Leading on Public Safety

4 Governors Share Lessons Learned from Sentencing and Corrections Reform


After nearly four decades of explosive growth in prison populations and spending, more and more states are taking important steps to rein in the size and cost of their corrections systems.

When it comes to public safety, leadership matters. In the past seven years, more than a dozen governors have spearheaded research-based sentencing and corrections reforms that slow the growth of prison costs while reducing reoffense rates and keeping communities safer.

Known as “justice reinvestment,” this approach is rooted in research about what works in corrections reform and is tailored to each state’s unique challenges. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently spoke with four governors—Mike Beebe of Arkansas, Nathan Deal of Georgia, Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota—about why they believe justice reinvestment is right for their states and about the challenges they overcame to achieve consensus and enact policies that provide a better public safety return on state corrections dollars.

The front facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.

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.


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.