supply of healthy food, it would also respect individual autonomy by allowing incarcerated people to choose their own clothing, enjoy increased privacy, and participate in their own governance.See generally Delaney, Subramanian, Shames, and Turner, Reimagining Prison, 2018.