Millions of American families struggle with the consequences of ineffective criminal justice policies. While American prisons excel at punitive measures, they fail society once individuals are released due to a failure to adequately rehabilitate them.
Safe Streets & Second Chances is an innovative program that takes an evidence-driven approach to the chronic issues of repeat offenders and recidivism, using academic research to craft individualized reentry plans that shift the ultimate measure of success from whether individuals are punished to whether these individuals are improved, rehabilitated, and capable of redemption.
An Ineffective System
Nearly 700,000 individuals are released from incarceration each year, returning to communities and families they have not seen in years. The tolls of incarceration are extensive and far-reaching, limiting opportunities for employment, housing, financial stability, education, and even the dream of what is possible. Faced with immense challenges, old habits and the familiar past can seem like the only option, and the cycle of incarceration is likely to repeat itself.
Meanwhile, 2.7 million children have a parent behind bars, and families and communities continue to struggle. Budgets strain to pay the $80 billion our country spends on prisons and jails each year with an unacceptably poor rehabilitation rate. The spending on incarceration is also to the detriment of effective drug treatment and mental health expenditures. Reform requires a multifaceted approach and evidence-based solutions.
Why Fix It?
Momentum is growing for substantive change that will safely reduce prison populations, crime, and recidivism rates, resulting in improvements in public safety and decreased spending. Community and faith-based organizations are making great strides toward these goals across the country. States that have passed policy-based criminal justice reform have also seen great benefit:
Recent reforms in Texas saved $3 billion in taxpayer costs that would have been required to meet the projected need for 17,000+ prison beds, and juvenile crime has markedly declined, and the number of youths in state institutions has been reduced by 53%.
In the five years following passage of a comprehensive justice reinvestment package in South Carolina, the daily prison population was cut by 9%; probation rates increased by 12%, parole completion rates increased and 9%, two prisons were closed, and both violent and property crime rates fell.
Breaking Barriers to Reentry
Safe Streets & Second Chances is an innovative and revolutionary initiative that combines academic research, policy reform, and evidence-driven programming to pursue the simple goal of holistic reentry plans that shift the ultimate measure of success from whether individuals are punished to whether they are improved, rehabilitated, and capable of redemption. Holistic plans and targeted reentry services and interventions will be generated concurrent with admission to incarceration to shape every individual’s prison experience.
Once actionable data is available, Safe Streets & Second Chances partners will continue to adjust, test, learn, and evolve, with a goal of expanding the efforts of targeted reentry services to ten additional states in two years. The project will also work with national thought leaders and criminal justice practitioners to create an online database of high-quality practices for use by departments of correction, service providers, and law enforcement.
This comprehensive program has the potential to disrupt the entire U.S. incarceration system (the largest in the world), and make a tremendous difference in the lives of the hundreds of millions of Americans affected by it.
Individuals benefit, through restoration to productive citizenship by the end of incarceration.
Departments of correction benefit, as they can focus on protection and reducing re-offenses, ensuring greater safety for communities and reductions in overall cost.
Our society benefits, from a criminal justice system that improves public safety, strengthens communities, supports victims, protects taxpayers, pursues justice equally for all, inspires a culture of respect for every individual, and removes barriers to transformation.