FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Today, a group of researchers, analysts, and advocates dedicated to ending mass incarceration in the United States issued a paper that traces the history and examines the impact of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) as spearheaded by the Council of State Governments and its principal funders, Pew Charitable Trusts and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The primary conclusion is that while the JRI has played a significant role in softening the ground for criminal justice reform, it has not made significant reductions in the correctional populations or costs in most of the states in which it has worked. This contrasts with the original intent of Justice Reinvestment which was to reduce corrections populations and budgets, thereby generating savings for reinvestment in high incarceration communities to make them safer, stronger, and more equitable.
If the JRI continues on its current course, it runs the risk of institutionalizing mass incarceration at current high levels and missing current opportunities to reduce prison populations and spending. Instead, the authors concluded, the JRI could have a real impact if it were required to aim for meaningful reductions in correctional populations and investment in high-incarceration communities as concrete, necessary, and measurable goals.
The major reasons the authors cite that the current JRI approach will not achieve significant reductions in correctional populations and build stronger, safer communities are:
To achieve the goals of reducing corrections populations and costs and investing in local communities, the authors recommend Justice Reinvestment approaches that would:
Ending Mass Incarceration: Charting a New Justice Reinvestment was co-authored by James Austin, JFA Institute; Eric Cadora, Justice Mapping Center; Todd R. Clear, Rutgers University; Kara Dansky, American Civil Liberties Union; Judith Greene, Justice Strategies; Vanita Gupta, American Civil Liberties Union; Marc Mauer, The Sentencing Project; Nicole Porter, The Sentencing Project; Susan Tucker, Former Director, The After Prison Initiative, Open Society Foundations; and Malcolm C. Young, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University Law School.