Last year, Massachusetts passed legislation representing the most significant changes to the state’s criminal justice system in decades. This legislation took concrete steps to incentivize good behavior in prison, divert people to treatment and programming as an alternative to incarceration, and strengthen community supervision.
Justice Reinvestment Posts
Before these units existed, people experiencing a mental health crisis who came into contact with police were often taken to jail, which caused crowding in county jails that are simply not equipped to provide the kind of care and treatment that crisis stabilization units can.
The IMPACTS (Improving People’s Access to Community-Based Treatment, Supports, and Services) grant program will offer supports and services to aid people with mental illnesses and substance addictions who frequently end up in the state’s jails, courts, and hospitals, which is currently costing these systems millions of dollars annually.
This pilot program stems from policy recommendations made during the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative in 2015. As a result of this initiative, Massachusetts invested more than $1 million in providing specialized treatment services to people who have substance addictions, mental illnesses, or co-occurring disorders and are at a high risk of reoffending.
New data released today by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, with support from Arnold Ventures, reveals the startling extent to which probation and parole violations contribute to states’ high prison admissions and populations, as well as the subsequent cost to taxpayers.
Last week the House Appropriations Committee passed a Commerce-Justice-Science bill that includes funding for three programs in FY2020—the Second Chance Act, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative—aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the local and state levels.
Three Justice Reinvestment Initiative bills that passed the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month could change the probation and parole landscape in the state.
Congressional leaders in April took strong bipartisan action in support of three programs in FY 2020—the Second Chance Act, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the local and state levels.
Under the new law, eligibility for victim compensation will be expanded to include victims who confide in a licensed medical or mental health care provider (including a tribal care provider) about the crime. Before, eligibility was limited only to victims who reported the crime to law enforcement within 30 days.
These speeches come against a backdrop of national criminal justice reform. In December 2018, President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act into law, which included the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, a bipartisan law that provides funding for reentry programs across the country.
In February, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed a package of Justice Reinvestment legislation into law. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 15, Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 19, HEA 53, and SEA 50 aim to reduce recidivism 25 percent by fiscal year 2024 and avert up to $18.1 million in costs that can be reinvested in increasing the availability and effectiveness of community-based behavioral health treatment for people on probation and parole.
President Trump signed the omnibus fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending bill, which provides $30.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Justice and includes $3.02 billion for various state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.
Michael P. Boggs, a Georgia Supreme Court justice, has been appointed chair of The Council of State Governments Justice Center’s Advisory Board.
In 2018, Pennsylvania’s state prison population decreased by more than a thousand people, or 2.2 percent, which is the largest recorded year-over-year decrease in the state’s history. The drop is due to decreases in admissions to prison for both new crimes and parole revocations.
On January 3, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum delivered his State of the State address, highlighting progress on a number of fronts, including efforts to combat the state’s behavioral health crisis.
I arrived at the CSG Justice Center aware that the field of criminal justice has changed dramatically since our inception in 2007, presenting our organization and others with new challenges and exciting opportunities. As we entered our second decade, I felt that we first needed to be sure we understand who we are, what we stand for, and how we fit into this growing field.
Gov. Doug Burgum became the latest governor to join the Face to Face initiative, a national call to action encouraging policymakers to personally engage with the people who are closest to the correctional system.
New Mexico’s newly established Justice Reinvestment Working Group recently met to work on a data-driven approach to analyze and address challenges in the state’s criminal justice system.
Missouri recently became the fifteenth and final state this year to host a state forum on public safety and continue the discussions begun at the 50-State Summit on Public Safety in November 2017 in Washington, DC.
California and Virginia are the most recent states to hold state forums on public safety to continue the discussions begun at the 50-State Summit on Public Safety that took place in November 2017 in Washington, DC.
Oregon’s Behavioral Health Justice Reinvestment Steering Committee met on Oct. 31 to officially launch the state’s participation in the federally funded Justice Reinvestment Initiative. The committee will focus on developing a statewide policy framework to support local governments in improving recidivism and health outcomes for people who repeatedly cycle through both the public safety and health systems.
At the meeting, staff from the CSG Justice Center and Hawaii’s Crime Victim Compensation Commission explored with participants how Hawaii has used five elements—policy, data, agency leadership and workforce, and interagency coordination—to create an effective model for improving the management of victim restitution.
Illinois and Montana are the latest in a number of states to convene state forums on public safety to continue the conversations begun at the 50-State Summit on Public Safety that took place in November 2017 in Washington, DC.
The CSG Justice Center has released an updated version of the 50-State Report on Public Safety that includes 2017 crime and arrest data. The report is a web-based resource that combines extensive data analyses, case studies and recommended strategies from all 50 states to help policymakers address their state’s specific public safety challenges.
At a recent North Dakota Justice Reinvestment Oversight Committee meeting, CSG Justice Center staff highlighted recent decreases in prison admissions that resulted from alcohol and drug offenses and probation revocations. These declines seem to be the cause of a 6.5-percent drop in the state’s total prison population in FY2018, which exceeded expectations, and have reinforced the state’s efforts to increase behavioral health services for people in the criminal justice system.
The primary function of correctional supervision was once seen as control and custody; however, corrections agencies have increasingly come to recognize that focusing on rehabilitation and planning for reentry are fundamental to their missions to increase public safety.
Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas became the latest governor to participate in Face to Face (#MeetFacetoFace), an initiative that encourages policymakers to connect with people closest to the correctional system. He joins 13 other governors—7 Republicans and 6 Democrats—that have participated in the initiative.
On July 16, Hawaii held a state forum on public safety as a continuation of the 50-State Summit on Public Safety that took place in November 2017 in Washington, DC.
New Mexico, Iowa, and Connecticut are the latest in a series of states to hold state forums on public safety as a continuation of the 50-State Summit on Public Safety that took place in November 2017 in Washington, DC.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved the fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which provides $30.7 billion for the U.S. Department of Justice and includes $2.87 billion for various state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.
As the corrections and community supervision paradigms shift toward implementing evidence-based practices and programs (EBPs), there is an emerging need for leaders in the field to ensure accurate application of EBPs throughout the workforce and improve how staff monitor program outcomes.
In recent weeks, Michigan, Oregon, and Wyoming became the latest states to host forums on public safety as a continuation of the 50-State Summit on Public Safety held in November 2017 in Washington, DC. All three forums were facilitated by staff from the CSG Justice Center.
On June 1, HB 1355—comprehensive criminal justice legislation that includes Justice Reinvestment policies—was signed into law in Missouri. These policies aim to expand community-based treatment for people in the criminal justice system who have substance addictions and mental illnesses, increase support for victims, and provide resources to local law enforcement to help reduce violent crime, among other measures.
In the past five years, Pennsylvania has saved more than $96 million as a result of justice reinvestment policies and reinvested more than $18 million of those savings in county-based projects to improve public safety outcomes.
As a continuation of the 50-State Summit on Public Safety held in November 2017 in Washington, DC, multiple states have been selected by the U.S Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to host individual state forums on public safety. Earlier this month, Vermont and Ohio became the first states to hold their forums, each of which was facilitated by staff from the CSG Justice Center.
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed legislation on March 30 making his state the first in the country to require all of its counties to collect data pertaining to courts, jails, policing, and prisons in a statewide system that is publicly accessible.
As a result of justice reinvestment legislation passed in Georgia in mid-2017, 17,570 active felony probation cases were moved to unsupervised status later that year, and more active cases continue to be transitioned at a steady pace. Probation officer caseload sizes have also decreased from an average of 170 people on active probation in 2016 to an average of 130 currently.
Alabama state leaders have appropriated $26.5 million in the FY2019 budget to support justice reinvestment legislation enacted in 2015. This includes $18.5 million to hire probation and parole officers and staff and expand behavioral health community-based treatment and services, as well as $8 million to support community corrections programs (CCPs). This appropriation brings Alabama’s total reinvestment between FY2016 and FY2019 to $95.6 million.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (right) recently signed two major pieces of criminal justice legislation that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature: HB 4012 and SB 2371. Together, these bills represent the most significant changes to the state’s criminal justice system in decades.
Arkansas’s first crisis stabilization unit (CSU) opened in Sebastian County on March 1 with high praise from Governor Asa Hutchinson. This center, which will provide services to people experiencing mental health crises, is the first of four such centers planned across the state. Officials are hopeful that it will serve as a model that other states can follow.
Victim restitution can be a vitally important part of a crime victim’s recovery, yet is often poorly understood and managed by states. Very few states have been able to show substantial progress in improving restitution, but Hawaii has done so and has the data to prove it. This success story was highlighted at the National Association of Attorneys General annual winter meeting in February in Washington, DC, in the panel discussion “Helping Crime Victims Recover from Financial Losses.”
While many approaches were touted, governors urged the use of research-based strategies proven to be effective, including technical skill and workforce development programs as well as addiction and mental health treatment provided during incarceration.
The Council of State Governments (CSG) recently announced that Megan Quattlebaum, research scholar in law at Yale University Law School and lecturer in law at Columbia University Law School, will be the next director of The CSG Justice Center.
In 2017, states continued to adopt cost-effective and data-driven solutions to improve public safety. Bipartisan majorities in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, and Rhode Island all successfully enacted historic policy changes to their adult criminal justice systems after conducting intensive data analysis through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.
On Nov. 13 and 14, state and local leaders from all 50 states convened in Washington, DC, for the 50-State Summit on Public Safety. Sponsored by The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Association of State Correctional Administrators, the summit prepared state leaders to develop effective solutions that elected officials at all levels of government can support to solve public safety challenges.
Corrections directors, state legislators, law enforcement officials and behavioral health professionals from all 50 states recently gathered at The 50-State Summit on Public Safety, an event designed to help critical leaders examine individual state trends in crime, arrests, corrections populations, addiction and mental health, and ultimately develop integrated approaches to addressing their unique challenges.
On October 5, 2017, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed a package of justice reinvestment bills, which are expected to improve the state’s criminal justice system by supporting rehabilitation and informed decision making in sentencing, probation, and parole.
“These crisis stabilization units promise to provide a great deal of help to our state, not merely in helping [alleviate] jail overcrowding and assisting our first-responders, but also in making sure that those who need help are more likely to get it,” Governor Hutchinson said.
The Pennsylvania Justice Reinvestment Working Group recently released a comprehensive report that details how the state can increase public safety by strengthening probation supervision, improving access to substance use treatment programs and expanding available responses for parole violations, while reducing its prison population by more than 1,000 people.
North Dakota Presiding District Court Judge Frank Racek is calling for state leaders to work together to transform the current system for delivering community-based services to people in the criminal justice system to one that follows risk, needs, and responsivity principles. Judge Racek argues that the system for delivering rehabilitative treatment must focus on people’s individual criminogenic needs; assess people promptly to help inform decisions and create action plans; respond to program participants’ setbacks appropriately; and, evaluate programs regularly to ensure that they’re effective.
In the spring of 2017, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed a series of bills that were developed as part of a justice reinvestment approach and are expected to significantly improve the state’s criminal justice system.
For years, Idaho Department of Correction leaders believed they were running a top-notch corrections program. But an evaluation of their programming upended that notion and compelled then Director Kevin Kempf to make some tough choices to bring about change.
On May 9, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed legislation to strengthen probation practices. Faced with the highest probation rate in the country, Georgia engaged in a justice reinvestment process to safely reduce the number of people on probation while improving supervision strategies to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed legislation on April 21 that enables the state to appropriate $7 million from the general fund to increase the quality of community-based behavioral health treatment for people in the criminal justice system and an additional half a million dollars to increase the number of treatment providers to serve this population, which can significantly reduce recidivism and improve public health outcomes.
In 2012, probation officers began using short jail sanctions as a swift response to minor violations. A recent study conducted by the state found that people who received the short jail sanctions were one-third less likely to be revoked to prison than the comparison group.
On behalf of the U.S. Action Network, Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey of 500 Pennsylvania voters about the state’s criminal justice system in January 2017. Respondents included Republicans and Democrats from urban, suburban, and rural parts of the state.
On March 8, state leaders from Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina convened at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. to discuss how these states have used the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—an approach designed to reduce spending on corrections and reinvest in more effective strategies to reduce recidivism and bolster public safety.
Arizona spent $100 million annually in 2008 to revoke people from probation to state prison. After adopting new evidence-based policies and practices, revocations are down 29 percent and new felony convictions by probationers have dropped by 21 percent, saving taxpayers more than $392 million over the past eight years.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center is currently engaged in justice reinvestment efforts in several states across the country. Here are some recent highlights of the work that is underway.
Idaho Governor Butch Otter is supporting a recommendation from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to spend $11.2 million to provide community-based mental health services to about 7,400 people on felony probation and parole.
Governors from West Virginia, Arkansas, and North Dakota recently pointed to criminal justice reform work that the CSG Justice Center has done in in their states.
Four years after enacting justice reinvestment legislation, Pennsylvania can point to significant improvements in its criminal justice system. The state has reduced inefficiencies in its parole and corrections systems; developed responses to major parole violations that include short periods of incarceration followed by supervision and treatment, as necessary; and made changes to state-funded community corrections programs.
Leading a statewide effort to reform criminal justice policies can be daunting because the stakes are high for everyone involved. That is why many state leaders turn to a data-driven justice reinvestment approach to identify the drivers of rising corrections costs and develop state-specific solutions that reduce corrections spending and reinvest a portion of those savings into strategies that can reduce recidivism.
This report, a compilation of a national survey of state parole boards and the U.S. Parole Commission, is a resource for parole and correctional authorities, policymakers, and other criminal justice system stakeholders who are interested in seeing how parole boards across the country compare with one another.
Earlier this month, Hawaii enacted Senate Bill 2964, which—among other measures—changed the penal code to raise the felony theft threshold for the first time since 1986, from $300 to $750.
If your agency is using a risk and needs assessment, you should take action to identify how the tool is performing and develop a plan to remediate any issues (e.g., scoring inconsistencies or low predictive accuracy) you may discover.
States across the country have reduced corrections spending by using a data-driven justice reinvestment approach and are investing savings in programs to reduce crime and recidivism. However, just as most people wouldn’t buy a house without first inspecting it to see if it needs extensive repairs and is worth purchasing, policymakers shouldn’t fund programs without periodically evaluating whether they’re in need of renovating and are worth investing in.
The tragedies of the past week weigh heavily on us. As public safety officials in our respective states, we were outraged to see the very people working to protect the public murdered because of the uniform they wear. We also feel deeply for residents of communities who, because of the color of their skin, fear the people who have sworn an oath to protect them.
This report, from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, includes initial analyses and findings of performance measures related to the implementation of North Carolina’s Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) of 2011, which changed the state’s sentencing laws and correctional practices substantially
A new bipartisan Justice Reinvestment Working Group composed of members from all three branches of Pennsylvania’s government met for the first time on March 9 at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg for a presentation by The Council of State Governments Justice Center on pressing criminal justice issues in the state.
This report includes the written and oral testimony that W. David Guice, Commissioner of the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, gave to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary on February 10, 2016.
After enacting justice reinvestment legislation, North Carolina and Pennsylvania embarked on extensive statewide supervision staff training aimed at improving supervision practices. This Q&A discussion with two agency administrators may benefit other jurisdictions considering similar approaches.
“We welcome this opportunity to further review our criminal justice system and build on our work to reduce recidivism and to ensure that spending on corrections is as cost-effective as possible, while adhering to our high standards of public safety,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.
In collaboration with The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, Massachusetts held the first in a series of working group meetings on Tuesday, January 12 that will examine the state’s criminal justice system with the goal of using a justice reinvestment approach to reduce recidivism, curb corrections spending, and improve public safety.
The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center partners with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to propose solutions that will help local officials faced with heavy dockets, overwhelmed treatment services, and antiquated jail facilities and management information systems.
Faced with one of the highest violent crime rates in the country in 2010, Oklahoma state policymakers created the Safe Oklahoma Grant Program to fund law enforcement-led strategies to reduce violent crime as part of the state’s justice reinvestment effort. Between 2013 and 2015, almost $4 million was distributed to more than a dozen local law enforcement agencies to help implement new or enhance existing data-driven policing strategies.
In 2014, leaders in Nebraska asked The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center to help the state tackle prison overcrowding using a justice reinvestment approach. Victim advocates in the state were actively engaged in the process, and the justice reinvestment legislation signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts in May 2015 is projected to increase the amount of victim restitution collected by $2.8 million over the next five years.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center met with the bipartisan Arkansas Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force recently to launch a study of Arkansas’s criminal justice system, with a particular focus on the sources of the state’s rapid prison population growth.
Leaders from both parties joined Governor Steve Bullock on Wednesday, Nov. 18, to launch a comprehensive examination of Montana’s criminal justice system as the state faces a growing prison population and costly projections to expand capacity.
In 2012, West Virginia’s governor and legislative leaders faced some dire challenges. The state had the highest drug overdose death rate in the country, funding for treatment in the community was scarce, everyone from prosecutors to judges was clamoring for more treatment for people with substance use issues who were going through the courts, and supervision failures often stemming from substance use were fueling growth in the prison population, which was rising faster than nearly every other state in the nation.
When Kevin Kempf became director of the Idaho Department of Correction in December 2014, he knew he needed to take a hard look at the nearly $10 million the department spends annually on programs to reduce recidivism among the 22,000 people in prison or on probation and parole supervision.
In an effort to curb corrections spending, reduce recidivism, and improve public safety, Massachusetts state leaders announced the formation of a 25-member bipartisan working group that will partner with The Council of State Governments Justice Center to review the state’s criminal justice system.
The national prison population fell 1 percent from 2013 to 2014—down 15,400 to 1,561,500—making it the smallest total prison population since 2005.
Alabama state leaders celebrated a victory in September when the Legislature voted to allocate $16 million of the state’s General Fund budget to jumpstart wide-ranging justice reinvestment legislation enacted earlier this year.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order on Tuesday, July 7, to launch a comprehensive study of the state’s criminal justice system using a “justice reinvestment” approach, which will identify new ways to relieve pressures on the correctional system and increase public safety.
After years of pursuing separate approaches to providing supervision and treatment, Kansas has become a national leader in providing integrated services to people on probation and parole who need mental health or substance use treatment.
Programs that are effective at reducing recidivism have three core elements in common: they target people who are most likely to reoffend (who); they use practices rooted in the latest research on what works to reduce recidivism (what); and they regularly review program quality and evaluate how closely the program adheres to its established model (how well).
Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama and Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska each signed legislation enacting reforms to their states’ correctional and criminal justice systems, completing yearlong processes of analysis and policy-making that began in June 2014.
More states than ever before are using actuarial risk assessment to determine the likelihood that people involved with the criminal justice system will reoffend. This information is critically important for developing case management plans for people in prison and on supervision, as well as to inform parole release decision making and determine the intensity of supervision and programming for people upon release from prison.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley last week signed into law historic criminal justice reforms designed to significantly reduce the state’s prison population and bolster public safety through an overhaul of how people are supervised after being released from incarceration.
After decades of looking the other way while prison populations swelled and conditions deteriorated, the Alabama Legislature took a major step toward meaningful prison reform this week.
The Alabama Legislature today overwhelmingly approved a bill intended to reduce overcrowding in Alabama prisons.
The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center delivered separate reports to Nebraska and Washington last month outlining potential policy changes as state government leaders consider making significant changes to their criminal justice systems.
During their recent State of the State addresses, governors across the country talked about criminal justice reforms in their states, including justice reinvestment, which is a data-driven approach to reduce corrections spending and reinvest a portion of the savings in strategies that can reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
In his 2015 State of the State address, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter highlighted his administration’s progress in establishing more effective community supervision practices and reducing recidivism through implementation of the state’s Justice Reinvestment Act.
In his 2015 State of the State address, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin highlighted his administration’s progress in expanding access to substance use treatment for individuals on supervision, a key component of the state’s Justice Reinvestment Act, which includes policies designed to reduce corrections spending and increase public safety.
Olympia, WA—Governor Jay Inslee, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, and a bipartisan group of state legislators accepted a justice reinvestment policy framework for the state’s criminal justice and corrections systems on Jan. 14, capping a year of interbranch research and cooperation. […]
Members of Nebraska’s Unicameral Legislature convened to review proposals for tackling state prison overcrowding while also addressing the rights of victims and increasing public safety.
The bipartisan Washington State Justice Reinvestment Taskforce voted on December 5 to adopt a set of policy options developed to address issues in the state’s criminal justice system.