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Project

Public Safety Performance Project

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.

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Article

What Drove Expansion of the Corrections System, and How Can It Be Safely Reversed?

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Article

Since 2006, Pew has conducted national and state research chronicling the expansion of the American corrections system and the policies and practices that fueled the growth. The reports in this collection document the high cost to taxpayers and the low public safety returns of incarcerating many lower-level offenders. They also establish frameworks for reducing recidivism, moderating the time that offenders serve in prison, and improving the performance of other parts of the criminal justice system.

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Article

Research Examines What Works in State Criminal Justice Policy

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Most criminal justice research focuses on the effectiveness of programs that seek to reduce recidivism by changing offender attitudes and behavior. Pew’s research, in contrast, has targeted the laws and practices that control who goes to prison and for how long. The publications in this collection evaluate policies that have been frequent components of state reforms and identify several that are effective at reducing incarceration and reoffending rates simultaneously.

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Article

What Motivates Leaders in Criminal Justice Reform?

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Article

Effective sentencing and corrections reform requires leadership from the highest levels of government, people in local communities, and everywhere in between. This collection includes interviews with influential leaders who have played important roles in their states’ reform efforts.

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Article

Community Corrections Strategies Reduce Recidivism

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For every person in prison, roughly two people are serving their sentences on probation or parole at a fraction of the cost of incarceration.  Over the past 20 years, corrections professionals and researchers have identified a range of successful, community-based strategies that reduce the rate at which these individuals return to prison for new offenses or for breaking the rules of their supervision. These publications summarize some of the approaches that work to change the behavior of offenders and of the system that supervises them.

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The Public Strongly Supports Cost-Effective Alternatives to Incarceration

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The Public Strongly Supports Cost-Effective Alternatives to Incarceration

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Our Work

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13%

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The amount that the national incarceration rate declined from its peak in 2007 to 2015. Read More
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Louisiana corrections reform
Podcast

Reform in the Most Incarcerated State

Louisiana has the highest imprisonment rate in the U.S., but that may change as a result of comprehensive criminal justice reform passed this summer.

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Podcast

Louisiana has the highest imprisonment rate in the U.S., but that may change as a result of comprehensive criminal justice reform passed this summer. Through a tremendous bipartisan effort, state leaders passed a package of bills that aims to reduce crime and incarceration through innovative, evidence-based means. That includes steering less serious offenders away from prison, strengthening alternatives to incarceration, and removing barriers to success during re-entry to society. Terry Schuster of Pew's public safety performance project speaks with host Dan LeDuc about why this change was important and what its impact could be. For more information on public safety, listen to the episode “Less Incarceration, Less Crime” to find out what two leaders in South Carolina did to slow prison growth and make communities safer.

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