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Transforming Correctional Culture and Climate

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Dated: January/February 2024
Nancy La Vigne
Date Published
April 2024

This brief publication of the National Institute of Justice discusses reforms to the corrections system inspired by models from abroad, particularly Scandinavia.


Borrowing from innovations abroad, U.S. correctional facilities are piloting more humane living environments grounded in principles of restorative justice to support rehabilitation and enhance safety for all who work and reside in them. Examples from other countries demonstrate that correctional facilities can establish safer, more humane, and more restorative environments. Correctional agencies in the United States are beginning to pilot these models, and early indications suggest that these transformative settings offer promising alternatives to traditional prison and jail environments and operations. This brief publication discusses programs based on Scandinavian and other models. One, Little Scandinavia, aims to impact staff safety and wellness and is currently used at a state correctional institution. Another, Amend, focuses on training and assistance for U.S. corrections officials. Perhaps the most well-established institutional reform effort is the Restoring Promise initiative, a project led by the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) and the MILPA Collective (MILPA), is a national initiative that works to transform the living and working conditions for people in jails and prisons, especially young adults. Beyond the programs described in this publication, other initiatives exist to help identify and share evidence-based practices and experiences in an effort to meet that goal.