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Reforming Sentencing and Corrections Policy: The Experience of Justice Reinvestment Initiative States

NCJ Number
Samantha Harvell; Jeremy Welsh-Loveman; Hanna Love
Date Published
December 2016
97 pages
This report updates the findings presented in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) State Assessment Report of January 2014 and summarizes what has happened in the 28 States that engaged in the JRI process between 2010 and 2016.
The JRI was developed through a public-private partnership between the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew). It was formally launched in 2010 to help States understand their correctional trends based on data collection and analysis and then develop and adopt policies and practices to improve the cost-effectiveness of the management of their corrections populations. Many States are still in the early stages of implementing JRI, so attempts to draw firm conclusions are premature; however, a review of participating States' efforts shows that 2015 prison populations in just over half of the JRI States were below previously projected levels. Through 2016 , JRI States reported $1.1 billion in savings or averted costs attributable to JRI reforms. There has also been a shift toward prioritizing the collection and analysis of data that enables objective evaluations of the effectiveness of correctional policies and practices in reducing recidivism and achieving related objectives. Challenges remain, however, as some JRI States have experienced impediments in passing reform legislation or fully translating policy into practice. This report analyzes specific JRI efforts in amending sentencing laws, reforming pretrial practices, modifying prison release practices, strengthening community corrections, and ensuring sustainability of reforms. Also discussed are performance measurement and outcomes, as well as challenges and lessons learned. 12 figures, 4 tables, 135 notes, and approximately 50 references