Justice Reinvestment

Source: Alison Lawrence, National Conference of State Legislatures, LegisBrief, Vol. 21 no. 34, September 2013

A decade ago, rising prison populations and costs seemed to be an uninterruptable trend. Today, however, many states are experiencing declines in corrections populations. The U.S. Department of Justice recently reported that state prison populations decreased in 2012 for the third consecutive year, and probation and parole populations are on the same downward trajectory. At the same time, property and violent crime rates also are down.

A growing number of states are engaging in a “justice reinvestment” process—reallocating criminal justice resources into programs proven to curb corrections costs, reduce recidivism and maintain public safety. The data-driven reforms have been bipartisan, cross-governmental and effective.

Justice reinvestment involves:
• Analyzing data and criminal justice trends that drive prison populations and costs.
• Developing and adopting policies that manage corrections resources, spending and investments in order to increase public safety and improve offender accountability.
• Measuring the fiscal and criminal justice effects of these reforms to ensure that projected results and benefits are achieved.