U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Community Corrections: An Executive Session on the Future of Correctional Policy

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $993,386)

The National Institute of Justice will convene a Harvard Executive Session on the future of community corrections policy. The session includes several steering committee meetings and a series of full executive sessions (proposed dates for sessions: October 2013, April 2014, October 2014, April 2015, October 2015, and April 2016.
The Harvard Executive Session was developed and refined over the last 25 years at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. An Executive Session is a formal working group of high-level practitioners and academics who come together about twice yearly to guide the development of a public sector "industry" or field. The process of convening and holding an Executive Session supports a continuing program of research, analysis, and communication with practitioner communities. The discussions at the session are structured to allow participants to challenge conventional wisdom about the nature of problems and the policies and strategies needed to solve them.
The impetus for this Session on community corrections is, in part, the fiscal imperative to reduce correctional costs and growing skepticism regarding experimentation with alternatives to prison. In some jurisdictions this involves redesigning parole and probation to curtail revocations; in other places, sentencing reform has promoted diversion particularly for drug and other nonviolent offenders. The topic of community corrections facilitates an exploration of these reforms and the place of community supervision and programs in the broader context of criminal processing. An Executive Session at this time will help to capitalize on the current momentum for reform, crystallize new models for supervision under reduced incarceration rates, and help galvanize leading practitioners - law enforcement, prosecutors, correctional officials and service providers - around a reform project based on best and innovative policy.
Additionally, the Executive Session will begin meeting as work concludes for the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Incarceration Rates. The NRC Committee has a threefold charge to study the causes of the increase in incarceration rates in the United States since the 1970s, the consequences of high incarceration rates for crime and other outcomes, and the alternatives to criminal justice policy that rely heavily on incarceration. The NRC Committee will detail social science research in the area and review policy options for reducing incarceration. This Executive Session will complement and extend the work of the NRC panel. By enlisting leading practitioners and promoting dialogue with researchers, the Executive Session will provide a forum for a substantial policy conversation that aims to understand the most promising measures necessary for robust public safety in an environment of low incarceration rates. Such a discussion would explore avenues for reducing prison populations, involving community supervision, and developing other kinds of community-based policy supports.
Participants: The Steering Committee will be formed and will develop the list of participants and the agenda for the sessions. The Steering Committee will include representation from NIJ and Harvard and a few leading researchers and practitioners drawn from across the country. Researchers on the committee will come from the fields of law, criminal justice policy, criminology, economics, and sociology. Steering Committee practitioner members will be selected from leaders in community corrections, prosecution, and social services. Historically, Executive Sessions include 25-28 "standing" participants. Participation is expected to be consistent and permanent throughout the Session. nca/ncf

Date Created: September 27, 2012