Leading on Public Safety

4 Governors Share Lessons Learned from Sentencing and Corrections Reform

Leading on Public Safety


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.