Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council

What's the Problem?

Maryland’s incarceration rate tripled between 1980 and 2001, including a 52 per cent increase for nonviolent offenders.

In 2014, Maryland pays about $38,000 per year per prison inmate.

Yet Maryland’s crime rate did not drop in proportion to this massive increase in incarceration and its burden on the taxpayers.

In fact, Maryland’s mass incarceration policies don’t work effectively to ensure public safety. In recent years, between 41 and 51% of Maryland prison inmates who complete their sentences recidivate—committing new offenses that return them to prison within three years.

What’s the Proposal?

A bipartisan policy, called the “Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI),” offers a way both to save taxpayer dollars and to improve public safety.

Maryland would establish a representative coordinating council to develop and recommend strategies for accomplishing these goals. The Council would request assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States to support them in the development of a data driven, evidence-based approach to achieve these critical objectives.

Will this Work?

Seventeen (17) U.S. states and twenty-two localities have begun to initiate JRI strategies simultaneously to reduce crime and taxpayer costs, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, & Oregon.

Oregon reports reduction of its recidivism rate below 23% while also reducing its prison population.

Other states, earlier in the process, also report dropping prison and recidivism rates together.

For example in 2014 the Urban Institute concluded that “justice reinvestment is a smart approach to enacting criminal justice reform that not only effectively manages corrections populations, but also enhances public safety.” Read a brief extract of their full report.

Status of the Legislation
Justice Reinvestment – a bipartisan plan recommended by the U.S. Dept. of Justice and adopted in 26 other states — reduces low-risk prison populations and may repurpose the same funds for screening, reentry, offender employment, and other services to lower recidivism and to increase public safety. In 2015, Maryland passed SB 602, creating a Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to participate in regional stakeholder meetings as the Council completes its 2-year study.

Interested in listening to the testimony in support of SB 602? Click here to see the proceedings of the Judicial Proceedings Committee on 26 February 2015.
Learn More!
The Federal JRI webpage explains just what the Justice Reinvestment Initiative is.

Other JRI-related webpages

  • The Council of State Governments Justice Center focuses on JRI:

    Justice reinvestment is a data-driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism.

  • The organization Right on Crime notes that “Success of Justice Reinvestment Becoming Indisputable” and reports that “Governors Highlight the Need, Benefits of Justice Reinvestment”
  • In a speech to the American Bar Association, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a series of policy changes aimed at slowing the growth of the federal prison system, acknowledging that “Justice Reinvestment Policies Improve Public Safety”