On November 18, 2014 Reentry Central posted an article based on a request from Matt Blackbourn of the Pioneer Institute (PI). Blackbourn requested that Reentry Central (RC) share with our readers information concerning PI’s latest competition.
“We are a Boston-based non-profit policy research organization that holds an annual citizens’ ideas contest to pool some of the country’s most innovative proposals to improve government services. This year, we’re seeking creative ideas for criminal justice reform, with focus on reducing recidivism, mass incarceration and the collateral consequences of a criminal record. Our goal is to identify effective channels through which to improve public safety and address disturbing trends in the exploding costs of corrections.”
PI wants to remind those who might be interested in entering this competition that the April 6, 2015 deadline is fast approaching, and sent RC the following information to publish:
Pioneer Institute program seeks public input on justice reform ideas
By many metrics, the American economy is roaring back to robust levels of performance not seen since before the Great Recession. National unemployment last month was down to 5.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the U.S. labor market saw the best three-month period of hiring since 1997, and expressed a new optimism that American workers could expect the first significant wage growth in years. The general consensus among experts today seems to be that the country has finally turned the page after a sluggish recovery and is entering a new chapter of economic opportunity and prosperity.
What does this brighter economic outlook translate into for the millions of Americans to be released from prison over the next several years? Alas, one measure of progress that is routinely overlooked is improvement in opportunity for offenders and their successful reintegration into the workforce and society at-large.
Recognizing the imperative of reform on this issue, the Pioneer Institute has made reducing recidivism rates and improving reentry channels for offenders, two main areas of focus for its Better Government Competition this year.
Our choice of topic couldn’t be more timely. Reentry remains one of the most significant challenges facing policymakers today, and the numbers reveal an alarming reality. As a June 2014 report from Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project revealed, 1 in 5 inmates maxed out their prison terms and re-entered society without any form of supervision in 2012. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report from April of last year presented similarly grim findings: approximately two thirds of all prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years of release—three quarters of this group were arrested within five years. The statistics here confirm the dramatic need for improvement in programs designed to help offenders transition back into the labor market and live healthy and productive lives.
We encourage all those who identify the need for justice reform, in all forms, to submit their ideas for change to our Competition. With input from the countless number of those impacted by our troubled criminal justice system, we’ll be in the best position to help implement ideas that will bring about dramatic and positive change.
The winner of the competition receives a $10,000 award, and three runners-up receive $1,000. Ideas and innovations for federal, state and local reform are welcome.
For more information, please see the competition guidelines available on Pioneer’s Better Government Competition website.