For four days this month, Right on Crime policy director Marc Levin will have the opportunity to participate in a delegation of American policymakers and justice reform leaders in a tour of German correctional facilities. The objective: identifying positive aspects of correctional and sentencing practices found internationally, with the goal of informing policy decisions and reforms here in the United States.

To realize these goals, the “International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange,” a partnership between the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Vera Institute of Justice, brings together American district attorneys, experienced corrections officials, public policy experts, and academics who not only engage with German and other European justice practitioners to discuss and exchange ideas, but will also culminate in a “media and public education campaign featuring print, broadcast, and social media that aims to elevate the national discussion around sentencing and corrections policy,” according to the Vera website.

In addition, various participants will have the opportunity to brief Congressional members in the fall regarding ways the European model can contribute to policy changes here.

“This trip represents a tremendous opportunity to see firsthand a different model of incarceration that focuses far more on rehabilitation and productive work,” says Levin. “While there are many differences between the U.S. and Western European criminal justice systems, including an exponentially higher incarceration rate in the U.S. that makes it more challenging to provide such individualized programming behind bars, I believe I will be better positioned to advise American policymakers on criminal justice policy after learning about some of the best practices in other advanced nations.”

“After all, just as Ford keeps tabs on what BMW is doing in their effort to build the best cars, it only makes sense as we deal with the stubborn problem of recidivism to not confine our search for answers to the U.S. borders.”