BALTIMORE—Maryland has reduced its projected prison population by 25% over the last eighteen years thanks to a series of incentive-based reforms that can serve as a model for correctional systems nationwide, according to a new report released today by Open Society Institute-Baltimore and JFA Institute.
The report, Safely Reducing Prison Populations: The Maryland Story, notes that Maryland and a handful of other states have worked closely with correctional departments and policymakers to implement reforms that have drastically reduced incarcerations rates, recidivism, and crime.
“The scientific evidence is clear—all forms of correctional supervision, not just confinement in prisons—can be reduced while crime rates decrease,” it reads. “California, New York, New Jersey—and now Maryland—are leading the way in reversing policies that have fueled America’s imprisonment binge.”
The report, prepared by James Austin of the JFA Institute on behalf of OSI-Baltimore, highlights correctional system initiatives jointly undertaken by OSI-Baltimore and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) to reduce incarceration levels, and recommends additional reforms that would bring us closer to ending mass incarceration in Maryland. At the core of the model is an incentive-based system that encourages correctional officials to adopt, and those confined in Maryland prisons to engage in, programs that transform behavior and reduce the likelihood of recidivism so that the individual can be safely released back into the community.
“The explosive growth of incarceration rates in the United States over the last 50 years has been a massive failure. Sky high incarceration rates have not improved public safety, and have disproportionately harmed women and people of color,” says Tara Huffman, director of OSI-Baltimore’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program. “Over the last 20 years, the staff at OSI-Baltimore, working with DPSCS and many other partners, have worked to bring an end to the scourge of mass incarceration. This report chronicles just one successful intervention that we hope provides a blueprint for other states looking to end the mass incarceration of their residents as well.”