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.
Some of the most embattled elements of the U.S. justice system, ranging from prisons to prosecutors, are emerging as targets of a rejuvenated bipartisan reform movement in the Trump-era. The broad outlines of that movement emerged this week during a conference at John Jay College in New York.
A new quantitative study of felony populations between 1948 and 2010, issued by the Population Association of America, represents the first attempt to offer a comprehensive view of states-level criminal punishment in the United States, across both demographic and geographic lines.
Criminologist Todd Clear of Rutgers University credits an “innovative strategy” that sent many parole violators to rehabilitation programs rather than returning them to prison. Drug courts and a falling crime rate also have contributed.
Over 4.7 million Americans are under “community corrections” supervision today—more than twice the number of individuals behind bars. Rethinking that 19th-century approach is crucial if we want to end mass incarceration, say the authors of a Harvard Kennedy School paper released today.
Two briefing papers by the Vera Institute of Justice contend that criminal justice policy “is too often swayed by political rhetoric and unfounded assumptions.” According to Vera, assertions that “violent crime increases in a few cities equal a sweeping national problem” are not based on facts.
In a farewell interview before stepping down after 13 years as president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Jeremy Travis predicts the fear-mongering rhetoric about crime from the current administration won’t slow down reforms at the state and local levels. “The American people are smarter than that,” he says.
A study released June 22 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) revealed that 14 percent of state and federal prisoners and 26 percent of jail inmates reported experiences that met the threshold for serious psychological distress (SPD).