In the News
The cost of incarceration in the United States exceeds $1 trillion, or six percent of the gross domestic product, and dwarfs the amount spent on corrections alone, finds a new study from Washington University in St. Louis.
In recent years, the bipartisan push for criminal justice reform has been fueled in large part by the astronomical price tag that comes with mass incarceration. Locking people up in federal, state, and local correctional facilities cost the government a whopping $80 billion, and taxpayers end up footing the bill. But a Washington University study released in July projects that the price tag touted by advocates of reform is a mere fraction of the actual cost of mass incarceration.
The economic toll of incarceration in the U.S. tops $1 trillion, and more than half of that falls on the families and communities of the people incarcerated, according to a recent study by Washington University researchers.
National experts, advocates and leading academics will gather at Washington University in St. Louis Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 14-16, as part of a policy conference designed to hammer out constructive solutions to pressing social issues facing the country and the next administration.
The United States Justice Department will begin phasing out its use of private prisons this year – with an eye to ending the practice entirely. The move comes amid growing public and governmental concern that the facilities are less secure and less safe, for both inmates and guards.
The proposal issued Monday by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch may seem like small potatoes. But according to some criminal-justice experts, such a seemingly small change could have major impacts on the lives of the hundreds of thousands of felons who leave prison every year. It’s also a goal that may span partisan divides, potentially serving as a bridge toward further criminal-justice reforms.
The House and Senate are moving toward passing a bill that would change the guidelines for mandatory minimum sentencing and solitary confinement of juveniles. The effort is the product of a growing consensus that decades of "tough on crime" policies – including mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders – filled prisons across the country to the breaking point. The bill could reach President Obama’s desk this year, and he has said he will sign it, leading to celebrations of actual bipartisanship.
A bipartisan group of United States senators announced Oct. 1 legislation that would overhaul the country’s criminal justice system, giving judges more leeway in sentencing and reducing sentences for some nonviolent offenders.
St. Louis, Mo.— "There is not a criminal justice system in this country," Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm told a group of about 150 social workers, researchers, criminal justice professionals and people affected by mass incarceration gathered for a national conference. "There are 3,100 criminal justice systems, each of them run by an elected official."