Researchers have devoted considerable attention to mass incarceration, specifically its magnitude, costs, and collateral consequences. In the face of economic constraints, strategies to reduce correctional populations while maintaining public safety are becoming a fiscal necessity. This panel will present strategies that states have undertaken to reduce incarceration rates while balancing taxpayer costs with ensuring public safety.
Professor Lawrence Sherman explains how policing can prevent far more crimes than prison per dollar spent. His analysis of the cost-effectiveness of prison compared to policing suggests that states can cut their total budgets for justice and reduce crime by reallocating their spending on crime: less prison, more police.
Dr. Kirk discusses how Hurricane Katrina affected ex-prisoners originally from New Orleans and their likelihood of returning to prison. Kirk also discussed potential strategies for fostering residential change among ex-prisoners, focusing specifically on parole residency policies and the provision of public housing vouchers.
With its criminal justice system in disarray following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans invited the Vera Institute of Justice to examine the city's court and jail operations. For five years, Vera has been tracking arrest-to-first-appearance time, custodial arrests versus summonses, the granting of pretrial release, and many other decision-making points. Based on analysis of these data, Vera is making policy recommendations to assist with the implementation of new procedures and to ensure performance monitoring.
Funded in part by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Pew Center on the States, the justice reinvestment project is a data-driven strategy aimed at policymakers to "reduce spending on corrections, increase public safety and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return." Representatives from two states where the justice reinvestment strategy is currently being implemented will discuss how it is being used to reduce the rate of incarceration and how states can reinvest in local communities.
How can we prevent reoffending and reduce costs? Research points to a number of solutions. At the Tuesday plenary, Judge Steven Alm from Hawaii will describe his successes with hard-core drug offenders. “Swift and sure” is his motto. West Virginia Cabinet Secretary James W. Spears will discuss the issues from his state's perspective, and Adam Gelb, Director of the Pew Charitable Trust's Public Safety Performance Project, will lend a national overview.