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NSA/Pew Public Safety Performance Project

New Partnership for National Sheriffs’ Association

The National Sheriffs’ Association is now partnering with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP). PSPP and its partners provide nonpartisan research, analysis, and assistance to states interested in exploring sentencing and corrections reforms in the criminal and juvenile justice system that will reduce both reoffending rates and prison spending. The project does not advocate preset solutions, but rather collaborates in partnership with state policy leaders and criminal justice stakeholders to develop data-driven policy options based on analysis of the state’s particular challenges and lessons learned from other states. Nearly 25 states have worked with PSPP and its partners to develop policies that hold offenders accountable, improve public safety and control corrections costs. NSA and PSPP look forward to collaborating nationally on data-driven solutions that will achieve better returns for the country’s public safety dollars.  More information on PSPP can be found on their website.  


Sheriffs and Victims Unite for Justice Reinvestment
Justice Reinvestment is designed to hold offenders accountable, control taxpayer costs, and keep communities safe – goals that sheriffs and victims heartily endorse. Sheriff Craig Webre (Lafourche Parish, LA), Chair of NSA’s Crime Victim Services Committee, and Anne Seymour, National Crime Victim Advocate, discuss how Justice Reinvestment begins with the gathering of data to identify problems in the criminal justice system and then engages all branches of government and outside stakeholders to develop practical, evidence-based policies that reduce corrections spending and direct savings into programs proven to improve public safety. Click here to read article.
Effective Sentencing and Corrections Reform: Sheriffs Getting Involved
Sheriff Kevin Thom, Pennington County, discusses his experience in South Dakota that showed him there is an effective, proven process to help states reduce crime, hold offenders accountable and control prison costs – and that sheriffs must play a role in such efforts. Click here to read more.
Kentucky and Hawaii Adopt Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reforms: In July, Hawaii adopted a comprehensive set of juvenile justice policy reforms that will halve the number of youth held in the state’s secure facility and improve public safety by redirecting much of the savings to proven strategies for helping troubled youth move toward productive, law-abiding lives. To learn more, read here: In May, Kentucky adopted comprehensive juvenile justice reforms through Senate Bill 200. These reforms are expected to save Kentucky taxpayers as much as $24 million over five years while protecting public safety, holding juvenile offenders accountable for their actions, and improving outcomes for these youth and their families. To learn more, read here:
Three States Begin Process of Reforming Their Sentencing and Corrections Systems: This summer, Nebraska, Washington and Alabama launched the Justice Reinvestment Initiative with the assistance of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment is a data-driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism. The CSG Justice Center will assist these states by reviewing their sentencing and corrections systems and developing policy recommendations to improve public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs. To learn more, read here:
New Pew Report Reveals that More State Prisoners Are Being Released Without Supervision
In 2012, more than 1 in 5 state inmates maxed out their prison terms and were released to their communities without any supervision, undermining efforts to reduce reoffending rates and improve public safety. A new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision, found that despite growing evidence and a broad consensus that the period immediately following release from prison is critical for preventing recidivism, a large and increasing number of offenders are maxing out—serving their entire sentences behind bars—and returning to their communities without supervision or support. These inmates do not have any legal conditions imposed on them, are not monitored by parole or probation officers, and do not receive the assistance that can help them lead crime-free lives. Yet new research suggests that for many offenders, shorter prison terms followed by supervision have the potential to reduce both recidivism and overall corrections costs.  
In the past few years, policymakers in at least eight states took steps to ensure that offenders are supervised after release from prison. Among the measures: mandating a period of post-prison supervision, carving that time out of the prison term rather than adding it at the end, improving parole decision-making, tailoring the intensity and duration of supervision to each offender’s public safety risk level, and strengthening community corrections through reinvestment in evidence-based practices. This new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts examines the rise in max-outs and its policy origins, looks at states that are leading on the use of post-prison supervision to protect public safety and reduce costs, and provides a framework to help other states use evidence to inform release and supervision decisions.
To learn more, please visit the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts here.
Mississippi Enacts Legislation to Improve Public Safety, Ensure Certainty in Sentencing, and Control Corrections Costs
Between 1983 and 2013, Mississippi’s prison population grew by 300 percent to more than 22,400 inmates; without a change in policy, the state projected that the incarcerated population would grow by 1,951 inmates at a cost of $266 million over 10 years. With the assistance of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Mississippi conducted an extensive review of data which revealed that nonviolent offenders and those revoked for probation or parole violations accounted for a large and growing share of Mississippi’s prison population. In addition, a 28 percent increase in sentence lengths from 2002 to 2012 led to longer average prison stays, even while the percent of the sentence served by Mississippi offenders dropped by 22 percent. Finally, courts had few alternatives at their disposal for lower-level nonviolent offenders. In response, state policymakers developed recommendations aimed at refocusing prison space on violent and career criminals, strengthening community supervision, and ensuring certainty and clarity in sentencing. These recommendations were codified in H.B. 585, which passed with large bipartisan majorities in both legislative chambers and was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant on March 31, 2014. This legislation is expected to avert all of Mississippi’s projected prison growth over the coming decade, saving taxpayers $266 million in prison expenditures, and restoring certainty and clarity to Mississippi’s sentencing system. The savings achieved will allow corrections dollars to be redirected into community supervision and programs proved to reduce recidivism. More information on Mississippi’s reforms can be found here.
Idaho Adopts a Public Safety Package that Will Reduce Recidivism and Contain the Cost of Corrections
This past March, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law a bill aimed at improving public safety, reducing recidivism and slowing growth in Idaho’s prison population. The legislation was unanimously approved by both the Idaho House and Senate and received widespread support from criminal justice system stakeholders. With the assistance of the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Idaho identified three challenges confronting its criminal justice system: (1) revolving prison doors, with offenders getting out only to reoffend and return; (2) inefficient use of prison space; and (3) insufficient oversight to ensure that state-funded recidivism-reduction strategies were yielding the intended outcomes. The bill includes provisions for strengthening probation and parole supervision practices and programs to reduce recidivism; structuring parole to make more productive use of prison space; tailoring sanctions for violations of supervision; and assessing, tracking, and ensuring the success of recidivism-reduction strategies. If implemented appropriately, Senate Bill 1357 will help the state avert up to $288 million in new prison spending over the next five years. Of those savings, $33 million is recommended for reinvestment back into probation and parole officer training, more officers to supervise probationers and parolees, community-based substance use treatment, and improvements to the victim restitution collection process. Read more about Idaho’s recent efforts here.

National Justice Reinvestment Summit

On November 17-19, 2014, policy makers, experts, and other key decision makers from more than 30 states met to discuss the past, present, and future of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). The event was co-hosted by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center. In case you missed it: Watch the summit’s plenary sessions here. Learn why half of the states have used the data-driven justice reinvestment process and hear from Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, and Van Jones about building national momentum for these reforms.

Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice Announces Policy Recommendations
On November 12, 2014, Utah’s Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) announced a comprehensive set of data-driven recommendations for the state’s upcoming legislative session that will reduce recidivism, hold offenders accountable and save taxpayers an estimated $542 million by averting almost all of Utah's projected prison growth over the next two decades.
CCJJ's proposed recommendations would:
  • Focus prison beds on serious and violent offenders
  • Strengthen probation and parole supervision
  • Improve and expand reentry and treatment services
  • Support local corrections systems
  • Ensure oversight and accountability

West Virginia Task Force on Juvenile Justice Releases Policy Recommendations
On December 11, 2014, the West Virginia Intergovernmental Juvenile Justice Task Force produced a set of policy recommendations that, if adopted, are projected to reduce the number of youth in state-funded residential juvenile justice facilities by at least 40% by 2020, averting otherwise anticipated costs of $59 million over the next five years that should be used for reinvestment in evidence-based accountability and treatment programs. These options would keep families intact while improving long term outcomes for youth and communities. The recommendations include: Providing early interventions and effective community supervision options; Improving youth and system accountability by increasing data collection and sharing, expanding options for holding youth accountable and addressing the issue of disproportionate minority contact, and; Focusing residential beds on higher risk youth while reinvesting savings into evidence-based community options.
South Dakota Releases Plans to Improve Juvenile Justice System
The South Dakota Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JJRI) Working Group has submitted to state leaders a comprehensive set of data-driven policy recommendations for the current legislative session that will increase public safety, effectively hold juvenile offenders accountable, and reduce juvenile justice costs. The proposed recommendations would accomplish those goals by: Focusing expensive residential placements on youth who are a risk to public safety; Preventing deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system for youth committing lower level offenses; Improving outcomes by expanding access to evidence-based community interventions, and; Ensuring the quality and sustainability of reforms.

The sponsor of a bill that would make drug possession a misdemeanor in Utah describes it as “an epic shift” in the criminal justice system, which is not an overstatement given the magnitude of change it would bring. The proposal carries a lot of upside as a more humane and fiscally responsible way to deal with a problem that hasn’t gone away after a generation-long war on drugs. March 2, 2015, Editorial


Republicans Embrace Prison Reform, and Their Liberal Counterparts

In Utah's Capitol, liberal ACLU leaders stood next to conservative state lawmakers cheering on a bill that would detour drug addicts from prison cells to treatment programs. It also would reduce criminal penalties for getting caught with an illicit substance. The Salt Lake City Tribune (, March 25, 2015)



West Virginia Passes Juvenile Justice Reform Legislation

West Virginia Governor Tomblin signed into law on April 2nd a set of policies designed to protect public safety; improve outcomes for youth, families, and communities; enhance accountability for juvenile offenders and state agencies; and contain taxpayer costs by prioritizing resources for the most serious offenders. The reforms are expected to reduce the number of youth in residential placements by at least 16 percent, saving the state at least $20 million over the next five years. The new law is based on policy recommendations from the bipartisan Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice, which was established in June 2014 after passage of criminal justice reinvestment legislation the previous year. The 30-member task force conducted a comprehensive analysis of West Virginia’s juvenile court and correctional systems to determine how state resources were being used and whether taxpayers were getting a sufficient public safety return on their investments. To learn more, read here.


Growing research shows that locking up lower-level juvenile offenders fails to produce better outcomes than community-based supervision and programming. The high cost and often poor results of juvenile confinement have led states to expand to alternative approaches. 


Pew Publications and Releases

This brief provides an evaluation of a Louisiana law that limits the time for which offenders can be revoked to prison for technical violations of supervision conditions. The brief provides fresh evidence that shorter prison terms for certain offenders can cut taxpayer costs while maintaining or even improving public safety.
This brief summarizes the public safety performance project’s technical assistance work in Oregon and analyzes the impact of the reforms one year after implementation.
Three judges explain why they championed juvenile justice reform efforts in their states.
In a nationwide poll conducted in 2014 by a bipartisan team of pollsters, the Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies, voters say what they expect from the juvenile justice system.
State leaders from Georgia, Hawaii, and Kentucky discuss the shifting landscape in juvenile justice and how they enacted data-driven and fiscally sound policies that protect public safety, improve outcomes for youths, and contain correctional costs.
The number of state prison inmates is expected to rise 3 percent by 2018, according to projections collected from 34 states by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Thirty-two states reduced both their imprisonment and crime rates over the past five years, according to a Pew analysis of crime data released by the FBI on Monday, November 10.