Recent Developments in Sentencing and
Corrections Reform
Presentation to the Nevada Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice
January 27, 2014
Nancy Fishman, Project Director, Vera Institute of Justice
Alison Shames, Consultant, Vera Institute of Justice
January 27, Slide
2014 1
Presentation Overview
• Recent reform efforts
• Summary of policy trends
• Keys to success
Slide 2 • January 27, 2014
Vera Institute of Justice
Vera is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit center
for justice policy and practice.
“Making systems fairer and more effective through
research and innovation.”
Criminal justice projects include:
 Justice Reinvestment Project
 Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project
 Segregation Reduction Project
 National PREA Resource Center
Slide 3 • January 27, 2014
Recent reform efforts
Slide 4 • January 27, 2014
Recent Reform Efforts
At least 17 states have enacted comprehensive criminal
justice reform over the last four years.
Reform prompted by budget pressures, high prison
growth, evidence-based research, data-based inquiry
and solutions.
Slide 5 • January 27, 2014
Early Results
Kentucky
1/13-6/13: Prison population  by 10.7%
North Carolina
2011-13” Prison population  by 4,000
people
South Carolina
Closure of 1.5 prisons and cost savings of
$7.1 million (2011 and 2012).
Georgia
Upfront reinvestment of $11.6 million to
drug/mental health courts.
Louisiana
Oversight Committee created to focus on
implementation and measuring outcomes.
Ohio
Upfront reinvestment of $14.5 million to
strengthen felony probation supervision.
Slide 6 • January 27, 2014
Policy Trends
Slide 7 • January 27, 2014
Population and Cost Drivers
• Increasing incarceration rates
• Longer lengths of stay
• High rates of parole and probation revocations
• Inefficient community corrections practices
• Insufficient capacity for services
• Inefficient parole system
Slide 8 • January 27, 2014
Policy Trends
• Safely reduce prison populations
• Strengthen community supervision
• Expand community-based sanctions
• Support the reentry of offenders into community
• Make more-informed policy decisions
Slide 9 • January 27, 2014
Safely Reduce Prison Populations
• Sentencing reform
 Reclassifying offenses
 Modifying thresholds
 Amending mandatory minimums
• Earned and good time credits
• Expanded parole eligibility
Slide 10 • January 27, 2014
Strengthen Community Supervision
• Redefine agency goals and
officers’ roles
• Behavioral management
approach to supervision
• Implement risk and needs
assessment instrument
• Focus supervision resources on
high-risk offenders
• Provide services based on
offenders’ needs
Slide 11 • January 27, 2014
Expand Community-Based Sanctions
• Problem-solving courts
• Intermediate and graduated
responses
• Increase availability of
community-based treatment
Slide 12 • January 27, 2014
Support Reentry into Community
• Mandatory post-release
supervision
• Transitional leave programs
• Mitigate collateral
consequences
Slide 13 • January 27, 2014
More-Informed Policy Decisions
• Performance-based funding
and contracting
• Oversight committees
• Reporting on performance
and system outcomes
Slide 14 • January 27, 2014
Keys to Success
Slide 15 • January 27, 2014
Keys to Success
• Collaboration with key stakeholders
• Bold leaders
• Culture change
• Realistic expectations
• Use of data (accountability, oversight, etc.)
• Investment in evidence-based practices
Slide 16 • January 27, 2014