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November 19, 2007

New report urging reforms to reduce prison populations

As previewed in this post, the JFA Institute has today released this new report "Unlocking America: Why and How to Reduce America's Prison Population."  This Reuters article about the report provides some highlights.  Here is how it starts:

The number of Americans in prison has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society, researchers said in a report calling for a major justice-system overhaul.  The report released on Monday cites statistics and examples ranging from former vice-presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby to a Florida woman's two-year sentence for throwing a cup of coffee to make its case for reducing the U.S. prison population.

It recommends shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments, more help for released inmates and decriminalizing recreational drugs as steps that would cut the prison population in half, save $20 billion a year and ease social inequality without endangering the public.  "President (George W.) Bush was right," in commuting Libby's perjury sentence this year, the report says.  "But while he was at it, President Bush should have commuted the sentences of hundreds of thousands of Americans who each year have also received prison sentences for crimes that pose little if any danger or harm to our society."

The report was produced by the JFA Institute, a Washington criminal-justice research group, and its authors included eight criminologists from major U.S. public universities. It was funded by the Rosenbaum Foundation and financier George Soros's Open Society Institute.

November 19, 2007 at 09:14 AM | Permalink


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When I downloaded the report there were no figures but the text and tables all appeared to be there.

Posted by: John Neff | Nov 19, 2007 10:21:27 AM

Maybe Americans are just not as well behaved as they were in the past.

Posted by: S.cotus | Nov 19, 2007 1:38:02 PM

I think the states are likely to lead the way on this, mainly because the costs are so high in relation to their overall budgets, and unlike the Feds, they can't just print more money to cover the deficit.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Nov 19, 2007 4:30:48 PM

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