The “justice investment” approach to managing corrections populations is projected to save states $3.3 billion over the next decade, and $374 million will be reinvested in public safety initiatives, the Urban Institute reported today. The conclusion was based on an analysis of data from 15 states that are pursuing justice reinvestment. As an example, the institute said that North Carolina is expected to save $560 million by 2017, including reduced prison operating costs and averted costs of construction. The state reallocated $8 million in justice spending to community-based treatment for offenders. The report was funded by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Justice reinvestment includes such reforms as using better risk and needs assessments for offenders to decide whether they should be incarcerated, and expanding problem-solving courts to provide better supervision of drug offenders. Some states are increasing eligibility for parole and improving community-based rehabilitation programs. The Obama administration is asking Congress to increase funding for justice reinvestment, which also is being supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Vera Institute of Justice, and the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Critics of justice reinvestment issued a report this year contending that too little has been done to cut prison populations and reinvest savings in criminal-justice projects in minority communities.