Noting that the 1994 federal crime law gave money to states for prison building, the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law is urging Congress to pass legislation that would do the opposite, using federal dollars to reward states that successfully reduce both crime and incarceration. The center contends that its “Reverse Mass Incarceration Act” could produce a 20 percent reduction in state prisoners over the next decade.
The proposal includes a grant program of $20 billion over 10 years to states, a requirement that only states that reduce their prison population by 7 percent over three years without a crime increase would get money, and a requirement that states invest federal grants funds in evidence-based programs proved to reduce crime and incarceration. “Presidential candidates have spoken out about the need to reduce imprisonment. Some have outlined modest proposals,” said the center’s Inimai Chettiar. “Our next president, no matter what party he or she belongs to, must make reducing incarceration a top priority.” Marc Levin of Right on Crime said that states including California, Texas, and Illinois “have achieved great successes at implementing this type of funding incentive model to reduce their prison populations.””