JS Publication April 1, 2008

Diversion Works: How Connecticut Can Downsize Prisons, Improve Public Safety and Save Money with a Comprehensive Mental Health and Substance Abuse Approach

This report, prepared by Judy Greene and Russ Immarigeon, Justice Strategies consultant and editor of various national criminal justice publications, presents information about the incarceration of mentally ill people, many with co-occurring substance abuse problems. It identifies effective program models that could be used to ease the Connecticut’s prison population pressures and reverse its growth trend.

JS Publication October 31, 2005

Alabama Prison Crisis

Justice Strategies researchers find that nonviolent drug offenses drive explosive prison population growth

Alabama's prisons are dangerously overcrowded and disastrously under-funded. Facilities designed for 13,500 prisoners hold more than 27,000, and Alabama's largest prisons are crammed to three times their design capacity. State corrections officials struggle daily to manage a system characterized by the nation's lowest per-prisoner expenditures and highest ratio of prisoners to guards, along with a death rate that far exceeds the norm.

Alabama's prison crisis is a consequence of explosive prison population growth. While the state's resident population grew by less than 20 percent during the past quarter-century, the prison population more than quadrupled, surpassing 27,000 prisoners in July 2005. Alabama's incarceration rate, which barely exceeded the national average in 1980, now ranks among the top five. African-Americans — who make up just a quarter of Alabama residents but 60 percent of state prisoners — have been hit hard by prison population growth, as have women whose share of the population has increased rapidly.

Read more »

News Article May 12, 2004

Arizona lawmakers join call for sentencing reform

Respected Republican Rep. Bill Konopnicki (R -- Stafford) and Sen. Carolyn Allen (R -- Scottsdale) welcomed the release of a report blaming the growth in incarceration on Arizona's rigid mandatory sentencing laws, and they pledged to support legislation establishing a sentencing commission to study the matter.

"Arizona Prison Crisis: A Call for Smart on Crime Solutions" was Commissioned by Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) and released at a May 11, 2004 press conference. The report provides policymakers with the first detailed look at the state's prison population and the specific laws that fuel the current overcrowding crisis.

Authored by Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis of Justice Strategies, the report paints a portrait of a prison system packed with people convicted of non-violent and low-level offenses, disproportionate numbers of people of color and a rapidly growing population of women. The report outlines comprehensive suggestions for sentencing reform, as well as more immediate steps to reduce overcrowding and save money. Read more »

JS Publication May 11, 2004

Arizona Prison Crisis: A Call for Smart On Crime Solutions

Mandatory sentencing laws fuel overcrowding, fill prisons with substance abusers

With the ninth highest rate of incarceration in the nation, Arizona has become the incarceration capital of the western United States. The rate of prison population growth in 2002 was twice the regional average and the state incarcerates women, Latinos and African Americans at higher rates than its neighbors.

Arizona's high incarceration rate is driven by a rigid mandatory sentencing system that severely restricts judges' discretion in imposing sentences and crowds prisons with non-violent substance abusers. Mandatory and lengthy "enhanced" prison terms are required for a variety of offenses, regardless of the facts in the case or the seriousness of the underlying conduct. Except in cases involving first-time defendants charged with low-level property or drug offenses, the system places all sentencing discretion in the hands of prosecutors. Read more »

Syndicate content