Back to top

Pew Charitable Trusts (Washington, DC)

The use of cost-effective evidence-based practices to reduce offender recidivism, crime rates, and costs is explained. Strategies covered are: establish recidivism reductions as an explicit sentencing goal; provide sufficient flexibility to consider recidivism reduction options; base sentencing decisions on risk/needs assessment; require community corrections programs to be evidence-based; integrate services and sanctions; ensure courts know about available sentencing options; encourage swift and certain responses to probation violations; use court hearings and incentives to motivate offender behavior change; and promote effective collaboration among criminal justice agencies.

Arming the Courts with Research Cover

“During the past six years, Texas overhauled its juvenile corrections system, enacting a series of reforms that led to a significant reduction in the state-level committed population and yielded millions of dollars in cost savings while protecting public safety” (p. 1). Sections of this brief cover: problem; reforms—authorizing legislation, redirected resources, incentive funding, standardized tools, and streamlines system; and impact—commitments down, costs reduced $50 million per year, and public safety maintained.

Bending the Curve: Juvenile Corrections Reform in Texas cover

“Using effective strategies to keep probationers and parolees crime- and drug-free and curb their revocation rates is among the most important issues facing our community corrections supervision system … Based on solid research, two key strategies that many agencies have begun to implement are the use of swift, certain, and proportionate sanctions to respond to violations, and the use of incentives to promote and reinforce compliance among probationers and parolees” (p. 1-2). This report does a great job in explaining how to effectively combine both sanctions and incentives in probation and parole supervision. These tactics are: consider legal and constitutional issues; apply proper ration of incentives to sanctions; collaborate with key stakeholders; develop structured response grids using key principles; and evaluate program fidelity and outcomes. Also included are a “Response Grid Template” and a “Data Collection Elements” list.

Effective Responses to Offender Behavior: Lessons Learned from Probation and Parole Supervision Cover

"Under increasing pressure to demonstrate effectiveness and do more with less, many governments are expanding their use of evidence-based programs—those shown in rigorous evaluations to be effective. Committing to such proven programs can help governments strengthen efficiency and accountability and achieve better outcomes for residents" (p. 1). This article explains how various states have used evidence-based practices (EBPs) in their policymaking. Sections of this brief cover: what evidence-based policymaking is; five types of laws that uphold evidence-based programs--require agencies to inventory and categorize funded programs by their evidence of effectiveness; provide incentives for the use of evidence- and research-based programs; restrict funding of programs shown to be ineffective; require the use of evidence- or research-based programs; and dedicate funding to evidence- or research-based programs; and key considerations.

Legislating Evidence-Based Policymaking Cover

“This report examines Pew’s findings on state prison health care spending and explores the factors driving costs higher. It also illustrates a variety of promising approaches that states are taking to address these challenges … These examples offer important lessons as policymakers seek the best ways to make their correctional health care systems effective and affordable” (p. 4). Sections of this publication include: overview; the challenge for the states—location, staffing, and inmate transportation, a legal standard for care, prevalence of metal illness and disease, and the growth in the number of older inmates and their associated higher costs; sates responses to growing costs—telehealth technologies, advances in outsourcing of care, Medicaid financing, and the paroling of elderly and/or ill inmates.

Managing Prison Health Care Spending Cover

This brief examines the impact a mandatory reentry supervision program has on spending and public safety. Kentucky requires that every inmate that is released from prison undergo post-release supervision to ensure that the inmate has the necessary monitoring and/or support in the community. Results show that the post-release supervision program: "improved public safety by helping reduce new offense rates by 30 percent; resulted in a net savings of approximately 872 prison beds per year; [and] saved more than $29 million in the 27 months after the policy took effect" (p. 1).

Mandatory Reentry Supervision: Evaluating the Kentucky Experience Cover

"Reducing recidivism is a key indicator of success for juvenile corrections agencies." This interactive map is an excellent resource for finding out about juvenile offender recidivism across the United States. Information provided for each responding state shows its definition of recidivism (measure(s) of reoffending, length of follow up, and whether offenders are followed in to the criminal justice system), how performance (recidivism) is measured (compare to previous year release cohorts, and compare rates by offender risk), reporting (frequency of reporting, and target audience), and the source of the state's data. One may get all the information provided in the interactive tool in one PDF table.

Measuring Juvenile Recidivism: Data Collection and Reporting Practices in Juvenile Corrections Cover

This is an excellent infographic showing how reductions in incarceration lead to decreases in crime. "Over the past five years, the majority of states have reduced their imprisonment rates while experiencing less crime. The relationship between incarceration and crime is complex, but states continue to show that it is possible to reduce both at the same time." A bar chart shows the change in imprisonment rate compared to the change in crime rate over the period of 2008 through 2013 for all 50 states. The bottom line--crime is less in those states that reduce their need on incarceration.

Most States Cut Imprisonment and Crime Cover

This issue brief is an excellent overview of how voters in the United States feel about juvenile offenders. It expertly uses infographics to make the information easy to understand and distribute. Topics explained are: voters prioritize services and supervision over incarceration for juvenile offenders; voters say juvenile offenders should be treated differently than adult offenders; voters care less about whether or how long juvenile offenders are incarcerated than about preventing crime; voters are sensitive to the costs of the juvenile justice system; voters want a strong return on their investments in juvenile correctional facilities; voters support reducing the number and time served of low-level juvenile offenders sent to corrections facilities and using savings to improve probation; voters say that nonviolent juvenile offenders should not be in corrections facilities for more than six months; voters say juvenile corrections facilities should be used only for felony-level offenders; voters say status offenders and technical violators should not go to corrections facilities; voters support reinvesting savings from reduced juvenile facility populations into county programs that contribute to state-level savings; 90% of voters want families, schools, and social service agencies to take more responsibility for youth who commit low-level offenses; and most voters say families, schools, and social service agencies should handle low-level offenses and the justice system should be involved only with more serious offenses. "Support for juvenile justice reform is strong across political parties, regions, and age, gender, and racial-ethnic groups" (p. 1).

Public Opinion on Juvenile Justice in America Cover

"A growing body of research demonstrates that for many juvenile offenders, lengthy out-of-home placements in secure corrections or other residential facilities fail to produce better outcomes than alternative sanctions. In certain instances, they can be counterproductive. Seeking to reduce recidivism and achieve better returns on their juvenile justice spending, several states have recently enacted laws that limit which youth can be committed to these facilities and moderates the length of time they can spend there. These changes prioritize the use of costly facilities and intensive programming for serious offenders who present a higher risk of reoffending, while supporting effective community-based programs for others" (p.1). Sections of this brief include: overview; out-of-home placements do not improve outcomes for most youth; most Ohio youth supervised in the community have lower recidivism rates; evidence does not support longer lengths of stay; longer stays do not yield consistent reductions in juvenile recidivism; high cost to taxpayers, poor return on investment; daily costs at secure juvenile facilities exceed those of other common sanctions; voters prioritize rehabilitation and recidivism reduction; votes care less about whether or how long juvenile offenders are incarcerated than about preventing crime; and states put research into action—limiting out-of-home placements, and moderating length of stay.

Re-Examining Juvenile Incarceration cover


Subscribe to Pew Charitable Trusts (Washington, DC)