Prison population counts
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.
Ohio State University Since World War II, the homicide rate in the U.S. has been three to ten times higher than in Canada, Western Europe, and Japan. This, however, has not always been the case. What caused the dramatic change? Dr. Roth discussed how and why rates of different kinds of homicide have varied across time and space over the past 450 years, including an examination of the murder of children by parents or caregivers, intimate partner violence, and homicides among unrelated adults.
Change doesn't come easy, particularly within an institution as large and complex as the criminal justice system. Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation, offered lessons from several efforts to make reform stick in criminal justice settings. In particular, he focused on the development of community courts — experimental court projects that are attempting to reduce both crime and incarceration in dozens of cities across the U.S. and around the world.
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.
A small number of offenders who are heavily involved in drugs commit a large portion of the crime in this country. An evaluation of a "smart supervision" effort in Hawaii that uses swift and certain sanctioning showed that heavily involved drug offenders can indeed change their behavior when the supervision is properly implemented.
How do we decide how to allocate criminal justice resources in a way that minimizes the social harms from both crime and policy efforts to control crime? How, for that matter, do we decide how much to spend on the criminal justice system and crime control generally, versus other pressing needs? These questions are at the heart of benefit-cost analysis.
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.
In response to rising incarceration rates and prison overcrowding, Florida has developed the first statewide house arrest program. This 'Crime File' segment examines this program and its use of electronic monitoring devices.