States can use innovative and evidence-based strategies to trim prison populations, reduce the likelihood that a released person will return to prison, and imprison fewer people in the first place, contends the Washington, D.C.-based Justice Policy Institute. The institute says that increasing opportunities for parole and improving parole release decisions, improving parole supervision and ensuring access to support and treatment services are cost-effective means of cutting extraneous spending while maintaining public safety. In FY2008, states spent $52 billion on corrections, money that could be spent on infrastructure, education, housing and job creation, the group says.
The institute issued a report this week on safetly reducing prison populations and supporting inmate re-entry. The group contends that because “spending more time in prison does not equate to more public safety, releasing people early with appropriate supervision can be an effective way of reducing prison populations.”