The key to dealing with the high incarceration rate in the U.S. is reforming community corrections, mainly its probation and parole components, says Michael Jacobson, president of the Vera Institute of Justice. Speaking yesterday to a “National Summit on Justice Reinvestment and Public Safety” in Washington, D.C., Jacobson said that probation and parole is “the most under-resourced part of the criminal justice system.” Under “justice reinvestment,” instead of spending money on building prisons, government devotes it to programs that reduce offender recidivism.
Agreeing that “probation is the linchpin” of the justice reinvestment concept, Tony Fabelo of the Council of State Governments Justice Center told the session that government could do much better at rehabilitating offenders rather than reflexively sending violators of probation and parole conditions to prisons and jails. Members of Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder, and other officials and experts addressed the summit. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a keynote speaker, lamented that corrections reform has “never achieved the attention that it deserves.”