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.”
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Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and former chair of the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute
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Juliette Kayyem Faculty Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Founder Kayyem Solutions LLC
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Kim Driscoll Mayor of Salem
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Bruce Katz Former Vice President and Founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution
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