Justice Center in the News

Pa. Launches Center to Help Counties Reduce Prison Population with Mental Illness

The center is a step toward solving a problem that has long plagued the criminal justice system, said John Wetzel, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections. “The notion that we’re delivering behavioral health services and mental health services in the criminal justice system more than any other system is a national embarrassment,” he said.

Cost of Incarceration Rising in Idaho

Over the last 35 years, Idaho’s imprisonment rate increased five-fold, making it the state with the 13th highest incarceration rate in the nation and outpacing all six neighboring states, according to a new report from the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy.

Legislators Consider Justice Reinvestment Suggestions

SHERIDAN – More than half of prison admissions in 2017 were from probation and parole revocations, resulting in an estimated cost of $30 million per year for people incarcerated from supervision.

Criminal Justice Reform Solutions Await Lawmaker Action

Outside experts from the Council of State Governments presented lawmakers last week with targeted solutions to stem Wyoming’s ever-deepening prison crisis: Invest in substance abuse and mental health treatment for offenders and retool probation and parole programs.

Study Looks at Ways to Cut Corrections Costs

Wyoming’s prisons are full, and inmate populations are on pace to continue to swell by 9 percent, increasing costs for the state by an estimated tens of millions of dollars by 2023.

Watch: Employ Milwaukee Second Chance Highlights

This video from Employ Milwaukee in Wisconsin highlights the partnership between corrections and workforce systems to improve employment outcomes in the Milwaukee County, Wisconsin area and includes interviews with subject matter experts, an employer, and people who secured employment after incarceration with the aid of Employ Milwaukee.

Watch: Palm Beach County Reentry Success Story

This video profiles Talmedge Hayes, a formerly incarcerated man from Palm Beach County, Florida. While incarcerated Hayes earned a high school diploma and worked for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises. After release, Hayes participated in a post-release program which helped him to secure full time employment with the county.

Reforms Seem to Be Helping Justice System

The Bismarck Tribune has supported justice reforms for some time and believes last week’s report showing the penitentiary population declined 6.5 percent is a sign of improvement.

Activists Urge Sentencing Reform

A speaker told listeners Wednesday night at Lincoln University that Missouri is one of eight states whose prison populations have continued to grow in recent years, putting pressure on state revenue and resources.

Police Shooting Raises Questions about Use of Force Training

Police are being taught to use requests and explanations rather than commands to persuade subjects to comply. An officer might explain that he needs a driver to step out of the car so that he can see the driver doesn’t have a weapon, rather than ordering him to do so.

In Rural America, Violent Crime Reaches Highest Level in a Decade

“Rural areas, which traditionally have had lower crime rates, have seen dramatic increases in incarceration rates,” says Jacob Kang-Brown, a senior research associate with the Vera Institute of Justice. “We see them now having the highest incarceration rates in the country.”

Missouri Officials Approve $5 Million Prison Program

Missouri was faced with an alarming report in 2017 that said either spend $189 million over the next five years — primarily by improving treatment options for people with behavioral health problems — or risk paying $485 million to build and run two new prisons.

Pennsylvania’s Bail System Keeps Poor People in Jail

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — John Z. Murphy Jr. spent 42 days in Northampton County Jail on misdemeanor charges because he couldn’t come up with $800 in bail money.

In fact, the 34-year-old Allentown man would still be in prison awaiting his unresolved case, if not for an initiative the county court recently implemented.

Groups at Opposite Ends of Political Spectrum Hosting Panel on Mass Incarceration

Two organizations that are often on opposite sides of political issues have joined forces for a panel discussion Friday evening.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the libertarian group bankrolled by the billionaire Koch network, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which defends the Bill of Rights and has been associated with progressive policies, have teamed up to host a bipartisan panel to discuss ways to end mass incarceration in Missouri.

Opinion: To Reimagine the Criminal Justice System, Start with a Face-to-Face Connection

Recently, the first lady and I convened a group of state officials, judges, prosecutors, victim advocates and other stakeholders to discuss Connecticut’s progress toward improving the state’s criminal justice system. Sounds like a run-of-the-mill convening of policymakers and practitioners until you consider the venue: one of our state’s maximum-security prisons, the Cheshire Correctional Institution.

Editorial: Police Agencies Should Follow Westminster’s Lead, Take One Mind Pledge

Recently, the Westminster Police Department became the first in the state to meet the requirements among the seven agencies that have taken the pledge. Chief of Police Jeff Spaulding told us it was important Westminster be part of the campaign because “of the prevalence of these calls in the city and the need to ensure that officers are handling them in a safe and effective manner which optimizes the potential of a positive outcome for everyone involved.”

Juvenile Justice Reforms Making Impact in Connecticut

Connecticut’s efforts to keep juveniles out of the criminal justice system appear to be having a long-term positive effect, a University of New Haven lecturer said Monday during the Connecticut State Forum on Public Safety.

Criminal Justice Reforms Explored

New Mexico state lawmakers began setting a course this week for criminal justice reform during a daylong forum that explored strategies to reduce crime without putting more people in jail.

Locked up for Three Decades without a Trial

In some states, including New York, authorities can keep attempting to restore a defendant’s mental capacity until the person has served two-thirds of the maximum sentence he or she would receive if eventually found guilty. Mario Ramos’s maximum sentence is life in prison, and so he sits trapped in Rikers, serving out two-thirds of his life, an unofficial sentence with no verdict and no certain end point.

Idaho Lawmakers Search for Ways to Reduce Prison Population

A growing prison population had some Idaho lawmakers taking a second look Monday at recommendations to reclassify some felonies as misdemeanors and increasing efforts to prevent people from going to prison in the first place.

Barron: Don’t Let Judges Get Hungry

One of the factoids to come out of a day-long forum on public safety in Cheyenne last week was that Wyoming is unique in having a low prison recidivism rate and unusually long prison sentences.

Justice Group is Helping the State Find Better Ways to Deal with Offenders

As previously reported the state of Wyoming is trying to figure out what to do about issues related to prison overcrowding and public safety. Marc Pelka is the Deputy Director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center who is helping the state find ways to deal with offenders earlier in life and find ways to keep recently released inmates from violating parole or probation.

Opinion: Juvenile Justice Systems Need to Transform to Have Lasting Impact on Youth Outcomes

The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University partnered last fall to interview nearly 50 researchers, national experts, and system leaders from across the juvenile justice continuum to solicit their ideas about how juvenile justice systems could significantly improve outcomes for youth.

State Prison System Reaches ‘Break It’ Point

Buchanan County could see an influx of prison offenders released into the community as state officials respond to what’s been described as a crisis of rising inmate populations and increased opioid use throughout society.

Boone, Butler and Buchanan counties will test a new effort to release offenders back into the community with specific services designed to meet each offender’s needs.

Wyoming Justice Reform Effort Gets a Re-boot

For the last several years the Wyoming Department of Corrections has urged lawmakers to implement a number of reforms that could reduce a growing prison population. Some of those ideas involved changing sentencing guidelines and getting non-violent offenders back on the street. But a couple of years ago a massive Criminal Justice Reform measure died after the Senate President declined to hear it.

Counties Across the Country Participate in National Stepping Up Day of Action

During this Day of Action, county officials are hosting events or participating in local activities to share with constituents the progress made in addressing the prevalence of people who have mental illnesses in jails; raise public awareness and understanding of this important issue; and emphasize their commitment to creating data-driven, systems-level changes to policy and practice to achieve Stepping Up goals.

State to Conduct Justice Reinvestment Study

During recent meetings about the effectiveness of probation and parole services throughout the state of Wyoming, legislators discussed the ever-present subject of funding and finances. If probation and parole are not effective ways to keep offenders from jail, what are the alternatives?

Colorado Launches Comprehensive Review of Juvenile Justice System

“Kids don’t belong in prison. We know from the data that when children are incarcerated they usually become repeat offenders,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “This data-driven review will help us provide youths the best chance to successfully transition to a crime-free, productive adulthood.”

Judiciary Committee Focuses on Reducing Number of Re-Offenders

The Council of State Governments (CSG) was hired by the legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee to help find a solution to prison overcrowding. They presented their results to the committee Tuesday while discussing justice reinvestment. The organization says in the last year alone, over half the people sent to prison are there due to a probation or parole violation. Mark Pelka, the director of CSG’s justice branch, said they are helping the committee identify factors that cause a criminal to continually re-offend.

Diversion Program Would Help Keep Mentally Ill Out of Jail

Nonviolent offenders with mental illness could be diverted away from New Jersey’s mainstream criminal justice system and into a rehabilitation program designed to provide treatment for their psychiatric disorder, under an initiative envisioned by a longtime Democratic Senator that also reflects the goals of a growing national movement.

Dauphin County, PA, Rolls out Plan to Reform Criminal Justice System for Mentally Ill

Closures of state hospitals and limited funding for treatment services has put stress on jail systems across the country, and Dauphin County is no exception. In 2016, 44 percent of the county’s mentally ill inmates returned to prison within a year of their initial booking.
Officials say now, it’s time to make a change.

Facing Rising Corrections Costs, States Are Course Correcting

To create a better understanding of recent crime and criminal justice population trends both nationally and at the state level, the CSG Justice Center hosted the 50-State Summit on Public Safety in November 2017 in partnership with the Association of State Correctional Administrators, or ASCA. The summit came at a time when public safety officials and crime data are telling a complex story

How Cities Can Reduce Recidivism for Young Adults

Young adults account for a disproportionately high percentage of arrests and are the most likely age group to commit violent crimes and reoffend. Meanwhile, scientific research has demonstrated that young adulthood is a distinct period of development during which significant growth and change occurs.

Mass. Legislature Sends Baker Sweeping Criminal Justice Bill

The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed the most sweeping reforms to the state’s criminal justice system in decades, a package aimed at paring the number of people caught up in the courts, helping those who have served their time stay out of jail, and giving young offenders more leeway to avoid the system altogether.

School Resource Officers Play an Important Role in School Safety

The Cumberland County sheriff’s office was given countywide responsibility 30 years ago, when then-Fayetteville Police Chief Ron Hansen suggested school duty was better suited for the sheriff’s office because schools are governed and operated by county government.

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims April 2018 as Second Chance Month

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, each year, approximately 650,000 individuals complete prison sentences and rejoin society. Unfortunately, two-thirds of these individuals are re-arrested within 3 years of their release. We must do more—and use all the tools at our disposal—to break this vicious cycle of crime and diminish the rate of recidivism.

The Double Jeopardy of Juvenile Detention

In order to provide an equal opportunity for formerly incarcerated youth to succeed, schools and the juvenile justice system should work together to ease a student’s transition back into school; specifically, a student’s home school should not be permitted to deny them the opportunity to reenroll.

Mass. Bishops Reaffirm Support for Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

In a letter sent to the Members of the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Conference Committee, Massachusetts Catholic bishops applauded the committee’s efforts in crafting criminal reform legislation, and reiterated items that they hope will be included in the legislation.

Governor Helps Open Sebastian County Crisis Stabilization Unit

Elected officials from all across the state and other guests convened at the Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center campus in Fort Smith for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the Sebastian County regional crisis stabilization unit.

Ribbon Cutting for State’s First Crisis Stabilization Unit

The opening of Arkansas’s first Crisis Stabilization Unit in Sebastian County opens an entirely new and more humane approach for law-enforcement officers who encounter a person in a mental-health crisis, Governor Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday morning at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Juvenile Injustice: Racial Disparities in Incarceration Start Early

The Prison Policy Initiative released “Youth Confinement: The Whole Pie” and, per the report, although Black kids represent less than 14 precent of all American youth under the age of 18, Black boys make up 43 percent of the male population in juvenile facilities, while Black girls comprise 34 percent of incarcerated girls.

All Means All: Q&A about Using ESSA to Improve Education in Juvenile Justice Facilities

Regardless of the state’s structure, students in juvenile facilities should not be left behind. The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states the flexibility to rethink how juvenile justice schools might be included in a state’s accountability plan in a way that takes into account the unique context of the facilities and student population.

Defining Reform in Corrections

While Nebraska has a low violent crime rate, there has been a lot of opportunity to ensure that our prisons and criminal justice system help bring that rate down. Over the past three years, state officials have been working to invest in our criminal justice system. This will help bring down the rate of reoffending and give our corrections officers a better work environment. This work has been a three-branch, bipartisan effort focused on five major areas: sentencing reform, funding operations, building prison capacity, improving facility staffing and expanding programming.

The Problem With Parole

States that set out a decade ago to trim prison costs have learned that success lies in a few areas — rolling back draconian sentencing that drove up prison populations in the first place, and remaking parole and probation systems, which have, in numerous cases, sent as many or even more people to jail for rule violations as the courts do for new crimes.

Editorial: ND’s Free Through Recovery Is a Bold Experiment

North Dakota is following a trend among states to invest more on the front end—addiction counseling and other behavioral health services—in order to reduce crime and save money on corrections budgets. A Pew Charitable Trusts study has shown that 30 states have experienced reduced incarceration and crime rates, often resulting from the kind of initiatives that North Dakota is starting.

Peer Support Helps Those in Grip of Addiction

There are many different faces of addiction, which is often coupled with a mental illness. To help people struggling with substance use disorders, treatment providers are increasingly looking to peer specialists to share their unique stories of recovery and, in turn, help others dealing with addiction.

Free Through Recovery

A new statewide program is helping to keep people out of the cold and out of jail.

North Dakota to Launch Recovery Services Program

North Dakota will begin a new program that offers care coordination and recovery services to people who are transitioning out of prison, on probation and parole, and at risk of incarceration.

ND Strives to Shut Revolving Door to Prisons and Jails

North Dakota is embarking upon an ambitious social experiment. If successful, the effort will allow the state to stop expanding jails and prisons by providing more community support for those at risk of incarceration.

ND Departments of Human Services and Corrections and Rehabilitation Set to Launch Free Through Recovery

The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division and the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced that training begins this week to launch Free Through Recovery, an innovative community-based program designed to increase access to recovery services for individuals engaged with the criminal justice system who have serious behavioral health concerns.

Governor Offers Vision of Promise

Gov. Doug Burgum laid out his vision for achieving what he called North Dakota’s “unlimited promise” in delivering his State of the State address at Minot State University Tuesday.

Prison’s New Drug Treatment Program to Impact Local Center

The Department of Corrections said recently it opened a chemical dependency treatment program at Montana State Prison, a move that may bring change to a Great Falls facility that helps criminal offenders be returned to society with a new program that helps veterans who have had encounters with the law.

Officers, Court Officials Selected for Program

The Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs Sheriff’s Offices in collaboration with Hopewell Health Centers have been selected to participate in the National Mental Health-Law Enforcement Learning Site Program through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Editorial: A Blueprint for Reforming Missouri’s Broken Corrections System

Missouri’s leaders are doing taxpayers no favors by repeatedly delaying the fixes that the state’s corrections system so badly needs. The system is running at 105 percent of capacity and needs a significant economic investment to relieve the pressure. A comprehensive study says that if Missouri doesn’t invest now, two new prisons will have to be built at even higher cost to taxpayers.

Missouri’s Incarceration Rate Highest for Women

Missouri is confronting a number of troubling trends in its criminal justice system, including an uptick in violent crime and crowded prisons – and research shows women are at the epicenter.

Douglas County, Oregon, Commissioners Sign ‘Stepping Up’ Resolution

In Douglas County, the goals under “Stepping Up” include: tracking how many people with mental illness are passing through the Douglas County jail; implementing mental health screening and assessments; expanding Crisis Intervention Training for law enforcement officers and others; assisting with efforts to open a crisis respite center for those experiencing a mental health crisis; and improving mental health services and communication between the criminal justice system, mental health providers and the community.

Editorial: Stepping Up’s Aim to Cut Inmate Population Has Merit

In a presentation last week to the Marion County Commission, Boone County Commissioner Janet Thompson pointed out that people with mental illness often end up being incarcerated because many states, including Missouri, have closed mental health facilities for budgetary reasons.

Arkansas Judicial Task Force on Track to Reduce Prison Population by Ten Percent in Six Years

Nearly two dozen agencies across Arkansas are working together to reduce the state’s prison population by ten percent in six years. According to The Council of State Governments Justice Center, Act 423 passed during the last legislative session is expected to lower the state’s prison population by nearly 1,700 inmates and save the state about $290 million by FY2023.

Missouri Task Force to Consider Improvements in Behavioral Health Network

The Council of State Governments Justice Center is working with Missouri officials to, among other things, find ways to invest into more behavioral health programs. The organization’s Andrew Barbee says West Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Alabama have had major declines in their prison populations from those types of investments.

New Unit at Billerica Jail Will Focus on Young Offenders

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian will open a new unit specially designed for young adult offenders, ages 18 to 24, at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction in February with an initial focus on those from Merrimack Valley communities. Existing space at the Billerica jail will be repurposed to operate the unit because the Council of State Governments Justice Center found young inmates released from Massachusetts correctional facilities have higher recidivism rates than older offenders. “The approach we’ve taken historically with this population is not working,” said Koutoujian. “New approaches — based on scientific research and proven practices — are required for us to break the cycle of incarceration these young adults find themselves trapped in.”

Sheriff Gains New Insights on Public Safety at Summit

Sheriff Jason Sandholdt explored new ways to keep the public safe at a recent national summit. A key balance involves keeping the right people in prison while giving addicts a chance to recover and avoid crime, he said.

Missouri County Jail Woes

Missouri’s county jail admissions have been relatively flat since 2010 but jail populations have climbed by 50-percent.

Missouri’s County Jail Populations Climb by 50% in Seven Years

Missouri’s county jail admissions have been relatively flat since 2010 but jail populations have climbed by 50% since then, according to the Council of State Government’s Justice Center (CSG). The organization is working with Missouri to find ways to make better use of resources for the state’s criminal justice system.

Mental Health Court Could Lower Recidivism, Cut Costs

If 3rd Judicial District Judge Mary Rosner has her way, a mental health court will be established in Doña Ana County by 2021. With the help of a $2.8 million grant, a pilot project focusing on assisted outpatient treatment is already underway and could transition into a mental health court.

Opinion: Let’s Make 2018 the Year to Step up for Persons with Disabilities

As presiding judge of Broward’s Misdemeanor Mental Health Court, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, I strongly urge all interested local public officials and community behavioral health professionals, mental health consumers, family members and disability rights advocates to coalesce around the goals of the Stepping Up Initiative.

Why Are So Many Ohioans in Prison? The State Is Trying to Find Out

Ohio is planning a deep dive into crime data — arrests, convictions, sentencing, probation, incarceration, behavioral health and more — to help answer some vexing questions, such as why the state has such a high prison population and why so many people here are on probation?

Free Through Recovery Program Aims to Improve Access to Recovery Services

Pamela Sagness is Director of the Behavioral Health Division with the North Dakota Department of Human Services. She says the Free Through Recovery Program is part of the justice reinvestment work underway by the state of North Dakota, aimed at reducing incarcerations and improving access to community based recovery services. The program was funded in the last legislative session. She says the Department of Human Services is now holding informational meetings with vendors across the state.

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Delivers Remarks at the 50 State Summit on Public Safety

Prevention and reentry efforts play an important part in reducing crime. Many programs within the Bureau of Prisons, Community Oriented Policing Services, Office of Justice Programs, and Office of Violence Against Women are dedicated to those goals. By supporting those efforts, the Department seeks to keep people from entering the criminal justice system.

End “Stovepipe Approach” to Public Safety, State Officials Told

Wetzel’s remarks set the tone for the meeting, which was aimed at presenting officials in each state with a detailed analysis of their crime issues, including trends in arrests, recidivism and behavioral health, and help them come up with evidence-based solutions.

Editorial: Re-Entry Efforts Offer Pathway for Former Felons

In Columbus, state leaders and criminal justice experts announced the launching of a new effort to reduce Ohio’s prison population through an examination of crime, courts, probation and incarceration. The Associated Press reported that a yearlong study by the Council of State Governments Justice Center will analyze thousands of records to examine how sentences imposed for serious crimes affect not only prison populations but also life after prison.

Organization Says More Community Treatment, Policing Will Lower Missouri Prison Population

The Council of State Governments says Missouri’s rising prison population could be reduced by investing in things that help to keep people out of prison to begin with. It suggests the creation of more community treatment programs and community policing. The council is working with the state to find ways to improve the use of criminal justice system funding.

Public Safety Requires Special Session

Earlier this year, we worked across the aisle with colleagues in the Legislature and Gov. Steve Bullock to pass a series of bills to reform Montana’s criminal justice system. These reforms included bipartisan, data-driven approaches that save taxpayers money, improve outcomes for offenders, keep Montana communities safe, and provide more treatment options to address underlying mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Missouri Panel Prepares to Make Criminal Justice Recommendations

A task force charged with overhauling Missouri’s criminal justice system is expected to make policy recommendations by November. It was created to find ways to make better use of state funding of the system and is working with the Council of State Governments to develop suggestions.

Before the Massachusetts Legislature Breaks This Fall, What Needs to Get Done?

On Nov. 15, the Massachusetts Legislature will go on break until January. During that time, the only bills likely to be passed are non-controversial items that do not face opposition.

Lawmakers have some major bills still pending as they approach the recess.

Here’s a look at what they are.

Rep. Charles Graham to Participate in Crime Summit

Rep. Charles Graham will take part in the 50-State Summit on Public Safety in Washington, D.C. Leaders from each of the 50 states will meet to gain a better understanding of the crime, arrest, and correctional system trends in their jurisdictions.

Criminal Justice Reform Makes Its Way Through Massachusetts Legislature

Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature commissioned the Council of State Governments to issue a report on the state’s criminal justice system in 2015. In March of this year, it found Massachusetts spends the most on young adults in its jails, and has the highest re-arrest rates.

Should Texas Change Law to Keep 17-Year-Olds out of Adult Jails?

The Texas Juvenile Justice Coalition wants lawmakers to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18 in the 2019 legislative session. The ACLU of Texas, Texans Care for Children, Texas PTA, Texas Appleseed, and Disability Rights Texas joined the coalition during a press conference inside the State Capitol Friday.

Transforming Nebraska’s Criminal Justice System

Prisons play a key role in Nebraska’s criminal justice system by protecting public safety and preparing inmates for return to our society. Under the leadership of Director Scott Frakes over the past two years, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) has been making great strides and working to better achieve their mission. From expanding facility capacity to automating sentence calculation processes and expanding programming, the agency has been adopting data-driven practices to modernize its operations and facilities.

Corrections Secretary John Wetzel: ‘It’s Frustrating, Sitting at the Back of the System’

John Wetzel is in a unique position.

As Pennsylvania’s corrections secretary, he’s developed a long-lens view of state politics. He has no power to enact laws or invest in social services but at any given time his department oversees more than 50,000 incarcerated people whose lives are directly affected by those laws and those investments (or lack thereof).

Criminal Justice System Adjusting To “Sweeping” Changes from Legislative Reform

The suite of bills that HB 133 was passed with were the product of a bipartisan legislative interim committee that spent 13 months studying Montana’s sentencing policies and practices, identifying strategies to reduce recidivism and coming up with legislation to help take the burden off the state’s prisons and jails.

Prisoners Start New Lives Fighting Fires in Arizona

“What’s noticeable about this program is that it takes the work experience that people gained while incarcerated and links that to access to real-world job opportunities in the community,” Stefan LoBuglio of the Council of State Governments Justice Center said.

Criminal Justice Reforms Mark ‘a Turning Point’ for Rhode Island

State lawmakers, public defenders, corrections officials, community activists and police came together with Governor Gina Raimondo on Thursday to hail a series of new laws as the most historic changes to the criminal justice system in Rhode Island to arise in decades.

Mental Health: How Alabama Is Responding

“I’d like to see Alabama as a ‘Stepping Up’ state,” Lynn Beshear, Alabama’s mental health commissioner, said. “I’ve been in touch with Ohio on how they did that.” Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services director Tracy Plouck serves on the board of directors for the Council of State Governments Justice Center, and was an early champion of the nationwide initiative.

Raimondo Signs Series of Bills to Overhaul Criminal-Justice System

State lawmakers, public defenders, corrections officials, community activists and police came together with Governor Gina Raimondo on Thursday to hail a series of new laws as the most historic changes to the criminal justice system in Rhode Island to arise in decades.

New FBI Crime Data Takes Search for Solutions to the State, Local Level

Any indication our neighborhoods may be becoming less safe will always be met with anxiety. The FBI’s annual report on crime, released early last week, will fairly be met with some concern that our collective effort to keep citizens safe is going in the wrong direction.

Opinion: Maine Voices—Blaming Police for Failures of Mental Health System Is Misplaced

Under the leadership of Chief Michael Sauschuck, the Portland Police Department created a Behavioral Health Response Program that, among other innovations employs a full-time clinical social worker as a behavioral health coordinator and retains master’s-level interns from the University of Southern Maine’s clinical counseling program.

New Law Provides Sidetrack to Prison for Probation Violators in Arkansas

A new law on the books, set to go into effect today, aims at sending those low-level probation violators, as well as delinquent parolees, to short-term lockups at county jails or to treatment programs rather than to longer-term, crowded prisons. The state Department of Correction has more than 16,000 inmates in custody but only room for 15,300.

Mass. Senate Panel Gets a Look at Justice Reform Bill

Senate members of the Judiciary Committee on Friday advanced a 114-page criminal justice bill that would phase out the indigent counsel fee, require regular reviews to determine whether a prisoner should stay in solitary confinement, and allow people to effectively wipe old charges from a national database.

Panel: Laws Drive Higher Prison Population at Higher Cost

In Missouri, a person becomes an adult eligible to drink at age 21, vote at 18 and commit a crime at 17.

That law, combined with very low thresholds for felony charges for drug crimes, can mean a lifetime of lower wages, fewer opportunities and a greater chance of re-offending, attorney Jennifer Bukowsky said Tuesday during a forum on prison costs.

Recovery Reinvented Takes First Steps

North Dakota’s rank of No. 1 on lists for binge drinking shouldn’t be a source of pride, according to the state’s first lady on Tuesday.

Opinion: Montgomery’s Mental-Health Courts Are in High Demand

Our nation’s more than 300 mental-health courts advance justice. A 2009 study by the MacArthur Foundation and the Council of State Governments found they cut criminal recidivism of participants by 20 percent to 25 percent and provide better links to mental-health treatment that lead to productive lives.

Crime And The Election In Albuquerque

It’s the No. 1 issue on voters’ minds heading into the municipal election on October 3. Some mayoral and Council candidates in Albuquerque are calling for more police officers on the force and a new police chief. What do you think it will take to decrease the number of violent crimes and property crimes?

My Turn: Jenna Moll: Time to Reform R.I. Justice

Rhode Island’s justice system is leading the way, but not for a reason its taxpayers and communities would prefer. Regrettably, Rhode Island has one of the highest rates of individuals on probation in the country, along with a dismal recidivism rate. Half of those who leave prison are returning within three years, all while taxpayers are spending close to $60,000 per person, per year in state prisons.

We Need a Long-Term Plan for Reducing Reincarcerations

From the 1970s until just a few years ago, “tough on crime” policies such as militarized policing, severe sentencing laws and eliminating services like prison education defined our approach to criminal justice.

Crime Oversight Panel Has First Meeting

A 15-member panel created by 2017 Legislature to ride herd over a slew of new bills targeted at changing Montana’s criminal justice system had its inaugural meeting Wednesday, with members hearing of the hurdles they face.

Ex-Cons: Montana Sentencing Reforms Could Offer Better Path to Freedom

Ex-con Anthony Valderrama has his own business, a home and a family, and has been out of prison for three years – but still faces another 11 years of supervision by the state Department of Corrections, on a drunk-driving conviction.

Under sentencing reforms passed by the 2017 Montana Legislature, that time could be shortened to three or four years, or less.

Connecting to Those Impacted by Criminal Justice Policies

On August 14th, 2017 the Face to Face Initiative was launched across the U.S. Engaging in a wave of public activities that featured both Republican and Democratic governors and other elected officials, meetings were arranged for these policy leaders with people impacted by the criminal justice system in their respective states. These individuals included offenders, returned citizens, victims of crime and law enforcement.

State Prison Reforms Should Get More Time

It has been threatened for years, and it has finally come about. The ACLU filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Nebraska inmates in U.S. District Court, alleging that overcrowding in the state’s prisons has led to unsafe conditions and that many prisoners aren’t having medical conditions treated.

Governors Pay Prisoners Face-To-Face Visits

The participation of both Republican and Democratic governors reflects the fact that criminal justice reform has become a rare bipartisan issue. And when it comes to criminal justice, the power for change lies with states and localities.

DeLeo, key Dems Plan Busy “Very Busy Fall”

Though formal business has paused and lawmakers seldom make the trip into the State House during the August break, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said House members are hard at work preparing for what he anticipates to be a busy fall.

Governors Pay Prisoners Face-to-Face Visits

As part of a new initiative, eight governors agreed to meet with inmates, crime victims and corrections staff to better understand how their criminal justice policies impact people.

Editorial: This Time, Lawmakers Must Offer Real Answers to Crime

After a hiatus, the state Legislature’s Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee is back at work crafting proposed changes in the criminal justice system to address the state’s burgeoning crime problem. The subcommittee of the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee was formed in 2013 and charged with the same task it faces today.

Governors Face Up to Criminal Justice Reform

With the help of a U.S. Justice Department grant, the CSG Justice Center is arranging for governors and other top officials in states, where most criminal justice policy originates, to meet with inmates, correctional staff members and crime victims.

Jail is Largest Psychiatric Facility in Sonoma County

The county recently obtained a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to map the county’s entire criminal justice system, with the goal of identifying gaps in behavioral health as well as all the potential points of diversion.

Arkansas to Open Four Regional Mental Health Crisis Centers

During the first meeting of the Interagency Task Force Thursday, a legislative liaison for Gov. Asa Hutchinson read a letter from him, outlining the state’s intent to establish regional crisis stabilization units in Craighead, Pulaski, Sebastian and Washington counties.

North Dakota Program Aims to Revamp Supports for Former Inmates

Fargo area social services and health care providers were briefed Friday, Aug. 4, on an initiative that aims to transform the state’s behavioral and health services support systems to more effectively help people awaiting trial, or on parole or probation.

Is Missouri Sending the Right People to Prison?

Missouri ranks 8th highest among the 50 states in the rate at which it imprisons its people, including the greatest increase nationwide in its incarceration of women. However, the state continues to have a violent crime problem, especially in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia and Wellston.

Entrepreneurship May Be Key to Cutting Prison Costs

The success of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program suggests the policy question should be: What is the most efficient and effective use of funds to keep ex-offenders in the productive workforce and creating value?

Will Another High-Profile Crime Derail Parole Reform?

In the wake of the July 1 Power Ultra Lounge mass shooting, city and state officials have put parole and probation at the center of law enforcement plans to tackle violent crime in Little Rock and clamp down on what’s been described as gang activity.

D.C. Council Fails to Fund Entrepreneurship Program for Returning Citizens

If funded, the Incarceration to Incorporation Entrepreneurship Program Act of 2016 has the potential to serve a greater number of ex-offenders than any existing program, and is aimed at bypassing employment barriers that typically accompany a criminal record and reducing the chances of someone returning to crime.

Prison, Jail Reforms Need Joint Effort

North Dakota wants to reduce the number of inmates in the state prison and provide treatment for those with drug problems and behavioral issues. It’s the smart thing to do, but it won’t be easy and it will take time.

County to Start Pilot Program for People in Jail with Mental Illness

The initiative uses state money to increase the Sheriff’s Department budget by $1.15 million to pay for nine full-time positions. It’s based on the Stepping Up Initiative, a program developed by the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.

Governor Touts Crime Bill Package

Gov. Steve Bullock held ceremonial signings Wednesday to spotlight legislation to reform Montana’s criminal justice system, calling the 10 bills an “important step.”

New Corrections Laws Promise Montana Money Savings

A study released by the Council of State Governments Justice Center this January found that the number of people imprisoned in Montana was expected to grow by 13 percent over the next six years, which could cost the state at least $50 million to manage.

Gazette Opinion: Growing Pains in Corrections

This year’s changes in state law and the Department of Corrections budget aim at reform, but may do little to lessen the addiction epidemic driving much of the crime in our state and keeping offenders in the system longer than they would be without their chemical dependencies.

Missouri Dept. Of Corrections Director Precythe Visits Randolph County to Hear, Act on Input from Local DOC Employees

“Our prison system wastes your money and it wastes people’s lives. We have to fix it,” the governor said of the Department of Corrections last week. Tuesday morning, Precythe and the governor launched the Missouri State Justice Reinvestment Task Force with a kickoff meeting in Jefferson City, tackling the thorny assignment of reforming Missouri’s corrections organization.

Task Force Delves into Missouri Prison Data

Analyzing data could be the key to effectively reforming Missouri’s criminal justice system, which has the eighth-highest incarceration rate in the nation

Police Practice De-Escalation Tactics

Police across the country are working on ways to de-escalate potential confrontations with the public, focusing their resources on dealing with those with mental illnesses.

Missouri Governor Forms Task Force to Reform Corrections System

On Thursday, June 29, Greitens signed an executive order to form a task force that will “develop policies to improve public safety, reduce corrections spending, and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism.”

Pennsylvania Offers a New ‘Smart on Crime’ Approach. But Does It Actually Work?

That idea of “swift and certain” punishment, in the form of very brief jail stays for minor violators, is baked into a framework unveiled Monday by Pennsylvania officials to reduce the prison population by a thousand inmates by 2020, and reinvest a portion of the $108 million saved to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.

Pennsylvania Could Save Millions by Shaving Prison Sentences, Report Says

Barely ahead of Friday’s looming budget deadline, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican legislative leaders on Monday received a last-minute idea for saving more than $100 million in coming years in part by shaving five months off some non-violent offenders’ sentences.

Fixing an Urban Housing Crisis That Most People Can’t See

The issue of community corrections reform is complicated by the extent of misunderstanding that some have about the DOC’s goals and responsibilities. The majority of individuals housed in either DOC-run or contract community corrections facilities aren’t prisoners. They are, for all intents and purposes, free men and women on parole who simply don’t have an approved environment to go back to.

Arkansas Pilot Program Seeks Care, Not Jail, for Mentally Ill

The Arkansas Legislature and Gov. Asa Hutchinson this year approved a pilot program to create something that county officials have been advocating for since 2015: facilities where some mentally ill people who break the law can be taken instead of jail.

From the Inside Out: Adjusting to Life Without Bars

Two thirds of those sentenced to state and county prison had been incarcerated before, according to a 2016 policy brief on recidivism rates by the public policy research group MassINC. When prisoners are released, they are often still battling addiction, dealing with mental health issues and have a weak support system. At the point of re-entry, the statewide issues of recidivism, drug addiction and homelessness are one. When the former inmate hits the street, data shows they have just under a 50-percent chance of going back within three years.

Advocates Seek Repeal of Mandatory Time for Some Drug Crimes

Criminal justice reform advocates are urging lawmakers to repeal mandatory sentences for minor drug offenses, saying they disproportionately affect minorities and lead to prisons crowded with people in need treatment, not incarceration.

19-Year-Olds Don’t Belong in Adult Prisons

Governor Baker introduced a criminal justice bill in February to great fanfare. Designed to give prisoners incarcerated on mandatory minimum sentences access to good-time credit to hasten their release and to provide reentry programming, it received wide bipartisan support — as it should. The justification was clear. “Reducing recidivism,” Baker said, was the bill’s focus. The people of Massachusetts benefit “when more individuals exit the system as law abiding and productive members of the society.”

Montana Legislature Does Good

Both sides of the aisle came together in the 2017 Montana Legislature to save taxpayer dollars, reduce jail populations, and treat people with chemical dependency issues and mental health issues. Many of these bills came out of the Sentencing Commission, which brought together various groups to perform a comprehensive study of why more money was being spent with worse outcomes. They did an outstanding job. My hat is off to them. Sen. Cynthia Wolken, D-Missoula, chaired the commission, and carried these bills, all of which passed. A too-brief summary of each is as follows:

Michigan Seeing Less Recidivism in Recent Study

Michigan is one of seven states nationwide to deliver significant results in efforts to reduce recidivism and violent crime, according to a new report by the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Stigma of Criminal Record Fades as U.S. Employers Get Desperate

As U.S. unemployment falls to the lowest level in a decade, driving it beneath what Federal Reserve officials consider is the lowest sustainable rate, people with blemishes on their resumes are getting second looks by employers trying to fill vacancies that currently stand at a near-record 5.7 million.

Job Fair Offers a Second Chance

Madeline Neighly, senior policy adviser for The Council of State Governments Justice Center, explained that job fairs such as the one at the coliseum are a “good way to start,” by getting employers and employees in one room, but they typically attract the same employers who are already predisposed to hiring people with prior criminal histories.

Mass. Voters Strongly Back Criminal Justice Reform

Massachusetts residents strongly support reform of the state’s criminal justice system, including elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and education programs than incarceration, according to a new poll.

Reducing Mental Illness in Jails With Evidence

The Stepping Up initiative is a data-based program that encourages counties to track outcomes on the people with mental illnesses coming in and out of their jail system. The idea is that when there is actual data, counties will be able to determine what programs and changes provide real results.

Sebastian County Fights the Jail Overcrowding Issue

In the most recent data available, there are nearly 745,000 people behind bars in the United States. Prison and jail overcrowding is a real problem, and it continues to grow including here in Arkansas. Sebastian County is now looking at all options to bring its detention center back to capacity. And it starts with giving people with mental health problems a different type of attention.

Legislative Session Opens Pathways to Change

Addressing historic protests, putting together a team and learning how to navigate a legislative session: Gov. Doug Burgum, who inherited a budget marked by the largest cuts in modern state history, more than had his plate full when he took office.

Despite Law, Young Students Still Being Suspended

A year after Connecticut passed a law prohibiting out-of-school suspensions of students in grade two or below unless the offense is of a violent or sexual nature, 1,672 young students state-wide still received the sanction, a state report revealed Wednesday.

Supervisors Join in Call for Aid with Prisoners with Mental Illness

Tama County is signing on to the Call of Action to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in the Tama County jail and commit to sharing lessons learned with other counties in Iowa and across the country to support a national initiative and encourage all county officials, employees, and residents to participate in “Stepping Up.”

Legislation a Key Step in Prison Change

The Tribune has advocated for some time for changes to reduce the number of inmates serving time in North Dakota. The Legislature has passed legislation this session that should help reach that goal.

North Dakota Hails Laws Aimed at Slowing Prison Growth

Gov. Doug Burgum, lawmakers, corrections officials and others on Friday hailed new legislation aimed at slowing prison growth by helping nonviolent offenders through treatment and sentencing alternatives, instead of warehousing them behind bars.

Criminal Justice Reinvestment Bill Is Signed into Law

House Bill 1041, signed by Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday, reduces the drug possession charge level from a Class C felony to a Class A misdemeanor for first-time offenders and establishes probation as the presumptive sentence for low-level, nonviolent felonies. It also authorizes a pretrial services pilot project to free up limited and costly jail space and authorizes the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) to award good time on credit for jail time which was previously prohibited.

Missoula Legislator Secures Sweeping Criminal Justice Reforms

Dudik, a third-term legislator, was one of three women Democrats from Missoula who led bipartisan groups in the legislative off-season to craft massive reforms on criminal justice issues: updating criminal sentencing to reflect scientific research on recidivism, modernizing sexual assault definitions, restructuring the embattled public defender’s office and fixing a flaw in an anti-bullying law, among others.

Task Force to Review Juvenile Justice System in New Mexico

The nonprofit Council of State Governments Justice Center will work with the task force to analyze New Mexico’s system. Resulting recommendations could be introduced as legislation as early as 2018, advocates said.

How the 2017 Arkansas Legislature Made Life Worse for You

Arkansas’s legislators were locked and loaded when they arrived for the 91st General Assembly this year, determined to get more guns into public places and take away voting and abortion rights, their evergreen attacks.

On ‘Radio Times': Mentally Ill Inmates Overwhelm Pa. Jails

This morning on Radio Times, Marty Moss-Coane talked with Dr. Fred Osher, director of health systems and services policy at the Council of State Governments Justice Center; Bruce Herdman, chief medical director the Philadelphia Department of Prisons; and John Wetzel, Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections.

Podcast: Alternatives to Prison for People with Mental Illness

Smart Talk will discuss the Stepping Up initiative with Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel, Richard Cho, Director of Behavioral Health at the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Brinda Carroll Penyak, Deputy Director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Justice Reinvestment Bill Moves Forward

A centerpiece of state criminal justice reform efforts this session inched one step further in its legislative journey after unanimously clearing the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday morning.

New Law Helps Offenders Who Help Themselves

A new Illinois law gives a break to ex-offenders who finish high school and other courses while incarcerated by allowing them to apply to have their criminal records sealed without waiting years to begin the process.

Ricketts Remains Confident in Frakes and Nebraska’s Prison Reform Plan

In his first in-depth interview since a deadly prison uprising 18 days ago, the governor told The World-Herald that he’s focused on changing prisons from human warehouses to places where offenders obtain the education, job training and behavioral treatment they need to live productively upon their release. Slash re-offense rates, he said, and taxpayers will save money, prisons will be safer and the public will be better protected.

Andrew Speno: State Has Two Choices on Crime — Change or Bankruptcy

Oklahoma stands on the brink of a monumental success with the potential to define our state for decades to come. A task force of lawmakers and stakeholders put out recommendations to decrease our bloated prison population, save billions in taxes, and increase public safety. But one step in the wrong direction will crush that success into a dismal failure that will leave our children holding the bag.

Lawmakers Get Prison Overcrowding Update

Still no arrests have been made and there’s no word on what caused the incident that left fires burning and two inmates dead at the Tecumseh State prison.

Supervisors Seek to Reduce Ontario County Jail Population

The final measure was the county joining the “Stepping Up” Initiative. The national initiative is designed to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails across the country, which is estimated at more than 2 million.

Arkansas Capitol Briefs

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday signed into law Senate Bill 136 by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, a bill to establish three regional Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Centers in the state.

Ricketts: Corrections Problems Won’t Be Solved Overnight

A deadly incident at the state’s maximum-security prison in Tecumseh last week has once again put a public focus on the important work of reforming the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS). In my first two years as governor, corrections reform has been a top priority to ensure we are protecting public safety. Working with the Legislature and courts, we have begun to address challenges with our prison population, successfully lobbied for additional investments, improved staffing and recruitment, expanded programming opportunities and assessed security needs.

Probation Database Tracks Recidivism

Medina is the first county in Ohio to set up a local version of a new state probation database that will show how legislation that prioritized rehabilitation over prison for some felons has impacted recidivism rates.

Probation Isn’t a Walk

Any given Thursday, there is a good-size crowd in Alamance County Superior Court for probation-violation hearings.

Criminal Justice Bill Supported by Gov. Hutchinson Passes House

A bill that would move some parole and probation violators into lower-level facilities rather than prison and create mental health crisis stabilization units passed the House of Representatives Tuesday (Mar. 7) and headed back to the Senate, where it has already passed.

Opinion: Mental Illness, Untreated Behind Bars

Mr. Trump acknowledged that “prison should not be a substitute for treatment” and said his administration would try to address this challenge. A good start would be to extend the public health system into jails and prisons, which take in the poorest and most illness-prone people in society.

BPAC Promotes Progressive Causes at Grassroots Level

At BPAC’s first meeting on Feb. 8, the board encouraged attendees to urge Speaker of the Rhode Island House Nick Mattiello to bring the Justice Reinvestment Bills — six bills that aim to reform Rhode Island’s criminal justice system — to a vote once they clear committee. BPAC provided attendees with an email template they could use to contact Matiello.

Justice Reinvestment Bill Passes House

A legislative initiative to reform the state’s criminal justice system cleared the North Dakota House with little debate Wednesday.

Legislation Aims for More Early Release Chances

Prisoners would have greater opportunities for early release, even if they received a mandatory minimum sentence, under legislation resulting from the cooperation between all three branches of government on criminal-justice reform.

Mass. Officials Unveil Plan to Prevent People From Returning to Jail

Top Massachusetts officials from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches unveiled a plan Tuesday aimed at reducing the number of prisoners who are released and then return to jail or prison.

But the bipartisan package, a version of which is likely to become law, turned up the heat on a long-simmering debate over where to draw the line between protecting public safety and helping fewer people end up behind bars.

Report Seeks Criminal Justice Reform In Massachusetts

Massachusetts has the second-lowest per-capita incarceration rate in the nation, but more than half of the people leaving houses of correction and state prisons end up back in court at some point.

State Leaders Unveil Bill Aimed at Cutting Recidivism

State leaders unveiled long-awaited legislation Tuesday aimed at reducing recidivism rates in the criminal justice system. But whether the bill tackles the most pressing issue facing the system or simply marks a good first step in what should be a more sweeping reform process depends on which leader is speaking.

Corrections Budget Passes Senate

Senate members passed a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget with several amendments, including funding for the behavioral health program spending as part of an effort at criminal justice reform.

Malloy’s New Pitch for Bail and Juvenile Justice Reforms

A year after legislators rebuffed him, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is back with revised versions of proposals that would reform Connecticut’s bail system and expand the jurisdiction of its juvenile courts, issues that have edged closer to the mainstream of criminal-justice thinking in the U.S.

Debunking Common Myths About the State’s Prisons

With the subject of Alabama’s prison population problem in the news regularly it is important to correct many myths that have arisen about our prison population. Many of these myths are so common that they are generally accepted by many as established facts. We can’t adequately address the problem of prison overcrowding without understanding the true facts.

Norquist Joins Discussion on Criminal Justice Reform in North Dakota

A nationally known anti-tax leader said North Dakota is on the right path with legislative efforts to reform the state’s criminal justice system in order to provide long-term savings to taxpayers while reducing the number of incarcerated individuals.

Criminal Justice Bill Stymied Again

An omnibus bill aimed at changing Arkansas’s criminal-justice system stalled again Wednesday in a Senate committee, where it has been for weeks as sponsors try to hammer out details through negotiations with county groups.

Op-Ed: Think Outside Box to Deal With Young Adult Criminals

Massachusetts has long been recognized as a leader in juvenile justice reform for youth who commit crimes prior to age 18. By contrast, our state’s record with “emerging adults” ages 18 to 24 who are handled in our adult criminal justice system is less exemplary. As law enforcement officials, we witness them being failed by the system every day, staying in jail the longest and returning the most quickly.

New Jail Hopes to Expand Mental Health Resources

“Just locking up people is not very fulfilling,” said Skagit County, Washington Chief of Corrections Charlie Wend. “(What’s fulfilling is) those people who come back and say, ‘I am out and have a life and it’s because of what you guys did for me.’”

Prison & Probation Reform Legislation and More: This Week at the State House

As part of its continuing efforts at justice reinvestment, the Rhode Island Senate today passed several bills introduced by Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) that would overhaul Rhode Island’s probation and parole system. An identical package of bills is being considered by the House Judiciary Committee.

Probation And Parole Reform Clear RI Senate

On Thursday the Rhode Island Senate unanimously passed seven bills that seek a major overhaul of Rhode Island’s probation and parole system. The bills, packaged together and dubbed the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, address the excessive use of probation in the criminal justice system, particularly among black men and the mentally ill.

Changes Aim to Meet Future Jail Mandates

Potter County has already taken a number of steps to adapt to the proposed changes, some of which will likely be mandated by the commonwealth or the federal government in the future. Though the reforms are likely to provide cost-savings in the long run, they do require start-up and operational funding, pulling available money from other criminal justice aspects.

Changes Aim to Meet Future Jail Mandates

Potter County has already taken a number of steps to adapt to the proposed changes, some of which will likely be mandated by the commonwealth or the federal government in the future. Though the reforms are likely to provide cost-savings in the long run, they do require start-up and operational funding, pulling available money from other criminal justice aspects.

Montana Senate Endorses Bills to Lower Prison Population

The Montana Senate on Wednesday endorsed three bills aimed at reducing the prison population, the number of people on parole and probation and related costs.

The bills that passed on second reading were among several supported by the legislature’s Commission on Sentencing after the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments evaluated Montana’s corrections system and made recommendations to reduce spending and recidivism and improve public safety.

County Continues Steps to Address Mental Health

Idaho incarcerates those with serious mental illnesses at a more than 4 to 1 ratio compared to hospitalization, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center. Nearly 40,000 Idahoans have a serious mental illness as reported by the National Institute on Mental Health in 2015.

Attorneys: Judicial Cuts Would Have Local Impact

Area county attorneys say the pinch will be felt locally in probation and juvenile services if lawmakers follow through on Gov. Pete Ricketts’ proposal to slash $8.2 million from the judicial branch in the state’s next two-year budget.

Bills Aim to Reduce Incarceration, Costs

Lawmakers took up their first round of debate Tuesday over a pair of primary bills aimed at reducing the state’s incarcerated population and its associated costs.

For several months during the interim, lawmakers worked on the issue with the nonpartisan Council of State Governments Justice Center. Supporters told members of the House Judiciary Committee that such reform is long overdue.

All 3 Northeastern Pa. Prisons Will Remain Open

After three weeks of angst, employees of the State Correctional Institution at Retreat woke up Thursday to the news that their place of employment will not close — preserving some 400 jobs, at least for the immediate future.

Pittsburgh State Prison Closing to Save Pennsylvania $80M Annually

The Wolf administration said recently it will close Pittsburgh State Prison to save money at a time when inmate numbers are dropping and the state faces a huge budget deficit, but has opted against an earlier plan to also shut down a second facility.

A Broader Vision

Over the last decade, as the criminal justice reform movement grew in strength and many states rolled back policies tied to mass incarceration, Massachusetts leaders made only minor changes to its criminal justice system. Our laws weren’t as draconian as other states’, they said, and our incarceration rate isn’t as large.

Criminal-Justice Reform Bills Advance at Legislature

A state Senate panel Wednesday advanced a half-dozen bills designed to reduce Montana’s prison population through sentencing and probation-and-parole reforms – and the primary sponsor told MTN News she won’t be surprised if they pass.

Chief Justice Calls on Lawmakers to Tackle Probation Reform

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Harris Hines spoke up for probation reforms, juvenile justice support, legal help for middle income families and a unified gateway for electronic filings in his first State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the General Assembly Wednesday at the Capitol

Justice Reinvestment Act Worth a Closer Look

The state Department of Correction projects to turn back $3.7 million of its budget to the state coffers in the next fiscal year. Let’s throw a party and celebrate. Give the department an award for keeping a watch on state spending. Send letters congratulating these folks for a job well done.

Women’s Jail Proposal on Hold

The idea of building a new jail for women in Essex County came up often on the campaign trail for sheriff last fall, and again in Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger’s inauguration speech this month.

Wolf Administration Statement Ahead of Corrections’ Facility Closure Hearing

Today, Sec. John Wetzel, a national leader in criminal justice, and his staff from the Department of Corrections, including experts on prison population and safety, will testify in front of a joint public hearing. The DOC has seen a historic reduction in their prison population and is able to close two older, expensive state correctional institutions, provide a new position to each impacted staff member, and safely relocate all effected inmates to one of the existing 24 SCIs across the Commonwealth.

Judiciary Cuts Waste Funds in Long Run

Let’s hope that state senators were tuned in when Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Mike Heavican spoke to them last week about the judicial branch of state government.

In his State of the Judiciary address in the legislative chambers and at a committee hearing, Heavican said flatly and plainly that budget cuts proposed by Gov. Pete Ricketts threaten prison reform.

Santa Barbara County Working to Keep Mentally Ill out of Jail

The Santa Barbara County, California Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a Resolution last month to actively support the work of the Stepping Up Initiative led by the National Association of Counties, Council of State Governments Justice Center, and the American Psychiatric Foundation to make more effective use of strained budgets and safely reduce the number of adults with mental illnesses in jails by connecting them to community based treatment and services when possible.

Concerns Over Probations Cuts

Nebraska’s top judge used his State of the Judiciary address to issue a strong warning Thursday.

Burdick Delineates Court Issues for Lawmakers

Idaho lawmakers were challenged by Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Burdick today to consider whether they want to continue the state’s policy of having at least one magistrate judge in each county that wants one, even as the population continues to concentrate in Ada, Canyon, Kootenai, Bonneville, Bannock and Twin Falls counties; the policy’s been in place since 1969.

Conservative Group Backs Raimondo’s ‘Justice Reinvestment’ Bills

Last session, the justice reinvestment legislation didn’t have bicameral support at the State House; the full Senate resoundingly passed the bills while the House of Representatives didn’t vote on the bills. While it’s still unclear what the House will do this session, the six bills that were born out of a task force appointed by Governor Gina Raimondo, will at least have some level of bipartisan support.

Arkansas Legislators Introduce Parolee Measure

The proposal includes limiting the amount of time parole and probation violators spend locked up and where they go. The law also would make judges who divert from sentencing guidelines more subject to appeals in which they have to explain their reasoning.

Keeping the Mentally Ill out of Jail

A summit is underway this week to develop ways to reduce the number of mentally ill people in county jails. Sheriffs, judges, elected officials, and mental health professionals from 53 counties are in Sacramento this week.

Corrosive Impact of Prison Time on Family Prosperity

David Safavian, deputy director of the American Conservative Union’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform, emphasized the destructive role prison time plays on family stability. Even upon release from prison, he said, a person convicted of a felony is 50 percent less likely to get a job interview and will earn 10 to 40 percent less money.

State Senator Looks to Reform Criminal Justice In Arkansas

The Washington County Jail houses inmates from Madison County, Springdale and Fayetteville, along with some state and federal inmates. New legislation is set to not only decrease the number of criminals who come through the doors, but also could give repeat offenders a hand up, not a hand out.

Opinion: A Better State Budget for Pennsylvania

The governor’s approach this year is vastly different from his 2015 plan, which called for the largest tax increase in state history and triggered the longest budget impasse in modern memory. It’s also a world away from Mr. Wolf’s retroactive income tax increase proposal last year.

Report: Criminal Justice Reform Could Save Montana $70M

The Council of State Governments Justice Center reentry announced their findings at the State Capitol, after a nearly two-year study. Lawmakers from both parties joined representatives from the Justice Center to back their recommendations.

Justice Reinvestment: Seeking Ways to Reduce Recidivism

Justice reinvestment in Pennsylvania, if enacted as planned, is projected to save the state more than $100 million over the next five years. Roughly half of that money is recommended to be put back into programs meant to reduce crime and re-offending, and in turn save even more money.

McCaffrey Bill Would Overhaul Rhode Island Probation, Parole System

The legislation is the culmination of months of work by Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group, which she created by executive order in July 2015. The group undertook an exhaustive study of the state’s criminal justice system using a “justice reinvestment” approach, designed to identify new ways to relieve pressures on the correctional system and increase public safety.

Second Chance for Criminal Justice Reform Bills in Rhode Island Assembly

The bills include: more thorough screening of those up for probation or parole to better identify those in need of mental-health treatment; changes the penalties for misdemeanors, felony assaults and larceny; and alters how the state Parole Board determines an inmate’s release by including criminal history and attitudes that “bear on the likelihood to re-offend.”

Justice Reinvestment: Reducing Cost in the Criminal Justice System

More than $2 billion was allocated this fiscal year to operate Pennsylvania state correctional institutions to house prisoners. State officials are hoping to use a process known as justice reinvestment to reduce that cost and put those savings into programs that will help stop crime before it starts.

Crisis Centers, Mental Health…

Gov. Butch Otter is calling for $1.5 million next year to pay the remaining costs of starting up new mental health crisis centers in Twin Falls and Boise, joining those already established in Idaho Falls and Coeur d’Alene. “They are providing significant savings on law enforcement responses and hospital costs, and already have become critical parts of local systems of care,” he said.

Rosenberg Outlines Ambitious Two-Year Agenda

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Wednesday embarked on his second term as the top Democrat in the upper chamber, outlining an ambitious, if challenging, agenda for the coming two years that could bump up against the priorities of a more moderate and business-friendly House and a governor focused on controlling growth in government.

11 Issues to Watch in the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Smaller prison populations and lower costs, better re-entry programs and services, and reduced recidivism rates are among the goals of criminal justice reform advocates who have seen their policy proposals wither in past sessions. Legislative leaders told Gov. Deval Patrick in 2012 that they would revisit criminal justice and sentencing reforms in the 2013-2014 session, but they didn’t.

Pull Up One More Chair For Youth

If you want to learn about ways to save our environment, you’d convene a group of scientists. If you want to assess ways to improve our health care systems, you’d convene a group of health care providers. Why is it that when we tackle major issues that directly affect youth, we often miss the opportunity to convene young people?

Proposed Bills to Address Increasing Costs at State Prison

Last legislative session, we served on the budget subcommittee tasked with overseeing the budget of the Department of Corrections. We became concerned with significant growth in this agency’s budget and created a Sentencing Commission that, for the first time in more than 20 years, took an entry-to-exit look at our criminal justice system. Why the big growth in our inmate population when our crime rate has been stable and relatively low for years? Our goals were to improve public safety and service to victims, hold offenders accountable, and be better stewards of your tax dollars.

Sonoma County Joins Effort to Shift Care of Mentally Ill Away from Jails

“We’ve got to provide really good treatment in our criminal justice system and simultaneously we’ve got to advocate for people with mental illness and make sure that health care providers are giving the care they should be,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, the incoming board chairwoman.

In D.C., the Federal Government Gives Released Criminals Many Chances to Fail

A version of Pugh’s case plays out frequently in the District. About 150 times a year, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency loses track of offenders it classifies as high-risk, the agency acknowledges. Several hundred additional offenders classified as lower-risk also go missing, and scores of them turn up as suspects in new crimes, according to court records

How to Improve Nevada’s Juvenile Justice System

“What our analysis showed, basically, is Nevada’s spending about $100 million a year on its juvenile justice system, but almost nowhere in the system are they really tracking what they’re getting for those dollars,” said Josh Weber, program director at the CSG Justice Center. “They don’t really know what recidivism rates are for youths in the system and they generally don’t know how the system is performing.”

Stepping Up Initiative Takes on Challenges of Mental Health in Jails

“Ultimately we’re trying to tackle a problem that’s not new,” Richard Cho, director of behavioral health for the CSG Justice Center and project manager for the initiative said. “It’s become commonplace that our jails have become de facto hospitals.”

Keeping Mentally Ill People out of Jails

Yavapai County, Arizona Sheriff Scott Mascher, long an advocate of diversion programs for people with mental health problems, said last month, “Should the jails be the de facto mental health treatment centers? I don’t think we should be.”

Group Recommends Ways to Reduce Pennsylvania’s Prison Population

Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative Working Group passed a new set of criminal justice policy recommendations recently that, if implemented successfully, could drive the state prison population down by another 1,000 inmates and save $108 million by 2022.

A Tipping Point for Criminal Justice Reform in Massachusetts

Over the years, piles of reform proposals on an array of issues have been decided by statistical analyses that could be colored dozens of different ways. But when statistics show that in some parts of Boston, residents from nearly every other home on some streets are ending up in jail, the need for wholesale change is irrefutable.

Arkansas Prisons Proposals Endorsed, Advanced

A task force looking to slow the growth of the state’s inmate population recently recommended establishing crisis units for offenders with mental illnesses, providing more training for law enforcement on helping such offenders, and uploading offender assessments into a statewide database.

County Joins Initiative to Reduce Mental Illness Population in Jails

Lubbock County, Texas Sheriff Kelly Rowe has said repeatedly that mental health is the biggest issue facing jails, especially in rural counties. This week, county commissioners unanimously approved Rowe’s request to approve a resolution to join the Stepping Up Initiative, a national effort aimed at reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.

Idaho On Parole

States like Idaho are under pressure to capitalize on the promises of Justice Reinvestment—namely, cost savings and reduced rates of re-offense—by better helping offenders overcome the many challenges they face when they reenter their communities. Yet offender success depends on both personal variables and environmental factors determined by complex public policy, usually administered by agencies that are not focused on correctional outcomes.

Opinion: To Err Is Human

When we incarcerate someone a second time, it means we failed. Crime doesn’t pay; it costs. We spend over $30,000 per prisoner every year in Wisconsin. It’s a big reason why the department costs us $2.5 billion.

How Has Prison Reform Impacted Alabama?

The criminal justice system has historically relied on human judgment for sentencing, but Alabama’s recent criminal justice reforms are attempting to equate human error to a quantifiable number.

Officials Tour Municipal Court, Observe Programs

“These programs are designed to try to link people to appropriate treatment services, stabilize them in the community, and to reduce the rate of re-arrest and recidivism, which is helpful not only to the individual and their family, but to the community and public safety,” said Steve Goss, state circuit court judge from Albany, Georgia.

Rhode Islanders on Probation

There are now nearly 24,000 Rhode Islanders on probation. Rhode Island has a relatively low rate of incarceration, but the second highest rate of individuals on probation in the nation. About 9,000 are actively supervised and the remaining are banked—meaning they remain in the system, unmanaged. The state’s antiquated practice of keeping individuals on probation for an average of six years—three times the national average—is pushing up the prison population as it is projected to add about $28 million to the Department of Corrections budget. In fiscal 2016, 25 percent of all sentenced admissions to the Adult Corrections Institutions were probation violators.

Report: Nevada Spends $95 Million Supervising Juvenile Offenders

Nevada spends almost $95 million a year supervising juvenile offenders, but there is no way to tell if the money is being used wisely, a national organization says. The Council of State Governments Justice Center said about half of the youths on probation or parole reoffend in one to two years in Clark and Washoe counties.

U.S. Senator Tillis Says He May Not Return If Bills Like Sentencing Changes Aren’t Passed

“People bring up Willie Horton or some other political bombshell in the past, but what they’re not being intellectually honest about is if we do not work on early release, if we do not rehabilitate 95 percent of the people who go into the prison system and come out, far more innocent people are going to be harmed,” Senator Tillis (R-NC) said.

Task Force Begins Weighing Overhaul of Nevada’s Juvenile Justice System

Governor Brian Sandoval established a task force in July to thoroughly review Nevada’s juvenile system and propose changes, and has indicated that overhauling the state’s approach to criminal justice for youths and adults will be on his agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

Nevada Task Force Considers Improvements to Juvenile Justice System

Judges, lawmakers, youth advocates and juvenile probation officials from across the state have formed a task force to look at ways to improve the juvenile justice system. After studying trends in juvenile arrests throughout Nevada, experts released recommendations to help prevent teens from breaking the law again.

Twin Falls (ID) Crisis Center Opens Amid Stressful Holiday Season

The center is one of several that have cropped up across the Gem State in recent years, as legislators have directed state and justice reinvestment grant dollars to open and staff them. Other facilities are in Idaho Falls and Coeur d’Alene.

U.S. ED Secretary Sends Letter to States Calling for an End to Corporal Punishment in Schools

In the short term, students who receive this form of punishment show an increase in aggressive and defiant behavior–the opposite of the intended outcome. In the long term, students who experience physical punishment in school are more likely to later grapple with substance abuse and mental health issues, including depression, personality disorders and post-traumatic stress.

Our View: Inmates and Mental Illness

Keeping people with mental illness out of jail not only helps them to have productive lives, but it reduces the amount we spend on their confinement, allowing these resources to be used more productively elsewhere, writes the Editorial Board of the Winston-Salem Journal.

Mapping Incarceration in Boston

Large swaths of mostly minority Boston neighborhoods are so heavily affected by the criminal justice system that nearly every street has a resident who has spent time in jail, a concentration of incarceration that is costing millions of dollars and threatening the social fabric of neighborhoods already struggling with high rates of poverty and other challenges.

Rethinking School Discipline

Hampstead Hill Academy in Baltimore, Maryland has actively incorporated “restorative justice” into their school’s culture, a model that involves holding structured conversations to facilitate relationships and reconciliation.

Why Reentry Programs? Why Now?

“There’s a real growing knowledge of how many people cycle through jails,” says Nicole Jarrett, director of adult programs in corrections and reentry for The Council of State Governments Justice Center. “We know most of the people that enter a jail will return back into the community, and the cycling—the churning—really costs the criminal justice system, and it costs the individual.”

The Long Road Home in Rural America: Challenges & Strategies for Rural Re-Entry Supervision

The supervision of individuals returning from jail or prison to rural American communities presents many challenges, but community supervision agencies in rural areas seem to be embracing these challenges with resilient ways to overcome them, according to the authors of a recent study that surveyed community supervision agencies in rural areas.

Checking the Pulse on Criminal Justice Reform in Massachusetts

From police contact to reentry, criminologists have demonstrated evidence-based policy and practice to lessen recidivism, reduce racial disparities, save taxpayers unnecessary cost, and ameliorate disparate impact on high incarceration rate communities. Data uncovered through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative process are revealing where such change is required in Massachusetts.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Prioritizes Racial Disparities in Massachusetts

Data from the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission shows that the racial and ethnic disparity in the rates of imprisonment in Massachusetts is significantly greater than it is nationwide. To learn the reasons for this disparity, the Chief Justice has asked Dean Martha Minow of Harvard Law School to establish an independent research team to examine the issue.

Officials Step Up Supports for Parolees with Mental Health Issues

As a parole officer for the Kansas Department of Corrections, specializing in offenders with serious mental illnesses in Sedgwick County, Dawn Shepler would help her clients find housing, make appointments for health care and sign up for benefits such as food stamps.

SJC Chief Wants to Know If Minorities Get ‘Equal Justice’

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants said Thursday he has commissioned a probe into sentencing disparities for minority defendants in the state’s criminal justice system, saying Massachusetts should take “a hard look at how we can better fulfill our promise to provide equal justice for every litigant.”

Gants Launches Study of Racial Disparities in Incarceration

The state must confront racial disparities in imprisonment rates and move to “reimagine” a flawed criminal justice system to focus less on incarceration and more on lowering recidivism, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants said on Thursday.

Arkansas Senate Report

A legislative task force on criminal justice has recommended changes in sentencing laws with the goal of controlling overcrowding of jails and prisons.

The legislature will consider the recommendations during the 2017 regular session, which begins in January. Some proposals would require additional state funding, so the preliminary work on prison reform will necessarily take place during legislative budget hearings that are going on now.

Nevada Task Force Analyzes How to Improve Juvenile Justice System

Compromised of lawmakers, judges and other officials, the task force wants to create better resources for youth cycling through the juvenile justice system.  Research showed that Nevada has seen a significant drop in the number of youth referred to the system, but a greater proportion of juveniles are receiving supervision, placed into residential centers and the state correctional facility. And services such as substance abuse, mental heath and therapy are not aligned with what youth need.

Mental Health Is ‘No. 1′ Issue Facing Texas, U.S. Jails

Hundreds of law enforcement professionals from across the U.S. raised their hands to answer a simple question on Monday: “How many in this group (have) a story – either personal or (professional) – about confronting somebody with a mental health problem?” National Sheriff’s Association Director Jonathan Thompson asked.

What’s the Right Thing to Do with an 18-Year-Old Caught with a Gun?

DIANE MCMANUS SAYS her youngest child, Timothy, is “no street kid.” He was “raised in the church,” she says, a respectful son who minded the rules she set down, even as a teenager growing up in a rough patch of Dorchester off Blue Hill Avenue. But while Diane McManus was out of town in February 2014, visiting an older daughter who was undergoing surgery in South Carolina, Tim defied her orders to be home by 11 p.m. He was stopped by police a block from their home just after 1 a.m. on a Saturday morning and arrested when they found a loaded handgun in his jacket.

Recovery Point of Charleston Plans for Nov. 3 Opening

The walls inside the former Mountaineer Gas building on Stockton Street have been painted in pastel pink and purple, bright blue and green. Beginning early next month, the 13,000-square-foot structure will serve as a 92-bed long-term treatment facility for women suffering substance abuse problems in the community.

Arkansas Officials Offer Plans to Reduce Prison Populations

In 2015, the Arkansas Department of Corrections put 70 percent more people in prison than it did in 2012. That same year, Governor Hutchinson announced he’d hired The Council of State Governments Justice Center to reduce the number of inmates and save the state money.

Panel Favors Steps to Ease Prison Crush in Arkansas

Proposals aimed at reducing crowding in Arkansas’s prisons and helping offenders with addictions and mental illnesses were backed recently by a group given the task by the Legislature more than a year ago of examining problems in the criminal-justice system.

Panel Adopts Recommendations for Reducing Prison Overcrowding in Arkansas

A legislative task force recently voted to adopt a report containing a slate of recommendations for reforming Arkansans’ criminal justice system with the goal of reducing prison and jail overcrowding. The Council of State Governments Justice Center, which has been studying prison overcrowding in Arkansas, submitted the report to the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force during a joint meeting with the House and Senate judiciary committees and the Behavioral Health Treatment Access Legislative Task Force.

The Surprisingly Weak Link between Incarceration and Crime

The logic of the “tough on crime” movement holds that punishing people harshly for their offenses—whether violent or nonviolent—is a critical tool to prevent crime. That attitude was the driving force behind criminal justice policy in Oklahoma and across the country for years, and states sent more and more people to prison each year as a result. Although crime has been decreasing steadily since its peak in the early 1990s, the incarceration rate only began dropping slowly in the last 8 years or so.

Commentary: Making Sense of the FBI’s Crime Statistics

The FBI’s annual crime report, released last week, included distressing news: violent crime – while still at levels far below what it was 20 years ago – increased between 2014 and 2015. When elected officials see indications that their constituents are less safe, they understandably want to act. Given our roles in state government, it’s our job to help officials – and the public – make sense of those numbers so that any actions taken are effective.

Nebraska Prisons Head Optimistic Despite Persistent Crowding

Nebraska’s corrections director said recently that he is optimistic the state’s prisons will become less crowded even though a series of reforms haven’t yet reduced the inmate population as expected. He said he expects the situation to improve by next year, and expressed confidence that the department can still meet its goal of being just 40 percent over its design capacity by 2020.

Idaho Prison Rehabilitation Program Gets an Overhaul

Ashley Dowell, Department of Correction’s Division of Prisons deputy chief, said in the past judges could sentence offenders to a 90-day, 120-day, nine-month or yearlong rehabilitation program. “Their (The Council of State Governments Justice Center) findings (on) our old programs was that they were complex and confusing and needed to be modernized,” Dowell said.

Massachusetts Criminal Justice Panel Working Toward Year-End Policy Debate

After months studying recidivism trends, drivers of incarceration and other elements of criminal justice in Massachusetts, researchers from The Council of State Governments Justice Center plan to gather with a 25-member working group in December to go over final policy recommendations.

Opinion: We Can’t Arrest Our Way out of Pennsylvania’s Heroin Epidemic

We must treat those who are nonviolent and in need of help, force drug and insurance companies to be part of the solution, and collaborate with law enforcement, the courts, human services providers, and the medical community as part of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive solution.

When a Policy Alone Is Not Enough

In his first eight sessions as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Kris Steele paid scant attention to crime and punishment. But, in 2008, Steele’s work on the state budget put Oklahoma’s prison system in his sights for the first time. What he saw, he says, “puzzled and dismayed” him.

‘Strong Opinions’ Expected on Bill Draft for Incarceration Reform in North Dakota

Researchers from The Council of State Governments Justice Center who have guided the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative since January will present their final report and policy recommendations during a joint meeting of the Legislature’s Commission on Alternatives to Incarceration and Incarceration Issues Committee.

North Dakota Criminal Justice Bill Addresses System Shortcomings

The months-long review of the state’s criminal justice system has been conducted by the nonpartisan Council of State Governments Justice Center. The study’s intent was to craft legislation that could lead to cost reductions as well as fewer repeat offenders.

Where a Humane Correctional System Thrives

The Washington Times By Tom Wolf ANALYSIS/OPINION: While dozens of states across the country have moved forward with bipartisan-supported criminal justice reforms, Pennsylvania holds a unique place in this effort as the birthplace of the movement. In 1787, many of […]

Opinion: Justice System Must Do Better

Pennsylvanians deserve better and when we know better, we can do better. That’s why Governor Wolf has tasked the Justice Reinvestment Initiative team to look specifically at how to improve the bail system in Pennsylvania.

Couple’s Murder-Suicide Puts Focus on Pennsylvania Bail System

The recent murder-suicide of a couple in Washington County drew criticism of the way a judge handled domestic violence charges that had been pending against the husband, but highlighted what some say is a flawed bail system in Pennsylvania.

Celebrated Pasadena Police Officer Is a Rising Expert for Mental Health Awareness in the Law Enforcement Community

“Knowledge is power and I feel that if I can send officers out in the field with more knowledge and more tools for their tool box, then they will be able to handle mental health crisis calls better and foster better outcomes for all involved,” explained Domino Scott-Jackson, a Pasadena Police officer who has become the face of the Police-Mental Health Collaboration Toolkit video produced by The CSG Justice Center.

Recovering Addicts in North Dakota Seek Peer Coaches

Seen by experts as an important piece in drug and mental health treatment, peer coaches are rare in North Dakota, where there is no common certification process. But new funding sources and a growing interest in making them more available could bring them to cities around the state, potentially adding manpower to a thin treatment workforce.

A Reform Wrinkle in Arkansas

Arkansas either needs to build more prison beds or change its practices on who gets locked up and for how long. Although the capacity of state prisons is 15,672, the number of inmates is pushing the 18,000 mark, with many of them being held in county jails until beds are available in the prison system. By 2023, the number could top 21,000, according to projections.

Candidates Consider Vermont’s Future use of Private Prisons

In the wake of an announcement that the federal prison system will move away from using private facilities, some candidates in Vermont see potential to end its out-of-state prison program by reducing the inmate population, while others raise issues around costs.

Female Prisoners in North Dakota Appeal to Lawmakers Charged with Justice Reform

Like many facilities in the state, the Dakota Women’s Corrections and Rehabilitation Center is usually full and has more turnover than ever, administrators told the lawmakers. To accommodate the large numbers, a basketball gym has become a dorm, and about a hundred people serve their time at the state hospital in Jamestown or at halfway houses.

Correcting Corrections, by the Numbers

Arkansas’s prison population is among the fastest growing in the country. Last week, after a year of analysis, the Council of State Governments Justice Center presented its recommendations for reforms to a legislative task force. Among the figures:

Scientific American: When Police Deal with People Who Have Mental Health Issues

You’ve undoubtedly heard about the recent report issued by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice condemning various police practices in Baltimore. What has gone largely unmentioned, however, is the report’s detailed review of how encounters between police and people with mental illnesses result in “unnecessarily violent confrontations.”

Idaho Moved Away from Private Prison in 2014

The federal government’s announcement this month to phase out the use of private prisons has sparked a national debate on the privatization of prisons.

It also comes on the heels of a series of changes made by the Idaho Department of Correction in the last two years, in part due to the state’s takeover of the Idaho State Correctional Center from a private company.

Idaho moved away from private prison in 2014

The federal government’s announcement this month to phase out the use of private prisons has sparked a national debate on the privatization of prisons. It also comes on the heels of a series of changes made by the Idaho Department of Correction in the last two years, in part due to the state’s takeover of the Idaho State Correctional Center from a private company.

Trying Times, Bright Spots at Corrections

It’s hot and it’s crowded. Not a good mix for many places, especially not the Nebraska Department of Corrections, which is about 160 percent over capacity with 5,400 inmates. The number of inmate assaults on guards – and one another – continues to climb. Multiple reports indicate general unrest among the population and threats of physical violence toward staff.

Trying times, bright spots at corrections

A study by the Council of State Governments indicates that Nebraska could reduce recidivism by providing more access to programs. A report from the organization’s Justice Center said the state currently misses opportunities to identify risks and needs of inmates and to target program resources accordingly. About a third of inmates with one year of parole eligibility are not getting parole hearings because they have not finished programming, or don’t have access to programs.

Arkansas Criminal Justice Reform Proposal Due Today

We’ll get a good sense of what criminal justice reform legislation might look like in the 2017 General Assembly later today — as well as some potential stumbling blocks to its passage. Justice Center, an offshoot of the national nonprofit Council of State Governments, will offer policy recommendations to the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force this afternoon at the Arkansas Association of Counties conference. If the task force approves the recommendations — a vote will likely come in the next weeks — they’ll become the foundation of criminal justice legislation next year.

Arkansas criminal justice reform proposal due today

We’ll get a good sense of what criminal justice reform legislation might look like in the 2017 General Assembly later today — as well as some potential stumbling blocks to its passage.

Task Force Weighs New Approaches to Juvenile Justice in Tennessee

A new task force created by lawmakers has begun reviewing the state’s approach to juvenile justice, weighing options that include removing oversight of delinquent youth from the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to creating a more uniform probation system. The Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force has until January to make recommendations to the legislature about how the state should treat the approximately 1,235 delinquent youth overseen by DCS without jeopardizing public safety.

Study Shows Probation May Be Answer to Incarceration Costs Reduction

A lot of people are incarcerated for drug offenses across Pennsylvania. But in Allegheny County, many drug arrests are handled through probation rather than prison time. Legal experts are saying Allegheny County’s approach may prove a good way to cut down on incarceration costs.

‘Stepping Up Together’ in Clay County

The initiative resolved to take action in several ways such as assembling diverse leadership teams, collecting data to better identify adults with mental illnesses who are entering the jail system, and identifying available mental health programs and services available in the county.

Improved Expungement Laws, More Funding Needed Moving Forward

Over the past few years, West Virginia officials have created a number of initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic and to provide addiction treatment options, such as the Justice Reinvestment Act and Help-4-WV. But according to state leaders many additional measures must be taken, such as improved expungement laws for nonviolent felons, acceptance of medication-assisted treatment programs and increased funding for treatment centers.

Start Early for Real Criminal Justice Reform

Impoverishment aligns itself with violence, crime, drug abuse, dysfunctional families, loss and hopelessness, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told a room full of attendees wrapping up breakfast at the National Forum on Criminal Justice at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel Monday morning.

Opinion: Overload in Montana’s Justice System

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito is working to launch a program that would give first-time, nonviolent drug offenders the opportunity to get into addiction treatment and out of the criminal justice system faster.

Deputizing Crisis Care

“I believe that the collapse of the mental-health treatment system may be one of the greatest social failures in the United States in the 20th century,” said Santa Barbara County (CA) Undersheriff Bernard Melekian at a recent talk hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Guest Commentary: Sen. Creem Argues Juvenile Justice Reform is key to Improving Future Outcomes

Flip through the pages of most newspapers — or, more likely, click through their digital versions — and you will be hard-pressed not to come across an argument advocating for criminal justice reform. This topic is “trending” across both blue and red states, and with good reason. I have long argued that reframing how we view criminal justice offers opportunities to reduce recidivism, enhance public safety, and increase overall equity and fairness. By focusing on the most effective use of resources, criminal justice reform can also provide a real opportunity for financial savings to the state.

Hispanic Group Joining Push to End Overcriminalization

A recent event hosted by the Libre Institute highlighted an issue that’s gaining support across the ideological spectrum: Reforms in the criminal-justice system that would clean up the legal code, not only reducing penalties for nonviolent offenses but also removing many crimes from the books.

Arkansas’s Jail Population has Grown Faster Than all but one Other State

Arkansas’s jail population grew more than all but one other state between 2006 and 2013 in terms of percentage. Among those in jails are a disproportionally high number of people with mental health and substance abuse disorders, and throughout the correction system, there is a dearth of treatment programs. Meanwhile, the state Parole Board is keeping more and more inmates in prison beyond the date they are eligible for parole.

What Happens When the Homeless Have Nowhere to Go?

These closures have raised questions about what happens to a city when resources for the homeless community begin to dry up. We talk about these consequences and what the city can do with Richard Cho, Director of Behavioral Health at The Council of State Governments Justice Center and former Deputy Director on the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Spartanburg Jail Welcomes County’s Help on Mental Health Issues

By “stepping up,” local leaders are making a countywide commitment said Richard Cho, director of behavioral health for the Council of State Governments Justice Center. They’re agreeing to make timely assessments; to obtain data that can be tracked monthly; and to communicate with the right community agencies to learn how released inmates can be connected to treatment, he said.

New Data Provide Important Insights on Young Adult Justice in Massachusetts

The Council of State Governments Justice Center reinvestment team recently convened the working group for a third meeting. Their presentation focused on recidivism with particular attention to pretrial decision-making, incarcerated populations, and programming within houses of correction. The CSG also provided an addendum with additional slides.

Opinion: Keystone Criminal Justice

As lifelong conservatives, we’re proud to call ourselves tough on crime and to support lengthy prison terms for dangerous felons. But after a long, taxpayer-funded era of mass incarceration, it’s time we face some hard facts: Our bloated, hugely expensive criminal-justice system has produced disappointing results.

Officials Eye Data Tool to Gauge Pretrial Detainee Risks

After reviewing data on pretrial detainees held in three county jails, members of a state criminal justice working group said they could see benefits to adopting a data-based pretrial risk assessment tool, although barriers exist to doing so in Massachusetts.

Nevada Receiving Assistance in State’s Juvenile Justice Review

Nevada beat out 17 other states to receive technical help from The Council of State Governments Justice Center, a nonprofit nonpartisan organization which will be conducting the review. Right now, juvenile arrests are down statewide and youth incarceration is at its lowest point in 10 years. But the real issue, according to Governor Brian Sandoval, is making sure millions of dollars in state funding are being used most effectively.

West Virginia Pushes Spending in Corrections Rather Than Prisons

The U.S. Department of Education released a report last week that shows all states have accelerated their spending on prisons more than they have on public education. And West Virginia is one state that has come close to leading the nation in its push to pour more money into corrections.

To Save on Prison Costs, Idaho Seeks to Change How Inmates Think

Idaho Department of Corrections rolled out its revamped rider program at four Idaho prisons this spring. The program now requires more in-class practice for new learned skills. It requires role playing for situations that could put inmates at risk to commit new crimes. It’s a military-like regimen. Inmates say changing their criminal and addictive thinking is difficult work.

Is Change Coming in the Cash Bail System?

Earlier this year, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy proposed one of the country’s most sweeping bail reforms. Included in a package of legislation billed as “Second Chance 2.0” was a provision that would eliminate bail for misdemeanor offenses, thereby freeing hundreds of inmates awaiting trial in detention because they could not afford bail.

Adding Prisons Will Not Set Montana Free

The Council of State Governments Justice Center recently completed a study of the Montana penal system and developed a set of recommendations for reducing the state’s prison population. They include expansion of deferred prosecution programs and drug courts that emphasize treatment over incarceration. A driving force behind the state’s surging prison population are drug arrests, which exploded by 62 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Arkansas Governor Says New Prisons Not Likely on Agenda

Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently balked at the need for the state to invest in more prison space to address a growing inmate population. While speaking with reporters about potential tax cuts come the next legislative session in January, Hutchinson said the state’s “ability to manage the prison populations” will be a variable in whatever cuts are proposed.

Opinion: Rhode Island House Dropped Ball on Criminal Justice Reform

I was astounded to learn that the criminal justice reform package died in the House Judiciary Committee without even being called to the floor (“The Speaker rules,” news, June 29). Clearly, the legislation did not get anywhere near the serious consideration that it deserved. This was not a project shrouded in secrecy and sprung on the House in the wee hours of the morning. Information about the program was readily accessible.

Editorial: Programs for Inmates Help Public Safety

The question of how much to spend on programming to keep more inmates from returning to prison presents Nebraska elected officials with a classic dilemma. In the short term it saves money for the state to keep programming expenses low. But in the long-term it will end up costing more money, as well as increasing the risk to public safety.

Ohio’s Prison Population Rising

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections is on the verge of a dubious milestone. Despite the DRC’s efforts and resources, Director Gary Mohr said at a statewide conference in May, “I think it’s a pretty safe bet that by July 1 of this year, we will set an all-time historic record of incarcerated Ohioans.”

Fitz’s Hits: Hard to Buy ‘Soft on Crime’

For 10 months, the 27-member Justice Reinvestment Working Group, formed by Governor Raimondo, worked with The Council of State Governments Justice Center, and the Senate passed six criminal justice bills. But the bills died in the House during the all-nighter that concluded the legislative session. Mattiello said changes made as the bills moved through the Senate caused concern.

PBS Newshour: Breaking the School-To-Prison Pipeline for Young Offenders One Class at a Time

In most states across America, education for teen offenders pales in comparison to what they’d receive on the outside. Just one third mandate that these kids meet the same standards as their public school counterparts. Massachusetts is one of them, and there the goal is to save these young offenders with vocational classes and good old reading, writing and arithmetic.

What to do About Prison Overcrowding Topic at Dale GOP Meet

The fact that Alabama’s prisons are overcrowded was not debated. Nor was the fact that a solution needs to be found at a state level before the federal courts intervene.

What was debated at the Dale County Republican Committee meeting June 20 was how the state should deal with the fact that the state prison population is at about 186 percent of what the facilities were originally designed for.

Editorial: Nebraska’s Prison Programs Need Public Help

Outside experts just handed Nebraska prison officials a blueprint for improving how the state helps inmates become law-abiding citizens. Now it’s time to build. The state’s prisons already offer strong programs to help criminals prepare for life after prison. But the programs fall short because of long waiting lists for classes, counseling and job training. Too few prisoners get help, and a third don’t receive required services by their parole eligibility date, often delaying their release.

Opinion: How to Stop Montana’s Revolving Prison Door

Montana’s jails and prisons are at capacity now. Drug cases and offenders committing new crimes or violating probation/parole conditions account for most of the increase in the number of arrests between 2009 and 2015. In 2015, there were 30,890 arrests in Montana, compared with 26,934 in 2009.

In Search of the Felon-Friendly Workplace

Prison-to-work programs over all are “desperately inadequate,” said Devah Pager, a Harvard sociologist. “At the moment, there’s very little systematic provision of assistance to match ex-offenders with jobs at release,” said Ms. Pager, whose research focuses on the barriers that race and criminal records pose in the workplace.

Expert: Montana Parole Board Often Delays Parole for Inmates

Cathy McVey of the Council of State Governments Justice Center told a state commission studying the prison system that parole boards no longer can just act in a vacuum, and should consider how their decisions impact prison overcrowding and the overall system.

Montana Takes Aim at Surging Jail, Prison Populations

Montana’s overcrowded jails and prisons are prompting state officials to take a serious look at the complex issues behind the rising number of arrests, recidivism and policies that may be responsible for a surge in incarcerations.

RI Supreme Court Approves Probation Sentencing Overhaul

The state Supreme Court this week approved changes to court rules governing probation sentences by agreeing to cap terms for nonviolent offenses at three years, by providing a way for offenders to have their probation reduced, and by increasing the state’s burden when it seeks to send someone back to prison as a probation violator.

Prisons Group Told Costs of Recidivism

A mix of lawmakers, lawmen, judges and mental-health advocates given the task of looking for ways to tackle the state’s ballooning prison rolls recommended that the state increase funding and manpower for parole services.

Researcher: More Parole, Probation Funding Could Ease Arkansas Prison Overcrowding

Andy Barbee, research manager for the Council of State Governments Justice Center, which has been studying Arkansas’ growing prison population, told the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force that between fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2015, admissions to Arkansas prisons increased by 41 percent. Between 2012 and 2015 the increase was 70 percent, he said.

Researchers Suggest Ways to Reduce Jail, Prison Spending in Montana

Montana could reduce its spending on jails and prisons if detention facilities and treatment programs focused their services on those most likely to re-offend while others could be supervised by an increased number of probation and parole officers, researchers said.

Study: Prisons can Improve Programs for Inmates

Nebraska could keep more inmates from returning to prison by providing more access to programs, a study by analysts from the Council of State Governments Justice Center concluded.

Letting Go of What Doesn’t Work for Juvenile Probation, Embracing What Does

In this approach, juvenile probation serves to ameliorate the risk for reoffending, thereby improving public safety while simultaneously increasing the chances that youth will develop improved cognitive behavioral skills and abilities that will interrupt their trajectory into adult criminality.

Report: Effective Inmate Programs Could Help Overcrowding Issue

For years, Nebraskans have been wondering what the solution may be to the state’s prison overcrowding issue. A new report’s findings suggest the Nebraska Department of Corrections could do a better job at enrolling inmates in rehabilitation programs, making them eligible for parole and more likely not to re-offend.

County to Launch Mental Health Court July 15

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office is addressing mental health in the county with the creation of a Mental Health Treatment Court to offer intervention for those who suffer from chronic mental health issues that end up in the court system and to reduce recidivism rates.

A Post-Mortem for Probation Reform

The Justice Reinvestment reform package died at some point late last Friday night, passing the Senate but never making it out of the Judiciary Committee in the House. This was a surprising conclusion to nearly a year of momentum building around the issue of mass probation and mass incarceration, and is indicative of the uphill battle any criminal justice reform measures face. Even in an era where conversations about prison spending are front and center, substantive reform faces the same ‘tough on crime’ hurdles it always has.

R.I.’s $8.9B Budget Approved in General Assembly’s Marathon Finale

Shortly after 6 a.m. on Saturday, Rhode Island’s part-time lawmakers called it quits for the year after an all-night session that saw the 1:34 a.m. passage of a new $8.9-billion state budget — and the failure of a criminal sentencing-reform package that left the Senate president near tears.

Alabama Prison Reform Leads to New Hires for Anniston Probation Office

A portion of sweeping prison reform in Alabama has been centered on adding 100 new parole officers throughout the state as a means of lessening officers’ caseload and giving more attention to those under their watch. Since the recommendation of bringing on the new parole officers, 49 officers have been hired statewide as of June.

Rhode Island Senate OKs Bills to Revamp Probation, Parole

The state Senate on six consecutive, unanimous votes passed a package of bills intended to change how the state handles probation and parole. If passed by the House before the end of the session, they would mandate more thorough screening of defendants and those up for probation or parole to better identify suspects whose criminal behavior is more related to substance abuse or mental health problems, and get them treatment.

Jim Vincent: Reform Our Probation System

I was pleased to see the excellent June 10 Commentary piece (“Rhode Island needs probation reforms”) by A.T. Wall, director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. As the president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, I have seen firsthand how our state’s perverse probation rules have devastated many Rhode Island communities, particularly low-income communities that are predominantly made up of people of color.

Idaho Banks on Therapy-Based Treatment Reducing Recidivism

The Idaho Department of Corrections is overhauling its recidivism reduction programs in prison, probation and parole, including the Retained Jurisdiction Program. For an inmate whose judge retains jurisdiction for 365 days while he or she attends the program, the streamlining will mean fewer program components and a shift from a lot of written coursework—with much of it done outside the classroom—to more work in the classroom, including role-playing and skill practice sessions.

A.T. Wall: Rhode Island Needs Probation Reforms

Our state has the second highest probation rate in the United States—twice the national average and as much as eight times higher than some neighboring states. On any given day, more than 23,000 Rhode Islanders are on probation. One out of every 20 adult males and one in six African-American men in our state are on probation. The responsibility for supervising this large population lies with a corrections team of just 70 probation officers.

North Dakota Prison Right to Adopt New Approaches

Legislators were recently told if no action is taken the cost of contracting beds for the state’s growing prison population will total $485 million through 2025. That figure doesn’t include building any new prisons, according to Katie Mosehauer, project manager for The Council of State Governments Justice Center, which is working with lawmakers on a study of the corrections system.

Got a Criminal Record? It’s Getting Easier, Less Expensive to Expunge It

“A lot of people might be eligible [for an expungement], but they might not know,” said Madeline Neighly of the nonpartisan Council of State Governments Justice Center. “They might not have access to the paperwork or someone to walk them through the process. They usually need civil legal aid. And in some cases it’s actually quite expensive to file for expungement.”

Most ND Prison Inmates are Low-Level Felons

People sentenced for property and drug crimes present the greatest opportunity for North Dakota to slow the revolving door at the state’s prisons, researchers told the group guiding the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative on Tuesday.

Probation Key to Prison Reform in North Dakota

More than 1,000 people had their probation revoked in 2014, adding to the prison population and driving up costs, according to new research by The Council of State Governments Justice Center.

R.I. Senate Panel to Reconsider Prison Bills

The state Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday put off for two days votes on six bills that would change the state’s probation and parole system after it voted to consider modifications to four of them.

County Leaders Step Up to Reduce Incarceration of Mentally Ill People

“Data” was the word of the day at the Stepping Up Summit, held April 17 to 19 in Washington, D.C. Teams from 50 U.S. counties gathered at the summit, the latest event held by the Stepping Up Initiative, which seeks to reduce the numbers of people with mental illness in America’s county jails. The initiative is sponsored by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.

R.I. Falls Short in Meeting Treatment Needs as Alternative to Courts, Prison

One of the main goals of proposed legislation aimed at changing the state’s probation system is diverting people who need mental health or drug counseling out of the courts and into treatment, but some observers said the bills, introduced last week, won’t do much good if there aren’t enough programs to accommodate the diverted suspects.

Editorial: Time to Find Alternatives to Jail Time in North Dakota

Corrections reform has become one of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s key planks in his campaign for governor. The state’s prison system and most county jails are dealing with overcrowding issues. And, as Department of Corrections Director Leann Bertsch noted in the past, we can’t build our way out of the problem.

A Summit on the Mentally Ill in U.S. Jails

Amid growing recognition that large numbers of U.S. jail inmates suffer from mental health problems, three major organizations have gathered teams from 50 places in Washington, D.C., to plan a detailed attack on the problem.

Working Group Aims to Reform R.I. Probation System

The work of the Rhode Island Justice Reinvestment Working Group, assembled by Gov. Gina Raimondo to improve the state’s criminal justice system, seems poised to come to fruition as the anniversary of its July 2015 inception draws nearer. According to the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s website, the group was created to reform the Rhode Island probation system.

Justice-system review focused on stopping ‘revolving door’

The Lowell Sun By Katie Lannan BOSTON — People who had been convicted of prior offenses accounted for nearly three quarters of new convictions in Massachusetts in a single year, according to a data analysis presented Tuesday to a working […]

Report: Recidivism Remains a Criminal Justice Challenge

People with prior involvement in the Massachusetts criminal justice system account for three out of every four new convictions. That’s one finding of a panel set up to study the problem of recidivism in the state.

Report: Recidivism remains a criminal justice challenge

Individuals with prior involvement in the state’s criminal justice system account for three out of every four new convictions.

That’s one finding of a panel set up to study the problem of recidivism in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Criminal Justice Review Seeks Shift from Prisons

The Council of State Governments Justice Center was asked by state leaders to collect data and develop policy options that reflect an overall goal of reducing state spending on prisons and putting the savings toward polices that lower recidivism rates. The effort is hardly unique to Massachusetts. Two dozen other states are currently or in the past decade have received assistance from the center, and many have already implemented recommendations aimed at reducing inmate populations.

Rhode Island Superior Court Judges Propose Probation Sentence Limits

The judges of the Superior Court have asked the state Supreme Court to approve changes in the rules for probation sentencing, including limiting it to three years for nonviolent offenses, allowing some probation sentences to end early and making it harder to send someone back to prison as a probation violator.

Pennsylvania Parole Supervision Rate US’ Highest, Study Says

The state began in 2012 to stop technical parole violators from being sent back to prison. There’s been a slight drop in state inmates, but there were more parolees on the street and growing caseloads for parole agents who say they’re already understaffed.

Report: Native Americans Make up Disproportionate Share of Rising Montana Prison Population

Montana is putting more people in prison than it releases–not necessarily because there are more criminals, but largely because the state keeps arresting the same people over and over. That’s according to a long-awaited report from The Council of State Governments Justice Center, a national nonprofit organization contracted by state legislators to help figure out how to reduce prison spending and jail crowding.

Franklin County Jail Adding 27 Employees to Assess New Inmates

These interviews will help determine which inmates should be housed together and what services they might need. Connecting inmates to those services inside the jail will help them better transition to life outside it, Stobart said.

Bipartisan Group to Study Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System

High-ranking Pennsylvania officials from both parties recently announced a new review of the state’s criminal justice system. Despite recent reductions in the prison population, they said, Pennsylvania has the highest incarceration rate among the states in the Northeast.

Smart Talk: Reviewing Pennsylvania’s Criminal Justice System

The Council of State Governments Justice Center has worked with 24 states to find ways to reduce corrections spending, lower recidivism and redirect those funds to proven public safety strategies. The Justice Center is now reviewing Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. Appearing on this recent episode of Smart Talk to discuss what works and what doesn’t are Marc Pelka, Deputy Director of State Initiatives for the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Corrections Costs Arkansas $.5B Per Year

Arkansas has the fastest-growing prison population of any state in the U.S., according to The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center. The CSG Justice Center is presenting some of its findings and data to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s criminal justice task force this morning.

Wetzel: We Have a Responsibility to Offer a Second Chance

Corrections reform needs to begin by acknowledging that an individual’s humanity is not diminished by incarceration. As we talk about prison population reduction and recidivism reduction, we need to talk in terms of people – an investment in the people in our custody, in our corrections systems and in our communities.

Parole Board Cases up 41 Percent since 2010

The Arkansas Parole Board ended the fiscal year with the highest number of parole application reviews in the agency’s history, according to an annual report. The increase shown in the report illustrates a problem facing policymakers: how to handle the workload on the state’s penal system, including parole supervising agencies.

Can Hiring Ex-Offenders Make a Business More Profitable?

Law enforcement officials, civil rights organizations and business leaders say giving former inmates a better shot at employment is good for business and society. More than 65 million people in the US have a criminal record, from low-level property crimes to violent felonies. More than 600,000 are released from prison every year. Excluding such a large group of people from the employment pool, they say, is impractical and bad for the economy, costing tens of billions of dollars annually.

Congress Eschews Conventional Wisdom on Criminal Justice Reform

Conventional Senate wisdom says similar bills should be paired together for the best chance of receiving floor time. But lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have decided the country’s criminal justice system needs repair quickly. So to avoid creating an ominously large political target, elected officials are disentangling the massive topic into three separate, and highly overlapping, threads: sentencing reform, mental health and opioid addiction.

North Dakota to Review Justice System

With its jails and prisons overcrowded and incarceration costs on rise, North Dakota launched an effort with a national partner aimed at curbing spending on corrections and reinvesting the savings in ways that curb recidivism and boost public safety.

States at a Crossroads on Criminal Justice Reform

After two decades of “tough on crime” policies, many states are taking a hard look at the way people are charged, how much time they serve, and what happens when they are released from prison.

North Dakota Launches Jail System Review

With its jails and prisons overcrowded and incarceration costs on the rise, North Dakota recently launched an effort with a national partner to curb spending on corrections and reinvest the savings in ways that reduce recidivism and enhance public safety.

State Launches Review of Criminal Justice System

North Dakota is the 25th state to be involved in what the CSG Justice Center calls a data-driven “justice reinvestment” approach to improving criminal justice. The primary goals are to reduce costs and instances of repeat offenders and to improve public safety.

North Dakota Studies Overhaul of Crowded Correctional System

North Dakota’s correctional system is over capacity and inmate populations are increasing at some of the fastest rates in the nation – and it’s only projected to get worse if nothing is done, consultants told top state officials Tuesday.

State Launches Review of Criminal Justice System

State officials say they are launching a months-long review of the criminal justice system with the intent of rolling out proposed legislation they say could lead to cost reductions as well as fewer repeat offenders.

Justice Reinvestment Aims to Help Jail Overcrowding in ND

Just as there can be a silver lining in any cloud, there can also be a downside to otherwise good news. The oil boom brought a great amount of economic prosperity to North Dakota and a population increase. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only things.

North Dakota Studies Overhaul of Crowded Correctional System

North Dakota’s correctional system is over capacity and inmate populations are increasing at some of the fastest rates in the nation—and it’s only projected to get worse if nothing is done, consultants told top state officials Tuesday.

After Incarceration, What Next?

For those freed from prison or jail, getting out is just the first step. What comes next can be a daunting reentry process fraught with built-in obstacles to employment and family reunification. If criminal justice reforms are to work, experts say, they must be accompanied with policy changes that remove institutional barriers to reentry that stigmatize prisoners once they are released.

Two in Five Leave Mass. Prisons Unsupervised, Review Says

Two in five people released from prison in Massachusetts return to the community without the supervision of a probation or parole officer, according to a review of the state’s criminal justice system released by the nonpartisan Council on State Governments Tuesday.

Tillis Pushing Criminal Justice Reforms Modeled on North Carolina Law

The bipartisan federal Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act includes several concepts that were inspired by North Carolina’s criminal justice reforms. It would reduce prison sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenders while increasing prison terms for violent criminals and adding two new mandatory minimum sentences. The legislation also seeks to reduce the number of repeat offenders by expanding education, job training, drug rehabilitation, and faith-based programs.

Corrections Reform Isn’t Just about Cutting Prison Populations

In Rhode Island, a state with strong corrections leadership and a commitment to non-incarcerative sentencing, much of the explanation for high supervision rates relates to the length of probation terms. A recent analysis by The Council of State Governments Justice Center found that individuals leaving a correctional institution in that state are placed on probation terms lasting six years, three times the national average.

Franklin County Looks at Mental Illness in Jail

Franklin County Commissioners have joined a national effort to reduce the number of people with mental illness who are in jail. By joining the Stepping Up Initiative, commissioners hope to be in a position to qualify for potential grants and conferences.

Editorial: Probation Challenge

A working group set up by Gov. Gina Raimondo is grappling with recommendations for improving Rhode Island’s probation and parole system. The recommendations, provided this fall by The Council of State Governments Justice Center, include some promising strategies for cutting the number of offenders who return to prison—and saving taxpayers money in the bargain.

Nebraska Legislature Will Consider Prison System Issues, Including $26 Million Prison Expansion, When It Gets Back to Work

Overcrowding remains a problem for Nebraska prisons, which now hold about 1,900 more inmates than their design capacity. And sentencing changes enacted by lawmakers in 2015 to relieve overcrowding have been used in only a handful of cases since the new law took effect in September. It’s too early to tell how effective Legislative Bill 605, the “justice reinvestment” bill, will be, said Hastings Sen. Les Seiler, who heads the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

Criminal Justice Reform in 2015: Year End Review

Huffington Post Criminal justice reform continued to build momentum this year within the inner sanctum of the Beltway and across the nation in a handful of states. It emerged as a significant issue in the presidential campaign, and looks likely […]

The Need for a Helping Hand

Portland Tribune By Peter Korn Robert Lyday never even made it past the sidewalk in front of the Old Town Greyhound bus station. He’d been released from the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem with a bus ticket to Portland. He […]

New Initiative Offers New Options for Mentally Ill Prisoners

There is an effort in Kent County to find new treatment options for mentally ill prisoners in the Kent County jail system. The Kent County Board of Commissioners teamed up with the Community Mental Health Authority Board in a national initiative called, Stepping Up.

Koch Brothers, White House Seize Momentum on Criminal Justice Reform

Mike Thompson, director at The Council of State Governments Justice Center, said the issue has seen more momentum than the issue has received in decades. “This is one of those rare times we do really see that bipartisan consensus, and you’re (also) seeing that play out in states across the country,” Thompson said.

Mental Health Courts Are Popular But Effectiveness Is Still Unproven

Mental health courts are popular in many communities, and it’s easy to understand why. But research is still scanty on the courts’ effectiveness at addressing offenders’ mental health problems or discouraging offenders from relapsing into criminal behavior.

Diverse Group to Propose Changing Rhode Island’s Criminal Justice System

In recent years, many of the ways the state’s criminal justice system deals with probation, mental health and addiction issues have been criticized, and left unchanged. But 2016 could be different, with a high-profile study group appointed by Governor Raimondo preparing to recommend a series of policy and law changes.

Parish ‘Stepping Up’ with Program that Helps Mentally Ill behind Bars

The Police Jury adopted a resolution recently approving the submittal of an application to the U.S. Justice Department to take part in the Stepping Up Initiative. The program, which began in May, is led by the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.

People of Color Sent to Prison, Put on Probation Far More Than Whites

Blacks account for 5 percent of Rhode Island’s general population, but they make up 30.6 percent of the people in the prisons of the Adult Correctional Institutions, and 20.2 percent of people on probation or parole. For Latinos, the disparities are less; with 12 percent of the general population, they account for 23 percent in prison and 21 percent on probation or parole.

Opinion: To Reduce Prison Growth, Remember Texas

The Council of State Governments Justice Center’s Andy Barbee told the task force that Arkansas’s spending on corrections has ballooned from $300 million in 2004 to $512 million in 2015. At that rate, Arkansas will have 25,448 inmates by 2025 and will need to spend $680 million to house the excess, or it could also spend $602 million to build more prisons.

States Need to Try New Ideas with Young Adults in Justice System: Report

Specifically, the report recommends states tailor supervision and services to young adults; examine barriers to a comprehensive safety net of education, employment and health services; improve data collection and reporting on young adults; and support implementing and evaluating new programs.

Opinion: Criminal Justice Reform Must Include Civil Legal Assistance

Civil legal assistance is necessary to help avoid the stigma associated with having a criminal record, which can be devastating to people trying to rebuild their lives after a period of incarceration; it’s well known that having a criminal record is a serious obstacle to employment.

Arkansas Governor Seeks Sentencing Fixes

Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently called for more “teeth” in the state’s criminal sentencing guidelines and corrective action to reduce disparity in jail time ordered for the same crime.

Rhode Island Prison Study Group Debates Changes in Probation

As they near the deadline to submit a list of legislative proposals to the governor, members of a 27-person study group assigned to examine the state’s probation system found they agreed on the big-picture goals, but needed to work on the details.

Group Trying to Help Arkansas Curb Prison Growth, Looking at Texas Model

The state of Arkansas will be working with The Council of State Governments Justice Center to try to reverse the growth of the nation’s fastest rising prison population from 2012-14. Andy Barbee, research manager, told the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force his organization will make Arkansas the 23rd state it has served through its Justice Reinvestment project. After studying criminal justice data, the CSG Justice Center will report its recommendations to the task force in late summer or early fall next year.

Hutchinson: Sentencing ‘Out of Whack’ in Arkansas

Andy Barbee, research manager for The Council of State Governments Justice Center, told the panel that according to projections, Arkansas’ prison population could reach 25,448, a 35 percent increase, by 2025.

Editorial: Massachusetts Should Raise Felony Theft Threshold

If you steal a $400 iPhone in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, or Rhode Island, you’re guilty of petty theft, a misdemeanor punishable by not more than one year in jail. But if you steal that same iPhone in Massachusetts, you’re guilty of grand larceny—a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. Why is Massachusetts so much stricter? It is because the state’s lawmakers haven’t gotten around to updating the felony theft threshold since 1987, when the legislature raised it from $100 to $250.

Returning to a Real Home: Former Inmates Get Second Chance in Public Housing

As US lawmakers grapple with reform to mass incarceration, they are also facing the challenge of improving the integration of former inmates, whose records become a barrier to entry in housing and employment, and who are often unprepared for the challenge of transitioning to life outside of prison.

DAs: Justice Focus Should Be on Recidivism

While activists and some lawmakers are advocating for criminal justice reforms aimed in part at reducing the number of people incarcerated, seven of the state’s district attorneys pushed back on Wednesday with a call to shift the focus.

Increasing Prison Numbers Prompt Montana to Review Criminal Justice System

“Despite our state’s falling crime rates, Montana’s prison population continues to grow and our correctional facilities are over capacity,” Gov. Steve Bullock said during a press event to launch the Justice Reinvestment Initiative led by the Commission on Sentencing. “If we continue on the path we’re on now, we will be faced with a prison population that continues to increase along with increased state spending.”

Idaho Prison Reforms Could ‘Overhaul System’

“An assessment of our programs found that in nine out of 12 of our programs—including our sex offender program, substance abuse program and cognitive behavior program—they did not have a sufficient amount of evidence that they work,” said Kevin Kempf, director of the Idaho Department of Correction.

Montana Begins Review of Criminal Justice System, Seeks Cuts

“A thorough examination of our criminal justice system is long overdue,” Gov. Steve Bullock said recently. “We must determine what is driving the growth in our prison population. We’re at a pivotal moment as our prison population nears capacity, and we must take a proactive and collaborative approach to establishing a more effective system that bolsters public safety.”

Montana Launches Bipartisan Effort to Review Criminal Justice System

Governor Steve Bullock joined District Judge Ingrid Gustafson and leaders from both parties on Wednesday to launch a comprehensive examination of the state’s criminal justice system as Montana faces a growing prison population and costly projections to expand capacity.

Montana State Leaders to Tackle Justice Reinvestment

Governor Steve Bullock will join District Judge Ingrid Gustafson and leaders from both parties to launch a comprehensive study of the state’s criminal justice system as Montana faces a growing prison population and costly projections to expand capacity.

Leader Spotlight: Dr. Tony Fabelo

Dr. Tony Fabelo is the Director of the Research Division of The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and is helping provide the momentum needed to make necessary changes in the justice system for individuals with mental illness. Working from the Austin office of the CSG Justice Center, he provides technical assistance to state and local governments to help make more efficient use of state and local taxpayer dollars.

Editorial: Correcting Montana’s Corrections System

Montana can’t afford to keep locking up more people, and having them come back into the corrections system again and again. For public safety and taxpayer relief, the Commission on Sentencing needs to point us toward better policies.

Expert: Rhode Island’s Outdated Probation System Needs Overhaul

Rhode Island has a probation system that seems to be running on autopilot, with prison sentences governed by outdated laws and a bureaucracy using outdated technology that wastes staffers’ time and state resources, a commission studying the probation system was told recently.

Video of Student Arrest in South Carolina Puts Focus on School Officers

Videos of a classroom arrest that quickly went viral have put a spotlight on the proliferation of armed, uniformed officers in schools. The officers, often known as school resource officers, have become commonplace around the country, with tens of thousands of them deployed in elementary to high schools.

Rhode Island Officials Call for More Mental Health Resources

Any serious effort to reorganize the state’s criminal justice system requires an examination of its mental health system, a group of mental health and justice officials told a committee charged with coming up with just that kind of reorganiz

Mental Health and Safe Communities Act Introduced in the U.S.House

The Mental Health and Safe Communities Act strengthens federal programs related to mental health in the criminal justice system by: improving the background check system; enhancing the ability of families and communities to identify mental illness; improving treatment for mental illness; and strengthening responses to mental health crises.

Parole Reforms Promise Prison Cost Savings

Michigan lawmakers have taken up parole reforms in an effort to save money operating the state’s prison system. The bill in the House shifts the presumption of eligibility so that parole boards would be required to prove that a prisoner must not be released. Parole boards would have to present compelling reasons to keep housing and feeding inmates beyond their earliest release dates.

State Needs New Prison, Sheriff Tells Task Force

Despite continuing efforts to reduce overcrowding, Arkansas needs to build a new prison, a sheriff told a legislative task force Wednesday. The Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force also heard presentations from The Council of State Governments Justice Center and a Fort Smith company that uses smartphones to monitor people under house arrest.

Violent Crimes Drop Nearly 10 Percent in Connecticut in 2014

Violent crime in Connecticut dropped nearly 10 percent in 2014 over the previous year, among the largest decreases in the country and one that followed a 10 percent decline in the state in 2013, according to new data on reported crime released Monday by the FBI.

Senate Looks at Diversion Programs After Bland Death

“It seems that there was an issue with the follow-through on the initial assessment,” said Dr. Tony Fabelo, director of research for the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Fabelo led off testimony before the first hearing of the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice into ways to prevent future jail suicides.

Idaho Prisons Halt Treatment Program That Was Leading to More Recidivism

Idaho state prisons chief Kevin Kempf has immediately halted all “therapeutic community” programs in Idaho prisons, after an assessment by the Council of State Governments Justice Center found that offenders who go through the programs actually are slightly more likely to re-offend, the AP reports. Inmates who are in therapeutic communities have a 28 percent recidivism rate, compared to a rate of 23 percent for other inmates.

Idaho to Revamp Prison Treatment Programs

Idaho is eliminating one prison treatment program and will be revamping several others after an in-depth assessment showed that some were ineffective and many relied on outdated research. Idaho Department of Correction Director Kevin Kempf announced that all prison “therapeutic community” programs would be halted immediately, and that a team of employees would start looking for replacements for other treatment programs.

Analyst Tells Raimondo Panel Probation Excessive in R.I.

For years, critics of the state’s probation system have complained that probation sentences in Rhode Island last years longer than in other states, that state law makes it easy to put a probationer back in jail and that there is no way for those who behave to reduce their sentences.

Analyst Tells Raimondo Panel Probation Excessive in Rhode Island

For years, critics of the state’s probation system have complained that probation sentences in Rhode Island last years longer than in other states, that state law makes it easy to put a probationer back in jail and that there is no way for those who behave to reduce their sentences.

National Experts Helping Montana Consider Ways to Reduce Prison, Jail Populations

With Montana’s prison system and jails at 109 percent of capacity and growing, a state commission is taking a hard look at how to reduce that trend–and it’s getting some big-league help. A group of national experts, funded by a private foundation and the federal government, will be crunching the data to analyze what’s behind Montana’s inmate population growth and recommend some potential policy changes.

Utahns Say Mentally Ill Inmates Need Treatment, Not More Jail Time

Salt Lake County just completed a year-long study of people who flow through the criminal justice system–including the county jail. The study found that mentally ill inmates are not consistently getting the treatment they need and are spending too much time in jail waiting for such help. The study also found that the mentally ill are more likely to return to jail.

Heavy Load at Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institutions Intake Center

If Rhode Island wants a criminal justice system that reduces the number of repeat offenders and operates more efficiently, it will have to do a better job of assessing why the people it arrests are getting into trouble and find better ways of getting them into programs that will change that behavior.

The Pay-for-Performance Approach to Reducing Recidivism

Pennsylvania’s initial success in dealing with recidivism is solid evidence that performance contracts are more likely to succeed than traditional privatization contracts because they focus both government officials and contractors on outcomes.

County Is Ready, but Is It Able, to Deal with Mentally Ill?

“We’ve known for some time that we needed better data on where the gaps are in how we identify, assess, track and treat those folks [i.e., the mentally ill] who wind up in jail as the facility of last resort,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. “This study confirms that we’re on the right path but that there’s more to do.”

Analysis Finds Higher Expulsion Rates for Black Students

With the Obama administration focused on reducing the number of suspensions, expulsions and arrests in public schools, a new analysis of federal data identifies districts in 13 Southern states where black students are suspended or expelled at rates overwhelmingly higher than white children.

Justice Reinvestment National Summit Highlights

Policy makers, experts, and other key decision-makers from more than 30 states met to discuss the past, present, and future of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI).

Miami’s Model for Decriminalizing Mental Illness in America

Miami-Dade County has long had a more acute problem than most. By one estimate, more than 9 percent of Miami residents suffer from a mental illness–a rate that is approximately three times higher than the national average. Yet over the course of the past decade, Miami-Dade County has emerged as a national model for how a county can develop strategies to combat the criminalization of mental illness.

Massachusetts Seeks Help in Cutting Recidivism Rates

Top Massachusetts leaders are requesting an independent examination of the state’s criminal justice system with an eye toward lowering recidivism rates and reducing, in turn, the state’s prison population.

How Overcrowding Has Forced Alabama to Confront Its Prison Problem

Alabama is reforming its criminal justice system because a complex web of interconnected problems left it near implosion—a mess of spent money, wasted lives and broken families. As Alabama becomes the latest conservative state of the Deep South to reform its criminal justice system, the challenge, state leaders and outside experts say, may be the greatest yet.

Edward Fitzpatrick: High Time to Address Rhode Island’s Probation Inflation

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.

Evaluation Trumps Incarceration in L.A. Police Dept. Mental Health Efforts

“The LAPD has a multilayered approach, which is necessary for a more comprehensive response to connect individuals with mental illness to the most appropriate services needed,” said Nicola Smith-Kea, policy analyst for the Law Enforcement Program of the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Educators Gather at the White House to Rethink School Discipline

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice recently hosted teams of superintendents, principals, and teachers from across the country for “Rethink Discipline,” a day-long conference at the White House on creating positive school climates and implementing effective discipline practices.

Dare County Gets Behind National Mental Health Initiative

Joining a growing effort to tackle what one official calls “a national crisis,” the Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution on July 20 to reduce the number of inmates with mental illness in the county jail. The board’s action came only days after North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s July 14 announcement that he was creating the North Carolina Mental Health and Substance Use Task Force in support of the national “Stepping Up” initiative on mental illness and incarceration.

Rhode Island to Review Prison, Parole, Probation Systems

The announcement will the mark the launch of a months-long effort by the Council of State Governments Justice Center to help Rhode Island policymakers identify potential new ways “to reduce corrections spending and reinvest savings in strategies that can reduce recidivism and increase public safety.”

In Los Angeles, a National Model for How to Police the Mentally Ill

By partnering beat cops with mental health clinicians, the L.A. Police Department’s Mental Evaluation Unit reined in costs associated with frivolous 911 calls. It also connected thousands of individuals with counseling and support, reducing incidences of force used on individuals with mental illness and alleviating the burden on overcrowded emergency rooms and the criminal justice system.

Pennsylvania Corrections Department to Receive Recognition

“This award adds to the national recognition our agency already has received for implementing performance-based contracts with privately operated halfway house providers in order to incentivize recidivism reduction,” Acting Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said.

Newt Gingrich and Van Jones: Mental Illness Is No Crime

A new initiative, “Stepping Up,” unites state and local governments and the American Psychiatric Foundation to promote research-based practices to tackle our overreliance on jail as mental health treatment, such as in-jail counseling programs that reduce the chances of repeat offenders.

New Efforts To Keep The Mentally Ill Out Of Jail

Earlier this month, a coalition including the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the American Psychiatric Foundation and the National Association of Counties kicked off a national campaign to encourage local jurisdictions to collect data on the jailed mentally ill and adopt strategies to avoid incarceration.

Study: Mentally Ill Inmates Stay Longer in Central Ohio Jail

Mentally-ill inmates at central Ohio’s biggest jail stay longer, return more frequently and often aren’t connected with the treatment they need after they leave, according to a new report. The Council of State Governments Justice Center provided the report to county commissioners following a yearlong look at the mentally ill in the Franklin County jail.

Nebraska Legislature Grapples with Prison Reform Bills in Floor Debates

LB 605, introduced by Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, advanced. The bill’s stated intent is “to slow Nebraska’s prison population growth, ease prison overcrowding, contain corrections spending, and reinvest a portion of savings in strategies that can reduce recidivism and increase public safety.”

OCSD Joins Initiative to Help Fight Mental Illnesses in U.S. Jails

Leading criminal justice and mental health organizations are joining together in supporting The Stepping Up Initiative, an unprecedented national collaboration designed to generate action in communities across the country toward a common goal: reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in U.S. jails.

Miami-Dade Joins Program to Stop Jailing Mentally Ill

The Stepping Up Initiative, a partnership between the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation, was rolled out Wednesday in Miami as well as the District of Columbia; Sacramento, California; and Johnson County, Kansas.

Counties Examine Police Training in Encounters with Mentally Ill

At a time when excessive use of force by police is taking center stage in the national conversation, another concern is gaining traction: how to train officers to recognize and interact with people who have a mental illness, and how to divert people with medical needs from jails to places where they can receive treatment.

Breaking the Mental Health Pipeline to Jail

A national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails was launched this week in a partnership between the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation. The initiative is aimed at bringing together many of the best practices underway to develop models that can be emulated by local governments and law enforcement, said Gerard Murphy, deputy director of the CSG’s National Initiatives program, told the group meeting at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Johnson County Kicks Off National Effort to Help Mentally Ill

The initiative calls on local governments to look at their existing resources for the mentally ill and develop policies that could reduce incarceration. The effort will conclude with a national summit next year, with the possibility of federal and private grants for selected areas.

Apache Junction Police Department Hosts Mental Health Training

From April 13th to April 17th the Apache Junction Police Department (AJPD) in coordination with U.S Department of Justice (DOJ/Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Council of State Government Justice Center (CSGJC) and the Houston Texas Police Department’s (HPD) Mental Health Division hosted a course on Mental Health for Police Officers and First Responders.

America’s Incarcerated

Today the United States has more people in prison than any other country in the world—more than 2 million Americans. A disproportionate number of them are African Americans. Correspondent Tim O’Brien asks criminal justice reformer Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, about the social and economic costs of extreme punishments, lengthy sentences, and “a history of racial inequality and injustice that has left us vulnerable to presuming guilt and dangerousness when minority people interact with the criminal justice system.”

Sen. Franken, Rep. Doug Collins Introduce Bipartisan Measure to Combat Mental Health Crisis in Criminal Justice System

Senator Al Franken (MN) and Congressman Doug Collins (GA09) recently introduced the bicameral, bipartisan Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, a bill that aims to improve the ability of local and state governments, as well as law enforcement, to address the unique needs of mentally ill offenders, before and after they enter the criminal justice system. Their legislation reauthorizes, improves and expands the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act.

The Social Worker in the Cop Car

At the Houston Police Department, a licensed clinical social worker or caseworker rides along when police answer an emergency call regarding a person presumed to be mentally ill. Some 30 of those ride-along professionals now work out of that department’s relatively new Mental Health Division.

San Antonio, Where Policing the Mentally Ill Means Treating Them

The San Antonio police’s strategy for responding to calls involving people who are mentally ill is being hailed as a national model amid rising anger over police brutality toward and high incarceration rates of people with mental health issues.

Zeroing Out Zero Tolerance

Large cities, including New York and Los Angeles, are at the vanguard of a shift away from zero-tolerance school discipline toward less punitive strategies that emphasize talking it out and resolving disputes among students to keep them in school.

Poll: Texans Strongly Support Criminal Justice Reforms

According to this study by the Council of State Government’s Justice Center, from 2007 to 2012, the number of juveniles detained in Texas state facilities dropped from around 4,305 to about 1,500, a decrease of 66 percent, while the juvenile crime rate fell by a third.

Police and the Mentally Ill: LAPD Unit Praised as Model for Nation

They’re setting a great example for other departments to emulate,” says Jerry Murphy, a criminal justice mental health policy specialist at the Council of State Governments Justice Center. In 2010, that nonprofit organization designated the LAPD one of six national training sites for specialized mental health policing.

Kansas Lawmakers Consider Changes to the Juvenile Justice System

Josh Weber, program director for juvenile justice at the Council of State Governments Justice Center, said in his report that Kansas does not have statewide criteria to help judges and court service officers determine the most appropriate level of supervision is for youth offenders, which might result in inefficient placement within those levels.

Report Outlines Flaws in Kansas’ Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system in Kansas functions inadequately due to a tangled organizational structure, inappropriate assignment of youths to detention facilities, poor use of mental health and substance abuse evaluations and over reliance on lengthy periods of incarceration, a consultant’s report said Wednesday.

Study Shows Community-Based Supervision Helps Juveniles

A study comparing Texas youth with nearly identical characteristics shows that juveniles under community-based supervision are far less likely to reoffend than those incarcerated in state correctional facilities, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, in partnership with Texas A&M University, announced in late January.

Council of State Governments Creates Pathways to Prosperity

The attitude of employers is often the biggest obstacle to employment for those with criminal records. It’s almost like hitting the proverbial brick wall.

But the Council of State Governments is out to change those entrenched attitudes. This nonprofit organization works with local, state and federal policymakers to strengthen communities and increase public safety and has created the Pathways to Prosperity initiative.

Bill Takes Stab at Prison Reform

MONTGOMERY — Looking to solve the crowding problem in Alabama’s prison system, state Sen. Cam Ward has a 112-page draft of a bill on his desk that he says would significantly reduce the number of inmates.

Beginning Prison Reform

Last week, Nebraska’s new corrections department director made a key decision regarding our state’s prison system. Less than two weeks after taking office, Scott Frakes’ message is clear: Nebraska’s corrections department is headed in a new direction.

NY Times Editorial: The Texas Way on Juvenile Justice

A new report, released last week by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, shows that young people were once reflexively sent to state facilities out of habit, not because they were threats to public safety.

Study: Texas Juvenile Justice Reforms Having Positive Effect

A new nonpartisan study released on Thursday revealed positive effects from juvenile justice reforms passed in Texas during recent years, with the state showing a significant drop in the juvenile incarceration rate while the juvenile crime rate also fell during the same time period.

School Resource Officers: Safety Priority or Part of the Problem?

In theory, so-called school resource officers are supposed to foster exactly what many civil rights groups are campaigning for: better relations between law enforcement and citizens, particularly minorities and lower-income families. In practice, some say, they are worsening the situation, facilitating the “school-to-prison pipeline” rather than curbing it.

Texas Sees Drop in Juvenile Arrests Amid Reforms

A new study released Thursday found the Texas juvenile justice system’s shift from incarcerating youths in state prisons to local and community juvenile detention centers corresponds with the drop in crime committed by young people.

Study Touts Community Programs for Juvenile Offenders

Juveniles in Texas who break the law are less likely to reoffend if they’re placed in community supervision programs instead of state facilities, according to a report released Thursday by criminal justice researchers.

Texas Juvenile Justice Reformers Take A Victory Lap

Since a 2007 sex abuse scandal at a state-run youth lockup in West Texas, state lawmakers have entirely remade Texas’ juvenile justice system, shuttering many of the state’s prison-like juvenile facilities and keeping many more kids under supervision close to home.

Youth Crime Falls After Juvenile Jail Rates Cut

A new study concludes that the Texas juvenile justice system’s shift away from housing youths in state-run detention facilities has coincided with a sharp drop in crime committed by young people.

Study: Texas Cut Juvenile Jail Rates, Saw Youth Crime Fall

A sweeping nonpartisan study released Thursday suggests Texas can be a model for improving juvenile justice systems nationwide, concluding that the state’s dramatic shift away from sending youths to detention facilities has coincided with a sharp drop in crime committed by young people.

Prison Reform Report: New Policies Could Help Crowding

If Alabama wants to get its prison crisis under control, it should begin moving nonviolent offenders into alternative sentencing programs; divert the least serious felony offenders into those programs; ensure supervision is a mandatory component of sentences and make new investments in staffing at the Board of Pardons and Parole.

Prison Reform Group Looks for Solutions

A prison reform group on Thursday suggested creating a new felony class for the least serious property and drug crimes as one of the solutions for Alabama’s chronically overcrowded prisons

Op-Ed: 10 Lessons for Juvenile Justice Field from Texas Study

The report, “Closer to Home: An Analysis of the State and Local Impact of the Texas Juvenile Justice Reforms,” not only has great value in the Lone Star State, it also delivers important lessons for the juvenile justice field in communities across the U.S.

Politico: Closer to Home

Texas youth in state correctional facilities are 21 percent more likely to be rearrested after they’re released than juveniles sentenced to community-based supervision closer to home.

Dallas County Leads Progress in Juvenile Justice

Eight years after Texas officials overhauled the state’s juvenile justice system following a sex scandal, the fight against juvenile crime is being waged mostly at the local level — and Dallas County is leading the charge.

Advocate Says Texas Study Shows Youth Prisons “Model Destined To Fail”

A sweeping nonpartisan study released Thursday suggests Texas can be a model for improving juvenile justice systems nationwide, concluding that the state’s dramatic shift away from sending youths to detention facilities has coincided with a sharp drop in crime committed by young people.

The Columbian: Get Smart On Crime

Despite a prison population in Washington State that is overcapacity, statistics from the FBI indicate that the state has the nation’s highest rate of property crimes such as burglary and auto theft.

Is Texas About to Abandon Its Juvenile Justice System

Following a series of high-profile physical and sexual-abuse scandals that rocked the state’s juvenile system in 2007, a string of reforms modernized local punitive measures against offending young people. The state has dramatically reduced both the number of juvenile lock-up facilities and the number of kids serving time inside them.

A Smarter Handle on Property Crimes

Typically, tougher enforcement of the law to deter crime adds a burden to taxpayers, who must pay more for police officers and prison beds.

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2015/01/20/3529535_time-for-a-smarter-handle-on-property.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Prison Reform: Cautious Optimism From Lawmakers

Gov. Robert Bentley and legislative leaders said last week that efforts to address the massive overcrowding in state prisons will be at the top of their agenda when the regular session begins in March.

Inslee Has New Plan to Reduce Property Crime

Gov. Jay Inslee has unveiled his plan to reduce the state’s sky-high property crime rate (a problem present in Spokane) that’s based on the idea that repeat offenders should receive supervision and treatment.

Editorial, 1/16: Pay Heed to Prison Report

The policy options for reducing prison overcrowding suggested in the Nebraska Justice Reinvestment Project are backed by data and grounded in common sense.

Justice Reform Efforts Result in Declining State Prison Population

Four years ago, Pennsylvania’s state prison population was expected to top more than 56,000 inmates by the end of 2014. Instead, Governor Tom Corbett announced today, the agency ended the calendar year with 50,756 inmates – the lowest inmate population since June 2009.

National Thought Leaders to Pilot Prisoner Reentry Project in Milwaukee

Milwaukee has been selected from a national pool of 25 applicants to serve as a testing ground for a pilot project aiming to better aid former prisoners with workforce reentry. The Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies Pilot Project is being spearheaded by the National Reentry Resource Center, an initiative of the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

OUR VIEW: Pursuing Prison Reform

Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, for once appear unified on something — fixing Alabama’s prison system before it implodes under its own weight.

Alabama Prison Task Force to Weigh Options

Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), the lawmaker who heads the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force, said he wants members to look at a “buffet” of proposals in January and hopefully have a bill ready in February.

Solutions to Woes of Mentally Ill Exist but Aren’t Used

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, neglect of Americans with serious mental illness costs the nation $444 billion a year — mostly from lost earnings — and consigns millions to lives of suffering, addiction, homelessness or incarceration.

NACo, CSG Target Mental Health in Jail

The effort, dubbed “Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails,” follows the rise in the number of people with mental disorders booked into local jails, now estimated to top two million annually.

More Supervision, Less Prison Time Sought for Low-Level Criminals

Lower-level ex-convicts in Washington State are more likely than more serious offenders to be arrested and re-imprisoned, and their histories saddle them with longer sentences that are more likely to send them to state prisons rather than local jails and to keep them there longer.

Proposal Averts Almost $300 Million in Corrections Spending

A proposal to require supervision for individuals after completing prison sentence, address the needs of crime victims and tackle the revolving door to state prisons was released today by the Justice Reinvestment Working Group.

Opinion: Michigan Must Get Smarter about Prison Sentencing

As the cost of crime and punishment continues to rise, it’s time for Michigan to take a hard look at the rate of return on Department of Corrections spending and decide whether it’s wise to keep those dollars locked up behind bars.

Justice Reform Again on State Officials Radar

With a pending prison population report that is expected to show the state system is well over capacity, recent talks between the Governor’s Office and a national nonprofit have some advocates wondering: Is 2015 the year for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma?

Crime Reform Bills Deserve Full Debate

Michigan lawmakers are reviewing intriguing legislation focused on revamping local parole and probation systems so that those who commit minor crimes can be rehabilitated before they are convicted of an offense that sends them to prison.

Is Slamming the Jail Door Shut Mental Health Treatment? No Says Rep. Patrick Kennedy

This month, mental health and correctional professionals from all over the nation gathered in Chicago to address a problem that many are not aware of. People denied mental health services who end up homeless or incarcerated as criminals. The conference, called “The Cost of Doing Nothing,” sponsored by the Kennedy Forum was held at Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton.

Bipartisan Success Possible

Given the partisan rancor in the past couple of General Assembly sessions, it may be hard to remember that North Carolina’s elected leaders do know how to forge bipartisan solutions.

Bipartisan NC Justice Overhaul Keeps Good Marks

In an era of hyper-partisanship with elected officials worried about being accused as weak on crime, lawmakers got reminded of what looks like on its face a bipartisan success story on criminal justice issues.

Is There a Different Way to Keep Michiganders Safe?

The Michigan Department of Corrections soaks up the largest chunk of the state’s general fund budget, spending about $2 billion of the state’s $10-billion general fund to house and supervise nearly 50,000 inmates.

Gingrich: Overhaul Michigan’s Criminal Justice System

Incarceration has become the norm despite clear evidence that many nonviolent offenders can be held accountable and supervised more effectively through alternatives such as drug courts and job reporting centers.

Will Grown-Ups Prevail in Michigan’s Lame-Duck?

The reforms Haveman is touting would give all but the most serious offenders a presumptive parole date, bolster supervision of offenders living outside Michigan’s jails and prisons, and bring swifter but less severe penalties for non-criminal probation and parole violations.

Taking Care Of Business Episode 4: Justice Reform in Alabama 2

Billy Canary, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, follows up with Andrew Barbee from the Council of State Governments Justice Center and State Senator Cam Ward of Alabaster about Justice reform in Alabama and specifically “Project Justice Reinvestment”.

Fix for Nebraska Prison Overcrowding

A long-awaited consultant’s report says Nebraska needs to expand three prison facilities, adding more than 1,100 beds, to handle chronic overcrowding.

Lack of Community Supervision Leads to High Recidivism

Community supervision for offenders is one of three areas the Council of State Governments Justice Center is looking at with a panel of criminal justice stakeholders in Alabama, the Prison Reform Task Force

Opinion: Sheriffs, Victims Unite for Justice Reinvestment

While there is no one-size-fits-all model, justice reinvestment is designed to hold offenders accountable, control taxpayer costs, and keep communities safe – goals that sheriffs and victims heartily endorse.

This American Life: Is This Working?

In the latest installment of National Public Radio’s “This American Life,” CSG Justice Center Director Michael Thompson discusses school discipline in the United States.

Guidelines Aimed at Slowing Growth of Inmate Count

Officials studying ways to reduce Alabama prison overcrowding and inmate recidivism say new sentencing guidelines that were implemented in 2013 are expected to stabilize and slow the growth of the state’s prison population.

Sentenced Reform Has Slowed, Not Stopped, Inmate Growth

A 24-member panel — the Prison Reform Task Force — is working with the Council of State Governments Justice Center to analyze the system and find ways to reduce overcrowding, reduce recidivism and improve public safety.

The Role of Medicaid in Successful Reentry

Since 1997, states have been able to bill for Medicaid-enrolled inmates who leave prisons or jails longer than 24 hours for health treatment in a hospital or nursing facility.

Fewer Inmates in Alabama are Being Released Early

Data analyzed by the Council of State Governments Justice Center shows that Minshew is part of a growing number of inmates who are denied parole in Alabama every year. For inmates, it means fewer releases and longer stays. For prisons, it means a population that continues to grow.

All Easy Prison options Are Gone

If anything is clear from the research presented at the meeting of the Alabama Prison Reform Task Force last week, it is that there is no easy or inexpensive way of dealing with the state’s crushing prison overcrowding problem.

Alabama Arrests Down but Prison Crowding Remains

A group studying overcrowding in Alabama’s prisons has found that arrests are declining and sentences are getting shorter. But Alabama’s prisons remain at nearly double their designed capacity.

Fattah Announces $2.5 Million in Crime Prevention Funding to Philadelphia

Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02), the lead Democrat on the House Subcommittee responsible for Department of Justice (DOJ) funding, has announced that the agency has awarded $1,834,486 in Byrne JAG funding to support anti-crime initiatives in the City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia was also awarded $746,298 in Second Chance Act funding from the Justice Department.

Research Will Shed Light on Alabama’s Prison Problem

Alabama was one of a handful of states chosen earlier this year by the nonprofit Council of State Governments Justice Center for a program that will provide a comprehensive study of the justice system and recommendations for reform.

Ward: State Must “Tackle Drug Epidemic” to Fight Prison Overcrowding

The Council of State Governments Justice Center gathered state and local leaders from across the nation―including respected legislators, court and law enforcement officials and cabinet secretaries―to discuss complex criminal justice policies at its annual Board of Directors meeting during the week of Sept. 17 in Memphis, Tenn.

Editorial: Give Second Chance Act Another Chance

South Carolina has made big strides in reducing recidivism among prison inmates, and some of the credit is due the state’s use of training funds under the Second Chance Act.

Utah’s Mental Health Crisis Intervention Training is National Model for Patrol and Detention

The first Utah CIT academy was conducted in 2001. Academies are administered throughout the State of Utah on a regional basis. Within each region, law enforcement services are partnered with mental health services to deliver the program. The program works to build relationships between law enforcement and local mental health providers so that together they can bring services to individuals with mental illness.

Justice Reform in Alabama

A discussion with Sen. Cam Ward and Andrew Barbee from the Council of State Governments Justice Center about justice reform in Alabama.

Editorial: Correcting Corrections

As if school funding and mental health care didn’t generate enough concerns for next year’s legislature, now there are dire reports about Washington’s prison system.

Many Ways of Measuring Recidivism, Causing Uneven Impact on Policy

The Council of State Governments Justice Center recently released a report called “Measuring and Using Recidivism Data to Inform Policy, Practice, and Resource Allocation,” which explores the use of recidivism data and other metrics to evaluate success in juvenile justice.

In Michigan, Justice is Out of Whack

As an unabashed conservative and a person of faith, I find my answers to questions of crime and punishment to be less than dogmatic.

Washington State Justice System Review

Marshall Clement, director of State Initiatives for the CSG Justice Center, speaks to ABC News affiliate KONA Radio about the problems facing the state prison system in Washington.

Fewer S.C. Convicts Returning to Prison, Study Finds

A study released this summer noted an 18 percent drop in recidivism in the Palmetto State, a decline surpassed only by North Carolina among the eight states involved in the review, according to the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the National Re-entry Resource Center.

Report Gives Options to Ease Prison Population

Nebraska could significantly reduce prison overcrowding by sentencing more nonviolent felons to probation instead of prison and by finding alternatives to incarceration for inmates serving sentences of less than a year.

Many Reasons Cited for Bulging Nebraska Prisons

Marc Pelka, the program director for the Justice Reinvestment Program, which is a project of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, cited several of the reasons for the prison population increase, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Legislators Updated on Justice Reinvestment in West Virginia

With the prison populations rising and an estimated $200 million slated for construction and $83 million for operations projected for 2014-2018 to account for the increase, the state partnered with the Council of State Governments Justice Center to research options to reduce that spending and increase public safety.

W.Va. Inmate Decrease Pleases Corrections Chief

West Virginia Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein told legislators Monday he’s pleasantly surprised by the decrease in the state inmate population in the first year of the state’s Justice Reinvestment Act.

Survey: 70 Percent of Jail Inmates Are Mentally Ill

Standard Examiner By Cathy Mckitrick A staggering percentage of individuals held in county jails around the United States suffer from mental illness and substance use disorders. This trend is pushing law enforcement and corrections professionals to seek better ways to […]

Building More Prisons Not Real Option

According to the Council of State Governments Justice Center, it would cost Alabama $840 million to build enough prison space to end the overcrowding.

Are School Suspensions too Harsh and Over-used?

“Too many schools resort too quickly to exclusionary discipline, even for minor misbehaviors,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, in his speech accompanying the January school guidance package.

Drop in Prison Population Is a Change Worth Cheering

Ben Felker-Quinn and Ashley Henderson’s op-ed (Gov. Corbett’s prison reform effort in Pennsylvania doesn’t look much like ‘justice’ or ‘reinvestment’ at all, July 23) is right about one thing. More could be done to reduce prison populations. But to deny the value of the 2012 corrections reforms is just eristic.

Tennessee Chosen as 1 of 5 States to Work On Juvenile Justice Reforms

The Center for State Governments Justice Center, along with the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), will partner with Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) Juvenile Justice Division, and four other states, to implement recommendations unveiled at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

Schools Must Abandon Zero-Tolerance Discipline

By helping principals and teachers address the underlying causes of misconduct—and giving them options other than suspension and expulsion—forward-thinking school districts across the nation are demonstrating how positive discipline can improve educational outcomes.

Getting Tough, and Smart, on Crime in Michigan

With Michigan’s correctional system consuming more and more taxpayer dollars every day, the time is right for a key fiscal question: “How can we get the most from our investment in public safety?”

Our View: Confront Prison Concerns

A lot of statistics crop up in discussions of Alabama’s prison system, such as the oft-cited reality that the system has almost twice as many inmates as its facilities were built to hold.

Barbara Levine: Evidence Suggests Michigan Must Make Sentence Reforms

Picture this: Jim pleads guilty to robbery in County A and is sentenced to nine to 20 years in prison. The parole board releases him when he has served nine. Bob, who has a similar prior record, pleads guilty to a similar robbery in County B. His sentence is 15-35 years.

Editorial: The Second Chance Act Proves Its Worth

A new study from the National Reentry Resource Center, created under the Second Chance Act, shows that recidivism rates can be significantly reduced when states commit to jailing only people who present a risk to public safety and to helping newly released prisoners find drug treatment, psychiatric counseling and the other services they need for a successful transition to the world beyond bars.

Judge Bill Carmody: Fine Tuning Our System Makes Sense

In 1998, Michigan designed and adopted the Michigan Sentencing Guideline system to assist the legal field of judges, lawyers, prosecutors, parole and probation agents and the public at large in providing a mechanism to address sentencing consistency and proportionality of convicted felons.