A bipartisan group in Congress has introduced a “justice reinvestment” bill that would encourage “data-driven, consensus based strategies to reduce corrections spending and increase public safety.” The bill was unveiled this week by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), with Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Dan Lungren (R-CA). The proposal builds on work done by the Council of State Governments in 11 states.
The bill would authorize grants to analyze criminal justice trends to understand what is driving growth in jail and prison populations, develop policy options to reduce corrections spending and use the money saved to increase public safety, implement changes, and measure the impact. The U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance already has given grants to advance the idea, as have the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project, the Open Society Institute, the Public Welfare Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation.