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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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The Interstate Hurdle to Restoring Ex-Offenders’ Legal Rights

As states begin expanding opportunities for ex-offenders to fully reintegrate into society—including restoring their ability to vote and serve on a jury—they will need to mitigate the legal conflicts that arise when formerly incarcerated individuals move from the state where they were convicted, according to a study published in the UC (University of California) Davis Law Review. “Restoration recognition has major practical importance for convicted individuals seeking to reintegrate into society and for a nation grappling with the staggering human […]


Criminal Justice Reform Without Borders

Some 500 people gathered in New Orleans today for a meeting aimed at exploring what one of its organizers called a “transideological” approach to criminal justice reform. The meeting, called “Advancing Justice: An Agenda for Human Dignity and Public Safety,” was sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute, an educational group created by the billionaire who has been one of the country's prominent supporters of ultra-conservative causes. Will Ruger, the Institute's vice president for research, said the gathering hoped to go […]


Has Jerry Brown Changed His Views On Crime?

California's governor traditionally declares his intention to sign or veto dozens of bills that have been approved by the legislature during the month of October. Jerry Brown's vetoes this year have got a lot of Californians wondering about whether their governor has changed some of his long-held views on criminal justice. Last month, for example, Gov. Brown rejected State Bill (SB) 347, which would have created a 10-year ban on weapon ownership for certain people convicted of gun-related crimes. Existing […]


A Pivotal Season For Justice, Or Just More Talk?

Will this Fall prove to be a pivotal one for criminal justice in the United States, or just another flurry of talk with little decisive action? Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced its most significant bill in years on federal crime, one that could roll back many categories of mandatory sentences that have helped pack prisons and strain the Justice Department’s budget. A few hours later, President Barack Obama welcomed to the White House a new group of police chiefs […]


The “Eternal Criminal Record”

Does intensive criminal record-keeping help public safety–or hinder it? In a forthcoming article in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Kevin Lapp summarizes and critiques The Eternal Criminal Record, a recent book which argues that detailed criminal justice record-keeping undermines the chances that ex-offenders will successfully reintegrate into society. The book, by James B. Jacobs, shows how the current record-keeping system in the U.S. “presents a public-policy conundrum for American criminal justice: The more information we collect and share […]


Who Built Prison America? Not Ted Kennedy

Happily, “mass incarceration” has fallen out of favor, both among policymakers and academics. As Congress considers bipartisan proposals to roll back harsh federal sentencing laws, scholars are examining the roots of these discredited policies. In her book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America, Princeton University Professor Naomi Murakawa blames, among others, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. Before explaining why I disagree with Professor Murakawa's conclusions, I must disclose that I am not a neutral […]