Research Examines What Works in State Criminal Justice Policy

Studies look at strategies to reduce incarceration and recidivism

Research Examines What Works in State Criminal Justice Policy

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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Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

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Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest. In the coming months, President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress will tackle a number of environmental, health, public safety, and fiscal and economic issues—nearly all of them complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help solve specific, systemic problems in a nonpartisan fashion, Pew has compiled a series of briefings and recommendations based on our research, technical assistance, and advocacy work across America.

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States of Innovation

Data-driven state policy innovations across America

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Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.

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Less incarceration, Less crime
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Less Incarceration, Less Crime

Crime, Incarceration Down—What's Changed?

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States are finding new ways to get smart on crime and, in the process, changing how America views crime and punishment. After decades of rising prison populations, reforms in 33 states have helped cut the national incarceration rate by 13 percent since 2007. That data point drives this episode’s conversation about the new approaches, informed by research-based sentencing and corrections policies, that are slowing prison growth and helping communities become safer. Host Dan LeDuc speaks with Adam Gelb, director of Pew’s public safety performance project, as well as two leaders in South Carolina—state Senator Gerald Malloy (D), who has led his state’s reform efforts; and Bryan Stirling, state corrections director, who is implementing these transformative changes.