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Brennan Center for Justice (New York NY)

“Are there connections between these three shifts – a decrease in crime, a decrease in the correctional population, and a sharp increase in controversial police practices? What factors contributed to these shifts? What about the costs of these shifts? Have they been evaluated and weighed against the benefits? In this report, leading criminologists James Austin and Michael Jacobson take an empirical look at these powerful social changes and any interconnections. Examining data from 1985 to 2009, they conclude that New York City’s “broken windows” policy did something unexpected: it reduced the entire correctional population of the state. As the NYPD focused on low-level arrests, it devoted fewer resources to felony arrests. At the same time, a lowered crime rate – as an additional factor – meant that fewer people were committing felonies. This combination led to fewer felony arrests and therefore fewer people entering the correctional system. Other policies – like programs that stopped punishing people with prison if not necessary – also contributed to this population drop” (p. 3). Sections of this report following an executive summary are: decline in New York prison population—drop in admissions and increase in statewide length of stay; decline in New York parole, probation, and jail populations; delayed effect on state corrections budget; accompanying drop in New York City’s crime rate and shift in arrest policy; and conclusion.

How New York City

If you are thinking of implementing pay-for-stay, then you need to read this article. "With the explosive correctional growth, state correctional costs have skyrocketed in the last four decades. While it is understandable that governments would look to recoup these costs, advocates and scholars have long argued that it represents bad policy. However, less work has been done to challenge the legality of this practice, perhaps because courts have historically been so unfriendly to these types of challenges. This essay suggests that exploring the constitutional implications of charging inmates for goods, services, and even their stay behind bars could help to build the case for policy change around the nation. Specifically, legal academics could provide persuasive support for this area of advocacy by reexamining the legality of the current systems of fees and fines under the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause. Even if courts continue to strike down these legal arguments, policymakers may finally take heed of such compelling evidence that this practice may potentially violate the U.S. Constitution" (p. 1). This article is divided into these parts: "introduction"; "History of Inmate Fees"--history of inmate fees and pay-to-stay practices, rationales for implementing inmate fees, types of pay-to-stay, and policy objections; "Toward a New Litigation Strategy"—Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment, forfeiture cases examined under the Excessive Fines Clause, the seminal constitutional case in jail fee jurisprudence being Tillman v. Lebanon County Correctional Facility, and further litigation inquiries; and conclusion.

Paying for Your Time: How Charging Inmates Fees Behind Bars May Violate the Excessive Fines Clause Cover

This report "examines one of the nation’s least understood recent phenomena – the dramatic decline in crime nationwide over the past two decades – and analyzes various theories for why it occurred, by reviewing more than 40 years of data from all 50 states and the 50 largest cities. It concludes that over-harsh criminal justice policies, particularly increased incarceration, which rose even more dramatically over the same period, were not the main drivers of the crime decline. In fact, the report finds that increased incarceration has been declining in its effectiveness as a crime control tactic for more than 30 years. Its effect on crime rates since 1990 has been limited, and has been non-existent since 2000. More important were various social, economic, and environmental factors, such as growth in income and an aging population. The introduction of CompStat, a data-driven policing technique, also played a significant role in reducing crime in cities that introduced it" (website). This report is divided into two parts following an executive summary. Part I—State-Level Analysis of Crime: criminal justice policies—increased incarceration, increased police numbers, use of the death penalty, and enactment of right-to-carry gun laws; economic factors—unemployment, growth in income, inflation, and consumer confidence; and social and environmental factors—decreased alcohol consumption, aging population, decreased crack use, legalization of abortion, and decreased lead in gasoline. Part II—City-Level Analysis of Crime: policing—introduction of CompStat.

What Caused the Crime Decline? Cover
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