In a new discussion paper for the Brookings Institute/Hamilton Project by Public Policy professor Michael A. Stoll and Steven Raphael of the University of California Berkeley, suggest that there is room to reduce U.S. incarceration rates without significantly impacting crime.
The U.S. incarceration rate today exceeds its own historical norms as well as the rates of all other developed countries. At the same time, there is growing public awareness of the steep economic and social costs of crime and mass incarceration, including heavy fiscal costs on government budgets leading to higher taxes and effects on prisoners’ families and communities.
Stoll and Raphael have come up with a three-part proposal that they argue will reduce both incarceration and crime rates.
The three parts are:
- Reforms to state truth-in-sentencing laws that lengthen sentences
- Revisions to federal and state mandatory minimum sentencing policies that can be disproportionately harsh
- Creation of fiscal incentives for local governments to consider the cost of incarceration
To read the full discussion paper titled “A New Approach to Reducing Incarceration While Maintaining Low Rates of Crime” and the policy brief, go here.
Stoll and Raphael are presenting their analysis at the Brookings/Hamilton Project forum titled “The Economic and Social Effects of Crime and Mass Incarceration in the United States” on Thursday, May 1 from 1:00-4:30 p.m. EST.
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin will open the forum, followed by a roundtable to discuss the Stoll-Raphael paper. There will also be a discussion between Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) on the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014.
You can register for the live webcast here.
For updates on the event via Twitter, follow @hamiltonproj and join the conversation using #SmartSentencing.