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A Call For A New ‘Public Agenda’ on Criminal Justice

Marking the 50th anniversary of a wide-ranging report of a commission named by President Lyndon B. Johnson, some experts call for a 21st-century repeat, focusing on police, prosecutors, and mass incarceration. But some speakers at a Washington symposium worried the new administration’s “tough on crime” approach could limit its impact.

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Growing Prison Population Could Cost Alaska $169 Million in Next Decade

Pretrial supervision, revised drug penalties and alternatives to prison for low-level offenders are among the reforms needed to reduce Alaska’s growing prison population and high recidivism rate, according to the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission. The state's prison population has grown by 27 percent in the last decade and its corrections system cost $327 million in fiscal year 2014, said the report, released last month. According to projections, Alaska will need to house an additional 1,416 inmates by 2024, which is […]

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How Information Sharing Can Improve Justice Reform

In order for justice reinvestment to be successful, criminal justice agencies accustomed to keeping disparate data have to streamline information sharing, according to a new paper by the government-funded nonprofit SEARCH. The purpose of justice reinvestment is to a portion of the savings from criminal justice reform to treatment alternatives, training, and other community programs. “Fulfilling this promise, though, requires that those who make policy for, and allocate funding to, justice reform initiatives recognize the importance of making timely, accurate […]

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How ‘Reinvestment’ Can Save Nebraska’s Prison System

Nebraska's prisons are stuffed with low-level offenders, and the state's parole system provides too little supervision for those released from incarceration, according to a new report by the non-profit Council of State Governments. The report was presented to the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature as part of the state's Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which is seeking to decrease the size and cost of the state's prison system. “Even though reported crime and arrests declined between 2004 and 2013, prison admissions increased and […]

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Crime and Prison Population Fall in N.C.

In the three years since North Carolina adopted a series of reforms to its criminal justice system, the state's prison population has dropped by 8 percent and its crime rate has fallen 11 percent, according to a recent report by the non-profit Council of State Governments. Since launching “justice reinvestment” reforms in 2011, the state has closed 10 correctional facilities. Those closures are expected to save the state $560 million by 2017, according to the report. The state has reinvested […]

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Can Justice Reinvestment Work Around The Nation?

A budding criminal justice system reform campaign called justice reinvestment is marking a watershed moment with a “national summit” this week in San Diego. Government officials and activists from 35 states gathered under the auspices of Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Justice Department for the first time to assess where the movement is headed. “You work on the cutting edge of criminal justice,” Adam Gelb of Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project told summit participants yesterday. “This is a new […]

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Treating Probation Like Social Work

Should the criminal justice system take cues from the social work sector? A new policy brief by the Criminal Justice Alliance — a British coalition of 70 organizations involved in policy and practice across the criminal justice system — calls for the probation system to adopt the social care model of “personalization,” which utilizes individualized plans to reduce recidivism. The personalization model relies heavily on probation supervisors, who consider an offender's strengths and skills, as well as needs and vulnerabilities, […]

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“Massive Return” Seen For Justice Reinvestment

“Justice reinvestment” initiatives under way in 17 states with federal and Pew Charitable Trusts funding have the potential to achieve a “massive return” on the investment of $17 million so far, said a federally-sponsored assessment issued today by the Urban Institute. More efficient handling of offenders in the justice system could save $4.6 billion in the states as prison populations are reduced over many years, the institute estimated. Participating states “have enjoyed both measurable successes and positive cultural and organizational […]