New Partnership for National Sheriffs’ Association
The National Sheriffs’ Association is now partnering with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP). PSPP and its partners provide nonpartisan research, analysis, and assistance to states interested in exploring sentencing and corrections reforms in the criminal and juvenile justice system that will reduce both reoffending rates and prison spending. The project does not advocate preset solutions, but rather collaborates in partnership with state policy leaders and criminal justice stakeholders to develop data-driven policy options based on analysis of the state’s particular challenges and lessons learned from other states. Nearly 25 states have worked with PSPP and its partners to develop policies that hold offenders accountable, improve public safety and control corrections costs. NSA and PSPP look forward to collaborating nationally on data-driven solutions that will achieve better returns for the country’s public safety dollars. More information on PSPP can be found on their website.
Sheriffs and Victims Unite for Justice Reinvestment
Justice Reinvestment is designed to hold offenders accountable, control taxpayer costs, and keep communities safe – goals that sheriffs and victims heartily endorse. Sheriff Craig Webre (Lafourche Parish, LA), Chair of NSA’s Crime Victim Services Committee, and Anne Seymour, National Crime Victim Advocate, discuss how Justice Reinvestment begins with the gathering of data to identify problems in the criminal justice system and then engages all branches of government and outside stakeholders to develop practical, evidence-based policies that reduce corrections spending and direct savings into programs proven to improve public safety. Click here
to read article.
Effective Sentencing and Corrections Reform: Sheriffs Getting Involved
Sheriff Kevin Thom, Pennington County, discusses his experience in South Dakota that showed him there is an effective, proven process to help states reduce crime, hold offenders accountable and control prison costs – and that sheriffs must play a role in such efforts. Click here to read more.
Three States Begin Process of Reforming Their Sentencing and Corrections Systems:
This summer, Nebraska, Washington and Alabama launched the Justice Reinvestment Initiative with the assistance of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment is a data-driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism. The CSG Justice Center will assist these states by reviewing their sentencing and corrections systems and developing policy recommendations to improve public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs. To learn more, read here: http://csgjusticecenter.org/jr.
New Pew Report Reveals that More State Prisoners Are Being Released Without Supervision
In 2012, more than 1 in 5 state inmates maxed out their prison terms and were released to their communities without any supervision, undermining efforts to reduce reoffending rates and improve public safety. A new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision, found that despite growing evidence and a broad consensus that the period immediately following release from prison is critical for preventing recidivism, a large and increasing number of offenders are maxing out—serving their entire sentences behind bars—and returning to their communities without supervision or support. These inmates do not have any legal conditions imposed on them, are not monitored by parole or probation officers, and do not receive the assistance that can help them lead crime-free lives. Yet new research suggests that for many offenders, shorter prison terms followed by supervision have the potential to reduce both recidivism and overall corrections costs.
In the past few years, policymakers in at least eight states took steps to ensure that offenders are supervised after release from prison. Among the measures: mandating a period of post-prison supervision, carving that time out of the prison term rather than adding it at the end, improving parole decision-making, tailoring the intensity and duration of supervision to each offender’s public safety risk level, and strengthening community corrections through reinvestment in evidence-based practices. This new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts examines the rise in max-outs and its policy origins, looks at states that are leading on the use of post-prison supervision to protect public safety and reduce costs, and provides a framework to help other states use evidence to inform release and supervision decisions.
To learn more, please visit the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts here
Mississippi Enacts Legislation to Improve Public Safety, Ensure Certainty in Sentencing, and Control Corrections Costs
Between 1983 and 2013, Mississippi’s prison population grew by 300 percent to more than 22,400 inmates; without a change in policy, the state projected that the incarcerated population would grow by 1,951 inmates at a cost of $266 million over 10 years. With the assistance of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Mississippi conducted an extensive review of data which revealed that nonviolent offenders and those revoked for probation or parole violations accounted for a large and growing share of Mississippi’s prison population. In addition, a 28 percent increase in sentence lengths from 2002 to 2012 led to longer average prison stays, even while the percent of the sentence served by Mississippi offenders dropped by 22 percent. Finally, courts had few alternatives at their disposal for lower-level nonviolent offenders. In response, state policymakers developed recommendations aimed at refocusing prison space on violent and career criminals, strengthening community supervision, and ensuring certainty and clarity in sentencing. These recommendations were codified in H.B. 585, which passed with large bipartisan majorities in both legislative chambers and was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant on March 31, 2014. This legislation is expected to avert all of Mississippi’s projected prison growth over the coming decade, saving taxpayers $266 million in prison expenditures, and restoring certainty and clarity to Mississippi’s sentencing system. The savings achieved will allow corrections dollars to be redirected into community supervision and programs proved to reduce recidivism. More information on Mississippi’s reforms can be found here.
Idaho Adopts a Public Safety Package that Will Reduce Recidivism and Contain the Cost of Corrections
This past March, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law a bill aimed at improving public safety, reducing recidivism and slowing growth in Idaho’s prison population. The legislation was unanimously approved by both the Idaho House and Senate and received widespread support from criminal justice system stakeholders. With the assistance of the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Idaho identified three challenges confronting its criminal justice system: (1) revolving prison doors, with offenders getting out only to reoffend and return; (2) inefficient use of prison space; and (3) insufficient oversight to ensure that state-funded recidivism-reduction strategies were yielding the intended outcomes. The bill includes provisions for strengthening probation and parole supervision practices and programs to reduce recidivism; structuring parole to make more productive use of prison space; tailoring sanctions for violations of supervision; and assessing, tracking, and ensuring the success of recidivism-reduction strategies. If implemented appropriately, Senate Bill 1357 will help the state avert up to $288 million in new prison spending over the next five years. Of those savings, $33 million is recommended for reinvestment back into probation and parole officer training, more officers to supervise probationers and parolees, community-based substance use treatment, and improvements to the victim restitution collection process. Read more about Idaho’s recent efforts here.