Equal Opportunity For All
End Mass Incarceration
Policy Library

Improve Public Safety And Reduce Incarceration Rates By Deepening Justice Reinvestment

American incarceration rates remain some of the highest in the world, even as crime rates have continued to decline nationwide. This mass incarceration is costing states billions of dollars and imposes incredible human costs, particularly on communities of color. There is widespread evidence that alternative approaches to criminal justice are not only more humane, but more effective—reducing the human cost that mass incarceration imposes, while providing a public safety dividend that can be used to improve the lives of all state residents. Numerous states have used evidence and data to reduce incarceration rates, and reinvest the money saved into strategies to reduce crime and recidivism and support communities.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia (12), Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri (12), Mississippi (12), Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota (123), Nebraska (12), New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania (12), Rhode Island (123), South Carolina (12), South Dakota (12), Texas (1234), Utah (123), Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia (12)

In The News

“'If we reduce the level of incarceration, we can use the savings for mental health treatment,' said Del. Kathleen Dumais, a Montgomery County Democrat who led the fight for the justice reinvestment legislation in the House. 'That’s conceptually what we’re trying to do: Use the savings to help more people.'”
“More than 60% of people surveyed agreed that building more prisons and jails is not an effective means of improving the quality of life in their community, favoring strategies such as investment in youth programs, job training and community-based services.”

Partners

  • Prison and sentencing reform organizations and foundations
  • Criminal justice advocates

Opposition

None noted
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FAQ

Who does this help?
This proposal serves the interest of all citizens by reducing state expenditures on incarceration , and redirecting the money saved to proven programs that advance public safety and support communities. As a result, it benefits everyone with an outsized benefit on communities of color and poor communities, which typically suffer the greatest human cost as a result of overly punitive sentencing laws and excessive incarceration rates.
Is this high-cost to the state?
No. By redirecting state funds from ineffective to effective criminal justice programs, it actually saves the state money.
Will this lead to an increase in crime?
No. Justice Reinvestment reforms are focused on improving public safety by targeting outdated policies that do do not reduce crime and instead redirecting funds to policies that have been shown through careful analysis to improve public safety outcomes.
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Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the Justice Reinvestment Renewal Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
This act shall establish a task force to to study the criminal justice system in STATE for evidence-based ways to generate savings, increase public safety and reduce recidivism and report annually with proposed actions for the Executive and Legislative branches.

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) With passage of this legislation and its enactment, the Governor and Legislature in STATE have hereby agreed to a justice reinvestment and renewal process in STATE.

(b) A Justice Reinvestment and Renewal Task Force is hereby established to undertake a comprehensive review of STATE’s criminal justice system and, using a data-driven approach, develop policy recommendations for legislative and executive consideration to reduce incarceration rates and reinvest the money saved into strategies to reduce crime and support communities.

(c) The Justice Reinvestment and Renewal Task Force shall consist of:
  • (i) The Governor, who shall act as the non-voting Chair;
  • (ii) Two members of the Senate, one appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and one appointed by the Minority Leader;
  • (iii) Two members of the House of Representatives, one appointed by the Speaker of the House and one appointed by the Minority Leader;
  • (iv) The Attorney General; and
  • (v) The Public Defender [or if no state public defender the head of the STATE public defender association].

(d) The following shall serve as non-voting members of the Task Force:
  • (i) The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of STATE;
  • (ii) the Commissioners of the Departments of Public Safety, Corrections, Juvenile Justice, Mental Health, Parole and Probation, and Victim Compensation;
  • (iii) The head of the STATE Police;
  • (ix) Two representatives of county or municipal law enforcement, as designated by the Attorney General; and
  • (x) Two representatives of organizations that work with formerly incarcerated people, to be selected by the Governor from a list provided by the legislative representatives.

(e) A majority of the membership of the Task Force shall constitute a quorum and shall meet at the call of the chairperson, or upon an affirmative vote of a majority of the task force. All members must be notified in writing of all meetings at least five days before the date on which a meeting of the Task Force is scheduled. Meetings shall be held at least quarterly. The Task Force may appoint a Work Group to provide additional information and advice to the Task Force.

(f) Each voting member shall be entitled to appoint a single individual to serve as proxy for the duration of his or her term. The proxy may attend meetings if the member is unable to attend a meeting of the Task Force. The designation of a proxy by a member shall be in writing transmitted to the Chairperson of the Task Force.

(g) Members of the Task Force shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties by the agency or department in which they serve as an official or employee.

(h) The Task Force shall request technical assistance from the national justice reinvestment initiative, which has included the the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Crime and Justice Institute, and other organizations.

(i) All executive branch departments and agencies shall, upon request of the Task Force, provide requested services, information, and technical assistance to support the goals of the Task Force.

(j) The Task Force shall:
  • (i) Undertake a comprehensive review of the state’s criminal justice system and the factors driving jail and prison population growth;
  • (ii) Develop and make recommendations regarding policy options to generate savings, increase public safety, and reinvest in communities through evidence-based practices and report those recommendations to the Governor and Legislature as described below;
  • (iii) Engage in strategic planning for implementation of policy recommendations; and
  • (iv) Develop a plan for measuring the impact of policy changes and reallocation of resources to enhance the accountability of criminal justice system policies.

(k) The Task Force shall make recommendations on an affirmative vote of a majority of its members.

(l) The Task Force shall annually report its findings and recommendations for legislative and executive action to the Governor, Legislature, and Chief Justice of the STATE Supreme Court, with the first report being due no later than six months from the date this legislation is enacted. The report shall be also made available to the public online.

(m) The Task Force shall be terminated upon submission of its sixth annual report, if not reconstituted by further legislative action or executive order.