Newsflash:
Issues Economic and Social Justice The Robin Hood Tax End Mass Criminalization New Proposal: Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:47

New Proposal: Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration

Written by  Brennan Center for Justice
New Proposal: Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration ACLU

A leading law and policy institute unveiled a new proposal to reform the federal government’s largest criminal justice funding program. The Brennan Center for Justice's new proposal, Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration, sets out a plan to link federal grant money to modern criminal justice goals – as a tool to promote innovative crime-reduction policies nationwide.

The proposal, dubbed by the authors “Success-Oriented Funding,” would recast the federal government’s $352 million Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, by changing the measures used to determine success of its grants. It reflects a broader proposed shift in criminal justice programs at all levels of government. The proposal could be implemented without legislation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Read the full report click here. Read the press release here. Read the executive summary here.

“Funding what works and demanding success is critical, especially given the stakes in criminal justice policy. This report marks an important step toward implementing this funding approach in Washington and beyond,” said Peter Orszag, former Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, who wrote the proposal’s foreword.

The Center proposes major changes to the program’s “performance measures”, which are used to track a grant recipient’s use of the funds. The proposal notes:

Current measures inadvertently incentivize unwise policy choices. Federal officials ask states to report the number of arrests, but not whether the crime rate dropped. They measure the amount of cocaine seized, but not whether arrestees were screened for drug addiction. They tally the number of cases prosecuted, but not whether prosecutors reduced the number of petty crime offenders sent to prison. In short, today’s JAG performance measures fail to show whether the programs it funds have achieved “success”: improving public safety without needless social costs.

“What gets measured gets done,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center and one of the report’s authors. “Criminal justice funding should reflect what works. Too often, today, it is on autopilot. This proposal reflects an innovative new wave of law enforcement priorities that already have begun to transform policy. That is the way to keep streets safe, while reducing mass incarceration.”

Success-Oriented Funding would hold grant recipients accountable for what they do with the money they receive. By implementing direct links between funding and proven results, the government can ensure the criminal justice system is achieving goals while not increasing unintended social costs or widening the pipeline to prison.

The JAG program was launched nearly three decades ago at the height of the crime wave. As such, its performance measures center on questions about the quantity of arrests and prosecutions. Although funding levels are not based on rates of arrests and prosecutions, interviews with over 100 state and local officials and recipients found that many grant recipients interpreted the performance measure questions as indicating how they should focus their activity.

The Brennan Center’s new, more robust performance measures would better record how effective grant recipients are at reducing crime in their state or locality. For example, current volume-based performance measures record activity, such as total number of arrests, number of people charged with gun crimes, or number of cases prosecuted.  The Brennan Center’s proposed new Success-Oriented performance measures record results, such as the increase or decrease in violent crime rate or what percentage of violent crime arrests resulted in convictions.

A Blue Ribbon Panel of criminal justice experts also provided guidance and comments on the measures, including leaders in law enforcement, prosecutors and public defenders, former government officials, and federal grant recipients. Participants included David LaBahn, president of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; John Firman, research director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police; and Jerry Madden, a senior fellow at Right on Crime.

“The Brennan Center’s proposed reforms will provide state and local law enforcement with the tools they need to evaluate how successful their own practices are at reducing crime, while encouraging them to adopt innovative crime-reduction programs developed by colleagues across the country.” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation and a 33-year law enforcement veteran.

“Those of us who are conservatives know the importance of measuring performance and ensuring that incentives in any system are aligned to the desired goals,” said Marc Levin, director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and one of the nation’s leading conservative criminal justice experts. “We have documented the benefits of policies in Ohio, Illinois, and Texas that tie funding to goals such as reducing recidivism, substance abuse, and the unnecessary incarceration of nonviolent offenders. This report highlights how the federal government can learn from and promote the most successful of these state and local programs, in order to create a more modern and effective justice system.”

In addition to implementing new metrics, the Brennan Center recommends the Justice Department require grant recipients to submit reports.  By mandating that grant recipients answer the questions, the Justice Department can align state and local practices with modern criminal justice priorities of reducing both crime and mass incarceration. The reported data should then be publicly available for further analysis.

To read the full report click here.

***

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. We work to hold our political institutions and laws accountable to the twin American ideals of democracy and equal justice for all. The Center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from racial justice in criminal law to Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. A singular institution — part think tank, part public interest law firm, part advocacy group, part communications hub — the Brennan Center seeks meaningful, measurable change in the systems by which our nation is governed.

Read 6421 times

Robin Hood Tax Articles

  • Could This Tax on Wall Street Turn Back America’s Tide of Inequality?
    Could This Tax on Wall Street Turn Back America’s Tide of Inequality?

    How will you honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. this April 4, the anniversary of his assassination? How about by demanding that Congress get out of Wall Street’s pocket? How about by letting your representative know that you support economic equality and a just distribution of wealth in America? As Dr. King himself said, “This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”

    Written on Monday, 31 March 2014 23:57 Read more...
  • Targeting Wall Street, Robin Hood Tax Comes to Washington
    Targeting Wall Street, Robin Hood Tax Comes to Washington

    With Congress about to begin the next cycle of budget battles – mostly focused on how much more pain to inflict on Main Street communities across America – a far different message is bubbling up across the land.

    Written on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 23:08 Read more...
  • The Robin Hood Tax
    The Robin Hood Tax

    Simply put, the big idea behind the Robin Hood Tax is to generate hundreds of billions of dollars.  That money could provide funding for jobs to kickstart the economy and get America back on its feet. It could help save the social safety net here and around the world.  And it will come from fairer taxation of the financial sector.

    Written on Friday, 25 October 2013 15:41 Read more...
  • European Commission Approves “Robin Hood” Tax on Financial Transactions
    European Commission Approves “Robin Hood” Tax on Financial Transactions The European Commission yesterday backed plans by 11 European Union economies to impose a “Robin Hood” financial transaction tax, better known as a Tobin tax, to help raise funds to tackle the region’s growing debt crisis.
    Written on Wednesday, 24 October 2012 16:53 Read more...

Does Your Legislator Support the Robin Hood Tax?

Sign the ERA Petition

ERADemandButton

On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)

Button-SignERAPetition

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

Find Your Elected Officials for Issues

Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number

ButtonFindElectedOfficials

 

Like Robin Hood Tax on Facebook

The Robin Hood Tax

Robin Hood Tax: John Nichols and Keith Ellison and Michael Lighty

Why The Robin Hood Tax