States Save Taxpayer Dollars on Criminal Justice

The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently released data which reveals that, between 2009 and 2010, state expenditures on corrections declined 5.6 percent. Not only are taxpayers breathing a bit easier, but in that same time frame, violent crime went down 6.0 percent, while property crime was reduced 2.7 percent.

Public safety is a core function of state government. We expect state officials to use our tax dollars to help keep our streets safe. But this data suggests that the most important metric in criminal justice spending is not how much states spend, but how they spend those tax dollars. Smart justice policies can save money while continually increasing public safety.

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Pennsylvania Cuts Prison Population Growth

For the first time in the last ten years, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections did not need to ask the Pennsylvania Legislature for more money.

That’s because the prison population growth has leveled off after 30 years of fairly consistent increases. The November month-end population in Pennsylvania prisons was 51,260. That’s compared to 51,467 a year ago. Stemming the tide of the prison population growth is an important step in the process of right-sizing the Pennsylvania criminal justice that gained steam in October with the passage of a justice reinvestment package in that state.

Pennsylvania has also been able to end the expensive practice of contracting for prison beds in other states to handle the overflow of prisoners. The state is now well-poised to implement the same types of reforms that Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and other states have used to cut prison costs and better protect public safety.

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Criminal Justice Reform Report Released in Georgia

Earlier this year, Georgia passed one of nation’s most sweeping pieces of criminal justice reform legislation. The legislation, however, was focused on the state’s adult corrections system. Georgia is now turning it’s attention to the juvenile justice system, and the first step is this report, which was issued yesterday by the state’s Criminal Justice Reform Council.

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Discussing Juvenile Justice with “Pure Politics” in Kentucky

Last month, Right On Crime’s Jeanette Moll traveled to Kentucky to present research on juvenile justice to stakeholders involved in reforming several aspects of the state juvenile system — including how it handles status offenders. A task force in Kentucky is studying the issue, and it is looking for lessons from Texas’s experience. While in Louisville, Moll sat down with Ryan Alessi of Pure Politics to discuss cost-effective juvenile justice:

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U.S. Senate Hearing on the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing on “Ending the School to Prison Pipeline.” The Washington Post covered the hearing here. Click here to watch the hearing in full.

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