Giving Compass' Take:

• According to Urban Institute, 36 states have implemented more constructive criminal justice strategies as a result of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.

• Why is it important to evaluate criminal justice procedures for outdated, potentially harmful policies? How can we be sure the Justice Reinvestment Initiative benefits communities of color proportionately? 

• Read about one way philanthropy has gotten involved in effective criminal justice reform.

Over the past decade, 36 states have engaged in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), taking a hard look at their criminal justice systems to find ways to improve outcomes for justice-involved people and their communities. JRI is a data-driven, consensus-based approach that provides a framework for states to examine their criminal justice systems and enact policy changes to improve public safety.

With technical assistance funded by the initiative, states analyze policies and practices driving their corrections and supervision populations and costs, develop and implement policy solutions to address these drivers, and measure the impact of those changes. States use anticipated or actualized savings from the JRI process to invest in strategies to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.

As the oversight and assessment partner for the initiative, the Urban Institute tracks progress and outcomes in each JRI state through comprehensive assessment reports, in-depth assessments of specific state policies, and cross-state data snapshots used by policymakers and practitioners in states that have participated in JRI and in states considering engaging in justice reinvestment.

Urban’s JRI state summaries explain the challenges that prompted each state to engage in the initiative; highlight state accomplishments, innovations, and impacts; and capture trends in crime rates, recidivism, prison population size, and prison composition.

  • Hawaii transformed its victim restitution system, developing an interagency database to more accurately collect, track, and distribute restitution payments and creating 22 new victim service positions to administer restitution funds more efficiently and effectively.
  • Kansas created a statewide system that integrated services for people on community supervision with behavioral health needs.
  • Louisiana reinvested its savings in recidivism reduction and victim services.

Read the full article about the justice reinvestment initiative at Urban Institute.