CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chettiar et al. on Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration

Inimai M. Chettiar LB Eisen Nicole Fortier and Timothy Ross (Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law , Brennan Center for Justice , Brennan Center for Justice and Independent) have posted Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This proposal lays out a policy framework to reform federal criminal justice funding practices. The new approach would reorient criminal justice incentives toward effectively fighting crime while also reducing mass incarceration. It then proposes concrete reforms to the largest nationwide criminal justice grant program. 

The criminal justice system in the United States is vast. As with all complex enterprises, this system is honeycombed with incentives that steer or deter behavior, for good or ill. These incentives can spur creative, modern law enforcement policies. But today’s fiscal incentives often guide them away from sensible policy. The result: a system that, despite some recent reforms, continues on autopilot. 

The proposal would use funds to steer actors toward modern criminal justice practices that reduce mass incarceration while improving public safety. Termed “Success-Oriented Funding” by this report, it uses the power of the purse to promote more effective and just practices by conditioning government dollars on specific, measureable goals. The goals for state and local agencies would drive toward a system that reduces crime and alleviates mass incarceration, while making more efficient use of taxpayer money. It can be applied to all criminal justice funding streams – federal, state, and local.

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