Jimmy G. epitomized the “do your job” mantra when he took to the field Sunday night amid the bright lights and fan noise and executed. For all of those who have worked equally tirelessly over the last decade or more to advance criminal justice reform, the moment to channel Garoppolo and the Patriots is quickly approaching —     the contours of a generational update to our criminal justice policies and practices will be drawn this fall.

The Council on State Governments Justice Reinvestment working group

The Council on State Governments Justice Reinvestment working group

Three meetings remain on the calendar for the data- driven Justice Reinvestment Initiative. On October 20th, the WorkingGroup will gather with Council of State Government (CSG) analysts for a discussion focused largely on the granting of parole. In November, the Working Group will convene again to look at post-release supervision more generally. They will also use a portion of this final data review meeting to dig deeper into racial disparities within our corrections system. At the last Working Group session in December, the CSG analysts will present policy options.

Between now and then, the CSG staff will confer with the Steering Group (Governor Baker, Senate President Rosenberg, Speaker DeLeo, and Chief Justice Gants) to establish consensus around the goals of criminal justice reform. Up until now, the focus has been recidivism reduction. With more clarity on where there are opportunities to reduce recidivism, the CSG analysts will recommend policy responses. The aim is to then translate these ideas into legislation by January. Making the legislative framework available early in the new year will give others opportunity to offer complementary bills before the January 20th filing deadline for the 2017-2018 legislative session.

Policymaking is always difficult, even more so when it involves public safety matters. But the data clearly pinpoint opportunities for change and the benefits we stand to gain, both in terms of less crime and less cost. As stakeholders heavily invested in the process, doing our job this fall means ensuring that this research is front and center, and supporting our legislators as they work to find common ground for comprehensive change

— Ben Forman


The US Department of Justice says poor defendants cannot be held in jail just because they are unable to afford bail.

President Obama commutes the sentences of 214 federal inmates.

At the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, both parties seem to reach consensus that criminal justice reform is overdue. 


The Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight holds a hearing to examine fees and fines associated with probation in Massachusetts, assessing whether there are unintended consequences. 

Other States

Criminal justice reform becomes a key issue in primaries around the country.

A new data analytics process helps Bexar County Texas reduce its jail population by 25 percent.

 Maryland launches a new program offering stay-at-home drug recovery as an alternative to incarceration, acting on a proposal from a state heroin and opioid addiction task force. 

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin creates a Justice Reinvestment task force focused on reviewing the state’s criminal justice system with the priorities of holding offenders accountable, controlling spending and taxpayer costs, and developing cost-effective strategies to increase public safety and reduce recidivism. 

From the Researchers 

The Alliance for Safety and Justice releases the first-ever national survey of crime victims and finds widespread, bipartisan support for criminal justice reform.

The Vera Institute shows how criminal justice reform efforts have overlooked women.

A study by Columbia University researchers finds that the cash bail system increases recidivism.

The Justice Policy Institute issues a report reframing our policy response to violence.

In the Media 

The Boston Globe highlights the career of retiring Hampshire County Sheriff Bob Garvey.

The New York Times reports on the decline in criminal jury trials and implications for the justice system.

The Marshall Project reports on the growth of charity bail funds across the country.

The New Yorker looks at profiteering from the prison boom.

The New York Times relays the story of Dequan Jackson, a 16 year old student in Florida struggling against the court fees that disproportionately affect nonwhite, poor juvenile offenders.

Read the latest from our Justice Reinvestment Policy Brief Series


2 Harnessing the Power of Data for Justice Reinvestment in Massachusetts

Data are increasingly the lifeblood of an effective criminal justice system. Modern technology allows agencies to collect and exchange high-quality, actionable information. These data help frontline workers make informed decisions that reduce risk. And they provide managers and policymakers with vital information for the optimal allocation of resources. Learn More

Mounting an Evidence-Based Criminal Justice Response to Substance Abuse and Drug Offending in Massachusetts

Solutions to better treat and manage substance abuse are paramount to an effective 1Justice Reinvestment strategy. Too many residents suffering from substance use disorder continue to enter the criminal justice system, which struggles to help these individuals recover from a life-threatening disease. For many offenders, un- or undertreated substance abuse aggravates anti-social behavior and lengthens criminal careers. The resulting cycle of recidivism creates significant costs for communities and places a significant strain on public resources. Learn More


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