Prison experts brief Hawaii lawmakers about Reform

Prison experts brief Hawaii lawmakers about reform

Published 11:35 a.m., Tuesday, April 12, 2011

 HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers are hearing from legal experts about a national project designed to increase public safety, reduce prison spending and create alternate criminal justice strategies.

Two people from the Department of Justice‘s Justice Reinvestment Initiative will brief state legislators Tuesday.

Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero said he hopes to be able to reverse a national trend of imprisoning more residents at increasing costs.

He said more than 2.4 million Americans are now in prisons and jails, costing the country more than $70 billion.

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative uses extensive collection and analysis of crime statistics, correction procedures and resources to help reduce corrections spending and redirect savings to alternate criminal justice strategies.

Justice Reinvestment Initiative

On February 8, 2011, Congressman Frank Wolf announced the release of The National Summit on Justice Reinvestment and Public Safety: Addressing Recidivism, Crime, and Corrections Spending by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center; Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Center on the States; BJA; and the Public Welfare Foundation.
Read the press release.

What is Justice Reinvestment?
Justice reinvestment is a data-driven approach to reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest savings in strategies designed to increase public safety. The purpose of justice reinvestment is to manage and allocate criminal justice populations more cost-effectively, generating savings that can be reinvested in evidence-based strategies that increase public safety while holding offenders accountable. States and localities engaging in justice reinvestment collect and analyze data on drivers of criminal justice populations and costs, identify and implement changes to increase efficiencies, and measure both the fiscal and public safety impacts of those changes.

More background on justice reinvestment.

The BJA Justice Reinvestment Initiative
The Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) was launched by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, in coordination with justice reinvestment and related efforts supported by independent organizations such as the Pew Center on the States. The purpose of JRI is to provide technical assistance and competitive financial support to states, counties, cities, and tribal authorities that are either currently engaged in justice reinvestment or are well positioned to undertake such work as either a Phase I or Phase II site:

  • Phase I sites will receive intensive, onsite technical assistance to start the justice reinvestment process, which involves engaging leaders and key stakeholders, conducting a comprehensive analysis of criminal justice data, and identifying strategies to reduce costs and increase public safety. BJA will accept letters of interest from potential Phase I sites on a rolling basis until May 13, 2011.
  • Phase II sites will receive both targeted technical assistance and funding to support the implementation of justice reinvestment strategies. Sites that apply to be Phase II sites must have already completed all of the steps associated with Phase I (see JRI Site Selection Criteria). BJA will accept letters of interest from potential Phase II sites on a rolling basis until May 13, 2011.

How to Participate in JRI
State, local, and tribal governments interested in participating in JRI must:

  • Commit to bipartisan, interagency interest and partnerships in justice reinvestment.
  • Provide access to criminal justice data.
  • Provide in-kind contributions to support the data analysis, policy recommendations, implementation, and measurement phases of the project.

The following organizations will be working to select and support JRI sites.

  • The Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center will serve as the Oversight, Coordination, Outcome, and Assessment provider, working with BJA, the Pew Center on the States, and the technical assistance providers to select JRI sites, set specific performance measures, track implementation, and assess the impact of JRI.
  • The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Vera Institute of Justice will provide technical assistance and support to states selected as JRI sites. The Pew Center on the States will also provide technical assistance and support to JRI states, both independently and in coordination with the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Vera Institute of Justice.

The Center for Effective Public Policy and the Crime and Justice Institute of the Community Resources for Justice will provide technical assistance and support to localities and tribes selected as JRI sites.

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