With Success in States, Justice Reform “Long Overdue” in D.C., Vera Says


There is real and growing bipartisan suipport for criminal justice reform at both the state and federal levels, even though the federal shutdown might seem the antithesis to bipartisanship, writes the Vera Institute’s Christine Leonard. She notes U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s support of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in 17 states, a project involving the U.S. Justice Department, as well as Vera, the Pew Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Council of State Governments, the Urban Institute, and other partners working at the state and local level.

Leonard says the initiative has shown “real success advancing data-driven approaches to improve public safety, reduce correctional spending, and reinvest savings to decrease crime and strengthen communities.” She says that, “It is time to take this successful approach to the federal level—all three branches of the federal government need to come together to implement substantial reforms in a number of areas across the justice system.” She adds that, “the federal government is long overdue in engaging in comprehensive criminal justice reform that addresses the front-end and back-end drivers of the increasing societal and budget toll of the growing federal prison population,” which has jumped from 25,000 in 1980 to nearly 219,000. “During the shutdown, federal correctional officers must carry out their intense duties even while their paychecks are in limbo,” Leonard says.

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