Nine Lessons about Criminal Justice Reform
Date:  08-01-2017

The federal criminal justice system can learn from states how to reduce incarceration, recidivism and how to increase public safety
From The Marshall Report:

From remarks to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, San Francisco, July 17, 2017:

Since November, a kind of fatalistic cloud has settled over the campaign to reform the federal criminal justice system. With a law-and-order president, a tough-on-crime attorney general, and a Congress that has become even more polarized than it was in former President Barack Obama’s time, most reform advocates say any serious fixes to the federal system are unlikely.

Reformers have been consoling themselves by looking to the states. After all, most of law enforcement, most of criminal jurisprudence, and most incarceration takes place at the state or local level.

“Reform” is one of those ambiguous words that mean different things to different people. I think of reform as something that aims to reduce the numbers of Americans who are removed from society and deprived of their freedom, and to do it without making us less safe. In 1972, when I was starting my newspaper life at The Oregonian, 93 out of 100,000 Americans were in state or federal prisons. By 2008 the incarceration rate had grown nearly six-fold, to 536 per 100,000, and it has hovered in that vicinity ever since. That’s not counting the hundreds of thousands held in county jails on any given day or those confined in the juvenile justice system or immigrant detention.

Every year about 650,000 of those prisoners are released back into the world. We know that most of them will be unemployed a year later, and that two-thirds of them will be rearrested within three years. We have a corrections system that fails to correct. Here are a few lessons Washington can learn from the states. Continue reading >>>