Decades of runaway prison costs and an entrenched cycle of recidivism have forced a nationwide shift—particularly in states like Texas and Alabama—from a “tough-on-crime” era to data-driven “smart-on-crime” approaches.
Justice reinvestment is a data-driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism.
Rhode Island has the nation’s third-highest probation rate. And in Providence, 1 out of every 11 men is on probation. Meanwhile, two-thirds of prison sentences are for “low-severity crimes” (drug or property crimes, as opposed to violent or sex crimes). And unless something is done, the state prison population is expected to grow by 12 percent over the next decade.
“Alabama has made significant progress over the last year to improve our criminal justice system, ease some of the challenges in our prison system and maximize the amount of state dollars we spend for the Alabama Department of Corrections. I believe that our prison reform efforts have created a healthy foundation that can, over time, transform the landscape of the entire criminal justice system for the better,” said Governor Bentley.
Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to highlight Alabama’s prison reform efforts.
Rhode Island’s criminal justice system could use a tune-up. Although the prison population has diminished in the past decade, thousands of people are on poorly supervised probation. This problem, and others, could be corrected if the work of a new study group bears fruit. For Gov. Gina Raimondo, the main goal — a worthy one — is to cut costs while improving public safety.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order on Tuesday, July 7, to launch a comprehensive study of the state’s criminal justice system using a “justice reinvestment” approach, which will identify new ways to relieve pressures on the correctional system and increase public safety.
After years of pursuing separate approaches to providing supervision and treatment, Kansas has become a national leader in providing integrated services to people on probation and parole who need mental health or substance use treatment.
Programs that are effective at reducing recidivism have three core elements in common: they target people who are most likely to reoffend (who); they use practices rooted in the latest research on what works to reduce recidivism (what); and they regularly review program quality and evaluate how closely the program adheres to its established model (how well).
The Justice Reinvestment in Rhode Island Overview highlights recent criminal justice trends in Rhode Island that the working group will be exploring in coming months as part of the state’s justice reinvestment effort.
Faced with the most crowded prison system in the nation and overwhelmed probation and parole systems, state leaders in Alabama pursued justice reinvestment. After extensive analyses identified key challenges in the state’s criminal justice system, policymakers developed a policy framework designed to reduce prison overcrowding and strengthen community-based supervision.
A review of the composition of prison populations in three states found that drops in prison admissions, prison populations, or both, have been especially pronounced in recent years among blacks and Hispanics.