The Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition is a diverse cross-section of leaders who find common ground in the urgent need for comprehensive corrections reform.
The Coalition supports law enforcement, county sheriffs, the judiciary, agency officials, and legislative leaders working to advance comprehensive change across the criminal justice system. MassINC provides staffing and organizational support for the Coalition.
Articles from CJRC
- Aug 30, 2019
Ben Forman is research director at the think tank MassINC, which has done pioneering work in criminal justice issues. He points especially to changes in juvenile sentencing as key to both the state’s smaller prison population and lowered crime overall. That’s partly due to what Forman calls the “criminogenic” effects of incarceration: The prison environment itself hardens criminal behaviors and increases the likelihood of recidivism. “We have moved away dramatically from the incarceration of youth,” he says, and towards alternative services and probation. “You prevent the formation of a career criminal.”
Given the dizzying annual cost of incarceration — at least $55,000 per inmate — you would think that state Department of Corrections budgets would be falling along with the prison population. But no: MassINC found that combined prison and sheriff department budgets have increased 25 percent since 2011.
Forman and other advocates want to see not just criminal justice reform, but reinvestment. One example: The current fiscal year budget includes $25 million for community corrections centers operated by the once-tarnished department of probation. With new leadership, these 18 centers are now offering intensive services from education and employment counseling to behavioral therapy, substance abuse treatment, and domestic violence prevention. Given that 500 people come home from prison every year in the city of Lawrence alone, the need for constructive re-entry programs seems obvious. More, please.
- May 27, 2018
Ben Forman, research director at the think tank MassINC, says there is also a question of priorities. Letting the perpetrator of a violent crime free a few months early can feel like a violation of social responsibilities to the victims. “But,” he says, “we also have a responsibility to future victims.”
His argument: There are limited resources in the corrections system, and we should be pouring them into services for younger and potentially more dangerous inmates — making them less likely to re-offend, and victimize new people, when they get out of prison.
- May 22, 2018
As another effort to generate savings, Spilka said the budget would create a commission to study the costs of prisons and jails and recommend appropriate funding levels for the Department of Correction and sheriffs’ departments. A report released Monday by MassINC found that the number of inmates in state and county correctional facilities dropped 21 percent over the past eight years while correctional budgets increased by nearly 25 percent.
Over 8 Years, Mass. Spending On Incarceration Is Up 25 Percent Despite Inmate Numbers Dropping 21 PercentMay 22, 2018
Massachusetts prisons and jails hold 5,000 fewer people than they did eight years ago, but spending on those facilities has continued to rise nonetheless.
That’s according to a research brief out Monday from the think tank MassINC, which advocates for criminal justice reform measures. The findings are an update to the group’s report last year that found correctional spending in the state had increased $181 million over five years, despite fewer inmates.
Monday’s new figures, MassINC said, mean the trend has continued, and “in fact, the divergence between spending and population is accelerating slightly.”
- May 21, 2018
“If more dollars were going to provide job training and other services that reduce the likelihood individuals will re-offend when they get out, that would be one thing,” said Ben Forman, MassINC’s research director. “But the money is going to hiring more correctional officers and increasing staff pay.”
Explore research reports
- MassINC is a key partner to the Boston Foundation, and all of us who are seeking to advance the regional conversation around economic opportunity and a strong quality of life for all. MassINC's robust, nonpartisan research is exactly what our citizens and leaders need to make good decisions.
Paul Grogan, President of The Boston Foundation
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Helen Chin Schlichte
Former Public Administrator; President Emeritus, South Cove Manor at Quincy Point
- MassINC's long-term dedication to Gateway Cities makes them a valuable resource to all of our communities. They are a true thought partner. They go the distance to help others appreciate our unique opportunities, needs, and perspectives.
Tim McGourthy Executive Director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau
- MassINC serves as a credible, thoughtful resource for all of us who are invested in the future of the Commonwealth. Its emphasis on careful analysis that is grounded in data, research, and polling makes an important contribution to and helps elevate the conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing the region.
Trevor Pollack, Manager of Special Projects for the Barr Foundation
- The potential of Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities is limitless. MassINC’s dedicated work in promoting these cities has been, and will continue to be, instrumental in their individual and collective success.
Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and former chair of the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute
- MassINC has always provided research showing the detrimental impact of the state’s unforgiving criminal justice system on our communities. Their polling confirmed that the public understood the need for change in our system. That criminal justice reform is at the forefront of bipartisan local and national debates today is in no small measure due to MassINC’s persistent and fair commitment to the issue.
Juliette Kayyem Faculty Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Founder Kayyem Solutions LLC
- Through my partnership with MassINC, the Building On What Works Coalition is working to unite a diverse collection of civic leaders around an urgent call to encourage the state to act on the progress that has been made ensuring all children in Massachusetts have a true chance to succeed in the state’s economy. MassINC’s research and commitment to data driven public policy are helping to give the children of Massachusetts a better education.
Kim Driscoll Mayor of Salem
- MassINC's work with the Gateway Cities is unmatched. As Eastern Bank strives to help businesses in these communities thrive, MassINC has been a tremendous partner, providing data-driven research and affirming that these cities are full of opportunities.
Bob Rivers Chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank
- When MassINC speaks, it’s well worth listening. After all, the nonpartisan think tank has established itself as a thoughtful, careful, credible voice on public policy in Massachusetts.
Scot Lehigh Boston Globe Op-Ed Columnist
- Few organizations in the country have better understood the important role of governance reform and accountability in education policy and economic development than MassINC.
Bruce Katz Former Vice President and Founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution
- [MassINC's] understanding of the complexity of the challenges facing the state’s older cities, its belief in the opportunities that present themselves in those communities, and its advocacy of the role that public higher education can and should play in them, has added to the understanding that policy makers need to have as they move our state toward the future.
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