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33 States Reform Criminal Justice Policies Through Justice Reinvestment, PEW, 2016

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A fact sheet from

Nov 2016

33 States Reform Criminal Justice
Policies Through Justice Reinvestment
Overview
Since 2007, 33 states have reformed their sentencing and corrections policies through the Justice Reinvestment
Initiative, a public-private partnership that includes the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance,
The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Crime and Justice Institute, the
Vera Institute of Justice, and other organizations. Although reforms vary from state to state, all aim to improve
public safety and control taxpayer costs by prioritizing prison space for serious and repeat offenders and investing
some of the savings in alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders that are effective at reducing recidivism.
Justice reinvestment policies generally fall into four categories: sentencing laws that instruct courts about how to
sanction convicted defendants; release laws that determine the conditions for offenders’ departure from prison;
supervision laws that guide how those on probation or parole are monitored; and oversight laws that track the
progress of these changes.
In the years since the wave of reforms began, the total state imprisonment rate has ticked downward while crime
rates have continued their long-term decline. At the same time, states that have enacted justice reinvestment
laws expect to save billions of dollars as a result of their reforms.1

How Justice Reinvestment Works

Reinvestment

Improve
public safety
by reducing
recidivism

Contain
prison growth

Free up
financial resources
Fewer
prison beds

© 2016 The Pew Charitable Trusts

Fewer crimes,
fewer revocations

Sentencing and Corrections Reforms in Justice Reinvestment States
2016

Sentencing/pretrial

Policy reform

2015

2014

AK MD UT AL NE

ID

2013

2012

MS OR SD WV KS MO DE GA PA

2011

✔

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

Reclassify/redefine property offenses

✔

✔

✔ ✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

Establish presumptive probation for certain offenses

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

Revise sentencing enhancements

✔

Revise mandatory minimums

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔
✔

✔

Improve pretrial release systems

✔

✔

✔

✔

Establish pre-sentence assessment

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

Release

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

Expand good/earned-time prison credits/re-entry leave

✔

✔

✔

Establish/expand geriatric or medical parole

✔

✔

Establish/expand for earned discharge

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔ ✔

Community corrections

Authorize administrative jail sanctions

✔

Authorize graduated responses for violations

✔

Cap revocation time

✔

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔

✔

✔

✔ ✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

Require evidence-based practices

✔

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔

✔

Reduce probation terms

✔

✔

Improve interventions for substance abuse, mental health, CBT, etc.

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔

✔

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔
✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

4

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

3

✔

✔

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

15

✔

✔

✔

✔

15

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

10

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔ ✔

✔

✔

Establish oversight council

✔

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔
✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

16

✔

9

✔

✔

22

✔
✔

✔

✔

Improve restitution/victim notification systems

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

20
7

✔

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔

14

✔

✔

✔

Establish leadership/board qualification requirements

12

✔

✔

✔

15

✔

8

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

17

✔

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

7
3

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

4

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

Require fiscal impact statements

Establish measures to streamline/improve efficiency of system

7

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔ ✔

✔

8

✔

✔

✔

Reform/pilot specialty courts (HOPE, drug courts, etc.)

Sustainability

✔

✔ ✔ ✔

✔

© 2016 The Pew Charitable Trusts

✔

✔

Require/improve risk-needs assessment

See table notes on following page.

✔

✔

Establish/improve electronic monitoring

Require data collection/performance measurement

✔
✔

✔

Establish mandatory re-entry supervision

✔

✔
✔

Authorize performance incentive funding

8

5

Authorize risk-reduction sentencing

✔

Total
11

✔

✔

✔

Revise parole hearing/decision/eligibility standards

VT KS NV TX

✔

✔

Revise drug-free school zone

RI

13

✔
✔

WI AZ PA CT

2007

✔

✔

Revise sentencing guidelines/establish sentencing commission

IL

2008

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔

Reduce crack-powder cocaine disparity

✔
✔

✔
✔

2009

HI OK AR KY AL LA NC OH SC NH MI

Reclassify/redefine drug offenses

✔ ✔

2010

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

✔

5

✔

18
6

✔

3

✔
✔

✔

✔

✔
✔

22

✔
✔

✔

15

✔

10

✔

12

Notes: The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice
Assistance. Intensive technical assistance to the states is provided by Pew, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Crime and
Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice, the Vera Institute of Justice, and other partners.
A bipartisan, interbranch working group developed each state’s policy reforms based on an analysis of the state’s specific criminal justice
challenges. The number of reforms in a state does not correspond with the impact on prison populations, costs, or recidivism.
Reforms reflected in the chart were enacted through legislation or executive or court order during each state’s justice reinvestment process.
Similar reforms that states may have adopted outside the justice reinvestment process are not included in this document.
Reforms were enacted in Georgia in 2012 and 2013; in Louisiana in 2011 and 2012; and in Connecticut in 2004 and 2008.
For more details about policies, impacts, and reinvestments, see individual state pages at pewtrusts.org/publicsafety.

Endnote
1	

Urban Institute, Justice Reinvestment Initiative State Assessment Report (January 2014), http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/
publication-pdfs/412994-Justice-Reinvestment-Initiative-State-Assessment-Report.PDF.

For further information, please visit:
pewtrusts.org/publicsafety

Contact: Tom Lalley, communications
Email: tlalley@pewtrusts.org
Project website: pewtrusts.org/publicsafety

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical
approach to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life.

 

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