Through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), state leaders work with experts to conduct agency-spanning data analysis; develop and implement data-driven, tailored solutions to address complicated criminal justice challenges; and maximize resources to achieve stronger and safer communities.
States identify the factors that contribute to high rates of prison and jail admissions, recidivism, and corrections costs, as well as more focused concerns such as returns to prison and jail from community supervision and high use of behavioral health and criminal justice resources by specific populations. Leaders use this information to prioritize incarcerating people who pose a serious risk to public safety and use a combination of accountability and treatment interventions for other people. This generates savings that are reinvested in proven strategies to reduce recidivism, support victims of crime, and maintain public safety.
JRI is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance—with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts and Arnold Ventures—and utilizes experts from The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Crime and Justice Institute to provide technical assistance to state partners interested in using data to analyze and improve their justice systems.
Forty-four states have used JRI to pursue policies to improve their justice systems, and, in some cases, reduce the total prison population. Through JRI, states have averted costs or saved more than $3.2 billion cumulatively, allowing states to invest hundreds of millions in effective supervision and treatment programs to make communities safer, with each state having the flexibility to determine how to direct these savings to achieve its public safety goals. It is projected that savings will grow to over $4 billion by 2024 as a result of JRI.
Selected JRI Accomplishments
The interactive JRI map features achievements for all states. Here are some notable examples.
Louisiana’s 2021 policy changes diverted people convicted of less serious offenses from prison to community supervision, resulting in over $100 million saved and redirected into supportive services that reduce recidivism and support victims of crime.
As part of a 2017 strategy to reduce recidivism among women, Missouri transitioned its Community Supervision Centers to state-of-the-art reentry and community support facilities, including the first-ever female-only trauma-informed facility with gender-responsive approaches to supervision, case management, and programming.
In 2019, Nevada underwent a second round of JRI and the policy changes designed to significantly slow growth in the state’s prison did just that—the population declined 25 percent from 2018 to 2022. Additionally, Nevada instituted Virtual Crisis Care, a rural crisis response model developed through a public-private partnership, to support police officers responding to individuals in crisis.
In response to JRI, between 2013 and 2016, North Carolina invested more than $47 million to target their projected prison growth, probation revocations, and supervision. Compared to 2011 trends, in 2021 North Carolina’s prison population dropped 28 percent, which allowed North Carolina to close 11 small prisons.
Utah’s policy changes in 2015 focused, among other things, on reducing the use of prison, strengthening community supervision strategies, and improving reentry planning for individuals at high risk of reoffending. These changes resulted in a 21 percent decrease in the prison population, with the percentage of prison beds occupied by people convicted of violent offenses increasing from 50 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2021.
Changes Georgia made through its 2017 Justice Reinvestment Initiative addressed the state’s high probation rate by significantly reducing probation and parole officers’ average caseload size and prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to public safety and their communities.