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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 AZFamily.com 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.

News Article Los Angeles Times February 26, 2009

Police not focusing on dangerous illegal immigrants, study says

Police officers empowered by a federal program to enforce immigration laws are instead arresting day laborers and street vendors, the report finds.

A federal program that empowers local police to enforce U.S. immigration laws has failed in its promise to target illegal immigrants who pose a threat to public safety or national security, according to a study released today.

Instead of focusing on serious criminals, local law enforcement officers are arresting "day laborers, street vendors, people who are driving around with broken taillights," said Judith Greene, coauthor of the study by Justice Strategies, a New York-based nonprofit research organization focusing on humane and cost- effective approaches to criminal justice and immigration law enforcement.

At the same time, the costly enforcement program is diverting resources from local police and sheriff departments, the authors wrote. Many of the agreements are in cities where the crime rates are lower than the national average but had Latino population growth higher than the national average, they said.

There were more than 65 agreements between federal immigration officials and local law enforcement agencies across the nation and more than 950 officers had been trained by federal authorities as of late 2008, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Read more »

News Article Arizona Republic February 26, 2009

Experts call ICE program used by Arpaio a failure

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's continuing and controversial crackdown on illegal immigration and the federal program that lets him identify and arrest undocumented immigrants is a financial and public-safety failure, according to a new report.