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Bryce Peterson

“States across the country are increasingly seeking cost-effective and evidence-based strategies to enhance public safety and manage their corrections and supervision populations. One such effort emerged in the mid-2000s, when several states experimented with a criminal justice reform effort built on a foundation of bipartisan collaboration and data-driven policy development. This model—justice reinvest-ment—yielded promising results, supporting cost-effective, evidence-based policies projected to generate meaningful savings for states while maintaining a focus on public safety. In response to these early successes, Congress appropriated funds to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to launch the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) in 2010 in partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew). The initiative formalized the process and provided both financial support and in-kind technical assistance for states to engage in this work. This report describes the JRI model and the experiences and interim outcomes in 17 participating JRI states: Arkansas, Delaware, Geor¬gia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Caro¬lina, South Dakota, and West Virginia” (p. 1). Sections following an executive summary include: introduction; the JRI Model described; population and cost drivers and responses; projected and preliminary outcomes; reinvestment; challenges; and concluding remarks and implications. The appendix provides case studies of the 17 participating states.

Justice Reinvestment Initiative State Assessment Report Cover

Nearly three million children under the age of 18 have a parent in jail or prison, and millions more have experienced their parents being arrested. Due to their parent’s criminal justice involvement, a growing body of research indicates that these children often experience trauma, family disruption, and the loss of their primary caregiver, which can lead to financial hardship, residential instability, and an array of emotional and behavioral problems.

In response, several community-based organizations and government agencies across the country have implemented programs and practices aimed at reducing this trauma and mitigating the potentially harmful outcomes associated with parental criminal justice involvement. The Urban Institute and the National Institute of Corrections hosted a live webinar highlighting these promising and innovative programs and practices.

This webinar is four sessions:

  1. Parental Arrest Protocols—"Focuses on protocols that police departments can use to manage the arrest of a parent to minimize the trauma and harm to their children";
  2. Family Impact Statements—"Focuses on how probation departments can use family impact statements in their presentence investigation reports to account for the needs of family and children";
  3. Family-Focused Jail Services—"Focuses on a few family-focused programs and services that jail administrators can offer to parents in their jails to help them stay connected to their family and children";
  4. and Successful Collaboration—"Provides information on how to collaboratively think about and address the many issues facing children of incarcerated parents, using a diverse group of interested stakeholders".

Presentation slides for these sessions are provided. Access is also provided to four publications that complement the webinar sessions and aim to guide criminal justice organizations and stakeholders in developing and implementing promising practices for children of justice-involved parents. The products include three toolkits on parental arrest policies, family-focused jail programs, and family impact statements, as well as a framework document that synthesizes what we have learned about promising practices and provides information about the context surrounding children and their families.

The products provide key challenges and recommendations for the field and help organizations and stakeholders

  1. understand the importance, scope, and effect of the issues facing children of justice-involved parents;
  2. learn how to talk about these issues with their constituencies; and
  3. appreciate how changes in practice can make meaningful differences by strengthening the relationship between children and their parents and reducing the trauma children experience when their parents are arrested, detained, and sentenced.
Practices for Children of Incarcerated Parents: Arrest through Pre-Adjudication [Webinar] cover

“This brief summarizes the efforts of states involved in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), a program designed to identify and implement cost-efficient, evidence-based criminal justice reforms. To do so, jurisdictions use data analysis to identify criminal justice population and cost drivers and then develop policy options to reduce those drivers.” Correctional population and cost drivers include: parole and probation revocations; sentencing policies and practices; insufficient and ineffective community supervision and support; and parole system processing delays and denials. Strategies for reducing the costs related to these challenges include: risk and needs assessment; expansion or improvement of problem-solving courts; intermediate and graduated sanctions; increased use of evidence-based practices; expanded incentives, such as good time and earned credits; penalty changes; streamlines parole processes and expanded parole eligibility; expansion and increase in community-based treatment programs; mandatory supervision requirements; and accountability measures. The principle ways cost savings, resulting from improved justice systems, are reinvested are: reinvestment of tangible savings—funding based on the amount of costs that have been saved; up-front reinvestment--funding based on projected future savings; and reallocation—funding based on redirecting existing monies.

he Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Experiences from the States Cover

"The federal prison system is by far the nation’s single largest jailer, with a total of 205,795 inmates at the beginning of October 2015. That’s roughly 50,000 more people in custody than in the second-largest prison jurisdiction, Texas. Though the states collectively incarcerate the majority of people in prison in the United States—nearly 1.4 million as of 2014—any conversation about mass incarceration must consider the federal prison population. The growth, size, and cost of the federal system jeopardize the safety and security of inmates and staff, restrict the ability to provide programs designed to reduce recidivism, and crowd out other fiscal priorities … [this Forecaster] uses Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) data and incorporates trends and recent changes in the federal criminal justice system to forecast population trends and the impact of changes to rates of admission or lengths of stay. This tool is designed to highlight the unique drivers of the federal prison population and the types of policy changes that will be necessary to reduce the BOP population. All numbers reported in this feature (unless otherwise noted) are from the end of fiscal year 2014, and all projections are of impacts through 2023.

The Prison Population Forecaster // Federal Prison Population Cover

"Roughly 2.2 million people are locked up in prison or jail; 7 million are under correctional control, which includes parole and probation; and more than $80 billion is spent on corrections every year. Research has shown that policy changes over the past four decades have put more people in prison and kept them there longer, leading to exponential growth in the prison population even while crime has dropped to historic lows. But despite widespread agreement that mass incarceration is a serious problem, the national conversation is light on details about what it will take to achieve meaningful and sustainable reductions … To advance the policy conversation, decisionmakers and the public need to know the impact of potential policy changes. Our Prison Population Forecaster can estimate the effect, by state, of policies that aim to reduce prison admissions and length of stay for the most common types of offenses. The tool currently uses data from 15 states, representing nearly 40 percent of the national prison population, to forecast population trends and project the impact of changes on rates of admission or lengths of stay in prison … This forecasting tool paves the way for a more productive conversation about the need for tailored reforms that address the unique drivers of mass incarceration in each jurisdiction" (p.1). This website provides interactive access to these statistics comprising the Forecaster: select one of 15 states or all states; select offense/admission type—violent, nonviolent, property, drug, revocations, and all offenses; select policy change—reduce new admissions, and reduce length of stay; and state percent reduction—reduce by 5%, 10%, 25%, and 50%. The article looks at: the reforms needed to reduce mass incarceration at the state level; rethinking who goes to prison and how long they stay; and whether there is any low-hanging fruit left—more methods to reduce national prison populations.

The Prison Population Forecaster//State Prison Population Cover

"Through no fault of their own, millions of children have been exposed to and affected by the criminal justice system by witnessing their parent being arrested, by seeing their parent in court, or by visiting their parent in jail or prison. Indeed, many of the thousands of adult men and women who are arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated each year leave behind minor children who must grapple with their parent’s absence for days, months, or years. Although such exposure does not always result in negative outcomes for children, the extant research does suggest that parental involvement in the criminal justice system can put children at risk of residential instability, economic strain and financial hardship, mental health problems, poor academic performance, and antisocial and delinquent behavior. Parental involvement in the system can be traumatic for children and can hinder the quality of the relationship they have with their parent … This toolkit and the strategies and experiences described herein are intended for people who are interested in developing family-focused jail programs in their own jurisdictions, such as jail practitioners and community-based organizations working with jail administrators and jail detainees" (p. 1). Sections cover: family-focused jail programs; Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights; considerations for developing a comprehensive family-focused jail program—identify goals, ensure that the process is collaborative, determine what components should be in the program (parenting classes, coached phone calls, contact visits, and others), and implement the program (program structure and sequence, eligibility, and staff training); challenges and lessons learned (have adequate and appropriate space for the various program components, strike a balance between having fun and providing a service, minimize the trauma associated with visiting a parent in jail, account for high population turnover in jails, and secure adequate, sustainable funding); and conclusion.

Toolkit for Developing Family-Focused Jail Programs Cover

The objective of this document is to detail a set of practices that correctional administrators can implement to remove barriers that inhibit children from cultivating or maintaining relationships with their incarcerated parents during and immediately after incarceration. This handbook contains ten chapters: partnership building; training and core competencies; intake and assessment; family notification and information provision; classes and groups; visitor lobbies; visiting; parent-child communication; caregiver support; family-focused reentry.

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