The National Sheriffs Association (NSA) has adopted two resolutions to support the use of data-driven policies in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The organization, which represents more than 3,000 sheriffs in all 50 states, endorsed reforms that prioritize costly incarceration for serious offenders while expanding alternatives for lower-level offenders. Both resolutions are aimed at getting a better public safety return on taxpayer dollars.
Regarding criminal justice, the NSA said “it is important for offenders to receive just punishment, but the quantity of time that convicted offenders serve under any form of correctional supervision must be balanced with the quality of evidence-based assessment, treatment, programming, and supervision they receive that can change their criminal behavior and thinking and reduce the likelihood that they will commit future crimes.”
On policies for juvenile offenders, the sheriffs said research “has shown that, in general, neither out-of-home placements nor longer lengths of stay in residential facilities reduce recidivism better than other interventions or sanctions.” They also noted that “approaches that effectively address behaviors of juvenile status and delinquent offenders by increasing options for community-based programs can improve outcomes while reducing the use and cost of court resources and out-of-home facilities.”
Since 2007, more than half the states have enacted sentencing and corrections reforms that are consistent with the NSA resolutions. Several states have maintained this momentum, building on successes in criminal justice with major reforms to their juvenile justice systems.