The Sentencing Project recently released a report examining the history and impact of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). The JRI is an evidence based approach to improve public safety, reduce incarcerations and reinvest savings to enhance neighborhoods. So far, it has supported 27 states in the last decade. While the JRI has made progress, the report, “Ending Mass Incarceration [PDF],” offers a note of caution:
Our analysis, described in the pages that follow, lead us to the conclusion that while JRI has played a significant role in softening the ground and moving the dial on mass incarceration reform, it is not an unmitigated success story; the picture is complex and nuanced.
It argues that the expansion of correctional control has not occurred accidentally, but as a result of deliberate policy choices that have increased the number of people entering the system and how long they stay. Although there have been some problems with the JRI since it was originally catalyzed, The Sentencing Project is enthusiastic about where it will go from here.
The report emphasizes the impact that JRI could have moving forward through four recommendations:
- Reduce all forms of incarceration and correctional supervision (probation/parole).
- Reinvest in high incarceration communities.
- Involve stakeholders and non-governmental entities at the state and local levels throughout the planning, legislative, implementation and reinvestment process.
- Create a multi-year plan and course for implementation and evaluation beyond short-term legislative or policy fixes.
Many feel that the JRI’s initial purpose, “To make state government accountable to impoverished communities,” cannot be forgotten. The Sentencing Project is confident that with their recommendations, JRI states will continue to be trailblazers for the states it supports. For additional information, the full report is available as a free download: "Ending Mass Incarceration: Charting a New Justice Reinvestment" [PDF].
Jaclyn Chelf is a Digital and Social Media Intern at Prichard Communications. She is graduating in June, 2013 from the University of Oregon where she had been studying Journalism, Public Relations and Communication studies. She loves warm weather, the outdoors and her dog.
Updated: April 22 2013