Public Safety Performance Project

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America's prison population skyrocketed over the past few decades, largely as a result of state laws and policies that placed more offenders behind bars and kept them there longer. But proven strategies are available that offer a better public safety return on taxpayer dollars. Pew works with states to advance data-driven, fiscally sound policies and practices in the criminal and juvenile justice systems that protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs.

Our Work

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  • Refocusing the Punishment Paradigm

    Any parent can tell you that timeouts, groundings, and other punishments only go so far in encouraging good behavior. If kids are scolded over and over again, the reprimands can lose their effect: Walls go up, and cooperation goes down. But throw in a few high-fives or thumbs-ups to recognize a nice job clearing the dishes or picking up after a baby sister, and attitudes may brighten—and... Read More

  • Voters in Louisiana and Oklahoma Strongly Favor Alternatives to Incarceration

    Discussions about criminal justice policy typically involve lawmakers, judges, corrections officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys, members of law enforcement, advocates, and criminologists, and their opinions are undoubtedly valuable as states deliberate about what works best. But what about the people whose families and communities are affected by these decisions? What do they have to say... Read More

  • Louisiana Adopts Landmark Criminal Justice Reforms

    Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed a broadly bipartisan package of 10 bills June 15 that aims to reduce crime and incarceration by steering less serious offenders away from prison, strengthening alternatives to imprisonment, and clearing away barriers to success during re-entry. With these changes in sentencing and corrections laws, Louisiana is likely to shed its title of the most incarcerated... Read More


The amount that the national incarceration rate declined from its peak in 2007 to 2015.

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'After the Fact' Podcast

Crime, Incarceration Down—What’s Changed?

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