The American travelers—corrections officials, district attorneys, academics, and activists—represent the variety of perspectives that fall under what journalists have taken to calling the “emerging consensus” on criminal justice reform. There are the guys who run prisons and worry about recidivism numbers. There are elected district attorneys wondering how the public responds to such short sentences. And then there are reform activists determined to see prisoners treated humanely.
Their responses to German prisons offer a rich window into what these groups value and exactly what it might take to reduce incarceration and improve the American criminal justice system. On Sunday, Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which helped organize the trip, said he hoped the experience would offer a “stress test” to help us all understand “what this moment of opportunity really looks like.” He expressed hope that the travelers will “take back ideas to fuel the…”