Sensible Prison Reform

With bipartisan support from Congress, states have been exploring prudent ways to cut corrections spending, which is often the second largest state expenditure behind health care. As prison costs have increased and recidivism rates have also increased – about half of the people released from state prisons are returned there within three years – states have been asking whether they are getting a good return on investment. 

That question was the subject of a national summit last year, convened by the Council of State Governments Justice Center with a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation. Funding and other support for the summit were also provided by thePew Center on the States and the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice. The National Summit on Justice Reinvestment and Public Safety also benefited from bipartisan Congressional involvement, including Republican Representative Frank Wolf of Virginia and Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. 

The summit brought together more than 300 people representing law enforcement, courts, corrections and policymakers at the local, state and federal levels. A report released today on the proceedings highlights responsible policies and practices that increase public safety while reducing recidivism and spending on corrections. Serving as a blueprint for other states, the report also examines efforts in Texas, Kansas, Arizona and New Hampshire to invest in data analysis and risk assessment to determine which individuals should be in prison and which ones would be better served under community supervision or in substance abuse treatment or other programs. 

To see the full report, Click here.


The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. The Foundation looks for strategic points where its funds can make a significant difference and improve lives through policy and system reform that results in transformative change. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or on Facebook.

Stay Informed with our eNewsletter