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In a press conference today, members of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections released a report detailing the findings of their year-long effort to identify the main drivers of federal corrections growth, and have recommended many broad reforms that states have adopted recently.
Over the course of the last ten years, states have confronted a stark realization that the previous decade’s worth of largely unrestrained growth in their corrections systems has become unsustainable. Not only were states lacking a return on their investment in terms of public safety — evidenced in part by stubbornly high recidivism rates — but, in pure dollar terms, their corrections expenditures have often times been the second fastest-growing area of their respective budgets (behind Medicaid).
Many states have now re-considered their previous “tough on crime” approach — which was, admittedly, an understandable reaction to the high crime rates of the ’60s and ’70s, but has nonetheless led to explosive prison growth — and instead have shifted to a more individualized, evidence-based model that prioritizes resources, seeks alternatives to incarceration, and saves taxpayers money responsibly.