The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any developed country. American prisons house 2.3 million inmates, or nearly a quarter of the world’s prison population, and another 4.5 million people are on probation or parole. Shockingly, seven in ten re-offend once released from prison. Any adequate solution to America’s public safety catastrophe must focus on rehabilitating formerly incarcerated individuals and helping them return to peaceful lives.
Competitive, metrics-driven innovation will inspire real leadership, weed out bad ideas, and spread practices that ultimately strengthen our most vulnerable communities.
EARNED TIME CREDITS: Parolees and probationers today must attend a litany of ineffective service programs and are rewarded for irrelevant milestones that fail to reduce crime. States should encourage parolees and probationers to do the one thing that evidence shows most benefits them and their communities— work. Those who can find and retain jobs get rewarded by reduced time on community supervision. This streamlined, more effective reward system creates strong incentives for individuals to safely reintegrate with society and take responsibility for their lives.
PERFORMANCE-BASED FUNDING: Conditions on parole and probation set people up to fail, contributing to higher crime and deteriorating public safety. Strong financial incentives that reward success will lead to bottom-up solutions that create safer communities and lower incarceration spending—for example, sharing the direct savings from lower incarceration costs with parole and probation offices that reduce the percentage of individuals on community supervision programs who are re-incarcerated.
USE OF FORCE REPORTING: Policing is a very difficult job, which is why data-driven improvements are critical to safer communities. However, without reliable use-of-force data, it is difficult for law enforcement leadership to make improvements. And misleading information on mainstream and social media leads to the public losing trust in quality departments. States should require law enforcement agencies to collect and report department-level use-of-force incident data to a state and federal database. Just as data on criminal activity is necessary to fight crime, data on police use-of-force incidents is required to increase trust in law enforcement.