Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Federal Lawmakers: Take Notes!

Don’t miss a chance to dip into this latest release from the Vera Institute:  Reallocating JusticeResources:  A Review of 2011 StateSentencing Trends. It reviews reforms in 14 states, prompted by budgetary concerns but fashioned by policy makers using

a new approach to reform in which bipartisan, multidisciplinary policy groups are using analysis of state population and sentencing data, harnessing the political will emerging from the budget crisis, relying on decades of criminal justice research, and reaching out to key constituencies .... [and] bipartisan stakeholders using evidence-based methods to solve criminal justice problems and save taxpayer dollars. The result is legislation that aims to make more targeted use of incarceration and to invest the cost savings into community programs geared toward reducing recidivism and victimization.
What a grown up approach!  It stands in stark contrast to the old ways of criminal justice policy making, where the crime du jour drove the criminal law du jour.  These new tools and fresh collaborative approaches are proving effective and should stand the test of time, even when the financial crises have faded.

Our federal lawmakers could stand to learn a thing or two from their state counterparts!