Today, OSI grantee the Justice Policy Institute released “Defining Violence: reducing incarceration by rethinking America’s approach to violence,” which suggests that reforming the U.S. justice system’s approach to violent crime is key to lowering incarceration rates. While many reform efforts focus on non-violent crime, the report notes that just under half the prison population has been convicted of a violent crime and suggests that any meaningful criminal justice reform must focus on how laws, policies, and practices treat these offenses.
“This is a complicated political and systems reform issues, which many policymakers haven’t even yet begun to grapple with,” Marc Schindler, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute said in a press release. “There’s no question that we can safely and meaningfully reduce our prison and jail populations, but to do so we need to have the courage to come up with a more effective approach to violence prevention, and address how the justice system treats violent offenses.”
The publication also looks at the way offenses are categorized differently in different places, how context matters in the way violent or nonviolent offenses are treated in the criminal justice system, and the disconnect between the evidence on what works and current policy.