News Article Grand Rapids Press March 4, 2010

Study claims reducing Michigan's inmate count has not affected public safety

As state lawmakers decide whether to reinstate "good-time" credits for prisoners, studies by a national organization show the state has lowered its prison population while maintaining public safety.

The Sentencing Project said the reports showed a successful trend toward sentencing reform and reduced imprisonment to cut costs.

"More recent efforts by managers at the Michigan Department of Corrections are helping to reduce prison admissions, increase parole release, and provide a statewide re-entry initiative to increase parole success and avoid returning people to prison," a report said.

News Article March 4, 2010

Michigan: Michigan Gets Highest Rank in Nation for Safe Prisoner Releases

According to two new reports, Michigan leads the country in safely releasing prisoners back into society. The two studies were conducted nationally by Justice Strategies, and the Sentencing Project. Both companies advocate for criminal justice reform. Their findings were released Wednesday by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency. According to the organization the numbers show Michigan has done well in downsizing its prison system.

Elizabeth Arnovits, Executive Director, Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency: "Basically what it says about Michigan is that we have done a very thoughtful and very good job of reducing prison populations, making sure the right people are in prison and making sure people don't stay longer than is necessary, and reducing cost at the same time."

To conduct the study data was gathered from Michigan's correctional system, and compared with other prisons from across the nation. According to the report from 2006-2009 the state reduced its prison population by 12%, without any increase in crime. The decline is credited to changes in sentencing, the restructure of community corrections planning, and the success of the state's prison re-entry program. But not everyone is buying the report in its entirety.

News Article North Country Gazette March 3, 2010

Fiscal Crisis, Incarceration Rates Spur Downsizing

As states grapple with the fiscal crisis and confront costly and overburdened criminal justice systems, two reports released Wednesday by The Sentencing Project offer roadmaps to successful prison downsizing that maintain public safety.

The reports document a growing trend to reform sentencing policies and scale back the use of imprisonment in order to control spending.

“Downscaling Prisons: Lessons from Four States,” released by Justice Strategies and The Sentencing Project, finds that four states – Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York – have reduced their prison populations by 5% to 20% since 1999 without any increases in crime. This came about at a time when the national prison population increased by 12%; and in six states it increased by more than 40%. The reductions were achieved through a mix of legislative reforms and changes in practice by corrections and parole agencies. The reforms included: Read more »

JS Publication March 3, 2010

Downscaling Prisons: Lessons from Four States

Downsizing Prisons is a collaborative research effort between Justice Strategies and The Sentencing Project that examines four states – Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York -- that have moved against the growth trend in state prison populations of 12% since 2000. These states achieved significant declines in prison populations and offer lessons to policymakers in other states.

JS Publication September 10, 2009

Strategies for Engaging Suburban and Rural Communities in New Jersey

This memo is designed to assist the New Jersey Second Chance coalition in their efforts to educate legislators that represent rural and suburban towns about areas of common ground they share with urban communities seeking criminal justice reform. Serving as a best practices document rooted in experiences pushing for criminal justice reforms in Connecticut, strategies from this memo are designed to help New Jersey advocates engage non-traditional allies in rural and suburban New Jersey on the need to reform New Jersey’s criminal justice system.

JS Publication May 6, 2009

Positive Trends and Best Practices in Criminal Justice Reform: A National Overview

This report reviews more than a decade of drug sentencing reform efforts in the states of Washington, Kansas, Michigan and New York. The positive impact of reducing reliance on incarceration in these states shows the way towards increasing opportunities for effective drug treatment, and safer, healthier communities. The report also includes a brief example of how Kansas produced a net savings to taxpayers of $7.5 million, from FY 2004 to FY2008, through reductions in prison population levels. In addition, Positive Trends surveys strategies from Massachusetts, Arizona and Wisconsin for reducing racial disparity in the criminal justice system. Read more »

JS Publication April 27, 2009

Reducing Recidivism: A Review of Effective State Initiatives

The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition commissioned this report that documents how retraining staff in behavioral intervention methods, implementing system-wide organizational improvements, and restructuring probation and parole supervision around the crime related behaviors allowed Maryland’s PCS program to achieve an amazing 42 percent lower rate of re-arrests for people under supervision. Crime related behaviors were described under Maryland’s PCS program as violence, drug entrepreneurship, drug abuse, domestic abuse, etc. In addition, the report introduces the concept of Justice Reinvestment to Colorado policymakers, profiling efforts in Arizona, Connecticut and Kansas to improve parole and probation supervision outcomes while reducing state correctional costs. The report was presented by Judy Greene and Nestor Rios, joined by Judith Sachwald (former Director of Maryland's Division of Parole and Probation) in a special joint session of Colorado’s House and Senate Judiciary Committees on April 27, 2009. Key members of Colorado Governor Ritter’s staff, the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, government officials and community agency representatives were also present.

JS Update April 27, 2009

Testimony: Alternatives to parole and probation supervision improve safety, reduce costs

In these related documents Judith Greene, Director of Justice Strategies, Néstor M. Ríos, Senior Research Analyst and Director of Operations for Justice Strategies, and Judith Sachwald, independent consultant and former Director of Maryland's Division of Parole and Probation, present their testimony before a joint session of Colorado's House and Senate Judiciary Committees, held April 27, 2009.

Testimony began with Judith Greene addressing the joint committee on Justice Reinvestment, an innovative strategy for reducing spending on corrections, increasing public safety, and improving conditions in those neighborhoods from which large numbers of people are sent to, and return from, prison. Advocates of this strategy urge reductions in prison spending and investment of those savings into the infrastructure and civic institutions of "high risk" neighborhoods to help residents improve the quality of their lives. Ms. Greene testimony offers examples of this strategy at work in Hartford, Connecticut; Wichita, Kansas; and Phoenix, Arizona. Read more »

JS Publication March 23, 2009

Maryland’s Parole Supervision Fee: A Barrier to Re-entry

Judy Greene co-authors this report, published by the Brennan Center for Justice, that examines the imposition and collection of legal financial obligations – fines, supervision fees, court costs, and restitution – in Maryland. The report finds that billing individuals $40 per month for their parole supervision is a penny-wise, pound-foolish policy that undercuts the State of Maryland’s commitment to promoting the reentry of people into society after prison. Implemented nearly two decades ago during a national wave of new supervision fees, the Maryland policy was intended to raise extra revenue for general state functions. However, quantitative research performed by Justice Strategies shows that the fee is largely uncollectible, due to the dire financial situation in which parolees find themselves, and that the “paper debt” it creates does more harm than good.

News Article August 15, 2009

Video: Study says local immigration enforcement is wasting money

Section 287(g) of Federal Immigration Law allowed Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies to train with federal ICE agents in detecting and arresting illegal immigrants.

"These 287(g) officers aren't making us any safer, claims Bob McWhirter, "They're spending most of their time chasing after gardeners and dishwashers - people without criminal records."

A non-profit research group called Justice Strategies says the 287(g) program has "corrupted" criminal justice and is a misuse of funds. The group also calls for a federal investigation.

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