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Fiscal Policy

As the federal government and states across the country struggle to balance budgets in these challenging economic times, now is the time to reconsider the most broken of these institutions: the criminal justice system.  Sixty-eight billion dollars a year are spent on a system that destabilizes communities and derails the lives of individuals without improving public safety. Refocusing spending on community-based, front-end solutions can address the problems that lead to contact with the criminal justice system and reduce expensive incarceration.

Here you can find JPI reports, briefs and factsheets on government spending and how we can more effectively invest in smart policies that support communities.

The Right Investment? Corrections Spending in Baltimore City
According to a new report released today by the Justice Policy Institute and the Prison Policy Initiative, Maryland taxpayers are spending $5 million or more to incarcerate people from each of about…
Sticker Shock: Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration
Our new report, Sticker Shock: Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration, provides estimates of the overall costs resulting from the negative outcomes associated with youth…
Billion Dollar Divide: Virginia's Sentencing, Corrections and Criminal Justice Challenge
Billion Dollar Divide points to racial disparities, skewed fiscal priorities, and missed opportunities for improvements through proposed legislation, and calls for reforms to the commonwealth ’…
Virginia's Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair
Virginia's Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair points to reforms that, if implemented, would result in relief for Virginians directly impacted by the justice system and taxpayers alike.
BAIL REFORM UPDATE 2013: Pretrial Services Programs Refined and Expanded Their Reach, while the Bail Industry Continued to Fight Forfeiture Collection and Non-financial Release
This brief provides an update on pretrial and bail reform over the last year as a follow up to JPI's 2012 Bail Month Report Series.
Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut: How Collaboration and Commitment Have Improved Public Safety and Outcomes for Youth
Juvenile Justice Reform in Connecticut highlights the past two decades of Connecticut’s successful efforts to improve responses to youth who engage in delinquent behavior and to reduce the…
Two New Reports Show Juvenile Confinement Reform in Five States
Removing young people who engage in delinquent behavior from their homes and communities and incarcerating them, is no longer the status quo in five states, say two new reports by JPI.
JPI Bail Report Series
JPI published three reports on the U.S. bail system in an effort to raise public awareness on an issue that is not often highlighted -- and one that most people do not fully understand.
For Better or For Profit: How the Bail Bonding Industry Stands in the Way of Fair and Effective Pretrial Justice
Second in series on bail recommends the U.S. should end for-profit bail bonding; promote and further institutionalize pretrial services; and require greater transparency within the industry.
Bail Fail: Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Using Money for Bail
JPI's newest analysis shows that the practice of using money to decide release while awaiting trial unfairly impacts low-income communities.
Behind the Times: President Obama's FY2013 Budget
Despite the fact that prison populations have fallen for the first time in 40 years, President Obama’s FY2013 budget released this week devotes more than $27 billion to prison and policing.
Federal Folly: FY2012 U.S. Department of Justice Budget Gorges on Prisons, Gouges Juvenile Justice
The proposed 2012 budget for the U.S. Department of Justice puts locking people up ahead of reducing delinquency, protecting youth, and improving outcomes for the formerly incarcerated.
System Overload: The Costs of Under-Resourcing Public Defense
The overburdening of U.S. public defense systems that serve millions of people annually is jeopardizing the fairness of our justice system.
Doing the Same Thing and Expecting Different Results
The President’s proposed FY2012 budget will do little to reduce the burden of incarceration on our country or improve community safety in a lasting and meaningful way.
Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Spending
A review of the $2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds spent on the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.
Money Well Spent: How Positive Social Investments Will Reduce Incarceration Rates, Improve Public Safety, and Promote the Well-Being of Communities.
More people in the United States are being arrested and incarcerated even though crime has dropped, with the consequences of these policies being felt most by low-income communities.
Fact Sheet on The Obama Administration’s 2011 Budget: More Policing, Prisons, and Punitive Policies
Justice advocates disturbed by proposed $29 billion for ineffective and unfair policies.
Pruning Prisons: How Cutting Corrections Can Save Money and Protect Public Safety
Federal, state and local governments are spending a combined $68 billion dollars a year on a system that does not definitively improve public safety, but, instead, destabilizes communities, harms…
Fact Sheet on FY2010 Department of Justice Budget
The President’s proposed FY2010 Department of Justice (DOJ) budget asks for $26.7 billion. The budget reduces spending on juvenile justice programs, while increasing budgets for law…
Cutting Correctly in Maryland
State officials across the nation are struggling to come to terms with the largest state budget shortfall in 50 years.
Community Corrections in Ohio-Cost Savings and Program Effectiveness
Commuity corrections programs are generally cheaper, because they entail shorter periods of control, but are also thought to be more effective than residential prisons and jails in reducing future…
Cellblocks or Classrooms?: The Funding of Higher Education and Corrections and its Impact on African American Men
The mild recession that began in 2001, aggravated by the events of September 11th, put state revenue into a tailspin in 2002, resulting in a $40 billion budget shortfall between what states planned…
Cutting Correctly: New Prison Policies for Times of Fiscal Crisis
It cost nearly $40 billion to imprison approximately two million state and local inmates in 2000, up from $5billion in 1978. Twenty-four billion of that was spent on incarceration for non-violent…
New York State of Mind: Higher Education vs. Prison Funding in the Empire State, 1988-1998
Last spring, just days before New Yorkers were to mark the 25th anniversary of the state’s Rockefeller Drug Laws - a mandatory sentencing scheme that requires long prison terms for the…
Trading Classrooms for Cell Blocks: Destructive Policies Eroding D.C. Communities
While public higher education funding plummets to record lows, spending for corrections is at an all-time high. The nation's capital is funding prisons at the expense of higher education and the…

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