Criminal justice reform: Lessons from the United States is the second major research report from the IPA’s Criminal Justice Project.
The report can be found here.
Criminal justice reform first principles
- Criminal justice reform in the United States has slowed the rate of growth of incarceration, reduced recidivism, and saved money.
- The reform agenda has had bipartisan input and support, with reforms being implemented in many cases with Republican leadership.
- The principles of successful criminal justice reform:
- Community safety is paramount, and can be increased by reducing recidivism and unnecessary incarceration
- The criminal justice system should be subject to fiscal oversight, and the system can be rationalised towards community safety by redirecting money from incarceration to increased community supervision and policing
- Reform is consistent with traditional moral principles like personal responsibility, redemption, and just punishment.
- Punishment reform for nonviolent offenders: increasing the use of community-based corrections and rehabilitation services for those who are of little risk to the community.
- Justice reinvestment: redirecting money slated for incarceration to other parts of the criminal justice system more likely to reduce crime and recidivism.
- Reduce recidivism by emphasising employment: reentry services should include job
training and removing barriers to employment for ex-prisoners.
- Criminal justice programs should be evidence-based, with reliable data collection and performance tracking.
- More than 20 American states have passed mens rea reform, restoring the requirement of culpability to a wide range of criminal actions.
- Regulatory criminal law often functions as a form of red tape with compliance costs passed on to consumers. The number of criminal provisions on the statute books is unknown, but a great many productive activities are potentially subject to criminal sanction.