Lessons from the States

The Urban Institute, July 2014.

prison-reform-US-StatesWithout a doubt, in recent year the states have demonstrated tremendous leadership on correctional reform. As detailed in our recent Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) State Assessment Report,1 which highlights the experiences of 17 states, this leadership is characterized by (1) a bipartisan commitment to reform; (2) the use of data on current sentencing and corrections practices to inform policy; (3) a focus on responsible reform designed to reserve prison for those who pose the greatest risk to public safety; and (4) the expanded use of evidence-based practices (EBPs). Among these comprehensive reform efforts, many JRI states have slowed prison growth, reduced overcrowding, and saved taxpayers money without sacrificing public safety and other states are projected to do so. The crime rate in almost all of states that have reduced their prison populations has continued to decline.

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