The Council of State Governments Justice Center got some key congressional support today for a new report documenting strategies to reduce repeat criminality and cut the $50 billion being spent by states each year on corrections in a time of government budget crunches. The report on a “summit” last year offers ways to avoid “haphazard policy decisions that negatively affect public safety.” The study includes ways to focus resources on those most likely to offend, base programs on research, use effective community supervision policies, and use “place-based strategies.” The effort includes the “justice reinvestment” concept of cutting prison spending and reinvesting savings in other crime-fighting programs.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the Justice Department budget, said that “quick fixes can have dangerous consequences. To increase public safety in this austere budget environment, we must support cost-effective efforts by states that are grounded in the 'best practices' and draw on the latest innovations from public corrections and the faith-based community.” Wolf told the Wall Street Journal that “every state ought to want to move in this direction” and said he was sending the report to every governor. He was joined by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX). Others supporting the effort include the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Public Welfare Foundation.