Ohio’s incarcerated population quadrupled between 1978 and 2014, increasing from 13,125 to 52,500 — 450 in every 100,000 Ohioans. Still more served time in jail.
Tens of thousands of Oklahomans enter the justice system each year and come out with thousands of dollars in debt to the court. For low-income Oklahomans, paying this debt can be nearly impossible as they attempt to rebuild their lives, and it often leads to a cycle of poverty and repeated incarceration. This system does nothing to improve public safety, but incurs high costs to law enforcement, jails, and the courts.
The costs charged to criminal defendants have skyrocketed in recent years as Oklahoma has increased numerous fees. Because most defendants can’t afford the skyrocketing charges, only a tiny fraction of criminal court debt is collected – by one judge’s estimate, only 5 to 11 percent.
Proposition 57, which will appear on the November 8, 2016 statewide ballot, would amend the California Constitution to give state officials new policy options for reducing incarceration. The measure also would amend state law to require youth to have a hearing in juvenile court before they could be transferred to adult court. This Issue Brief provides an overview of this ballot measure as well as its potential impact on the state correctional system and the state budget. The California Budget & Policy Center neither supports nor opposes Prop. 57.
Criminal justice reform is long overdue in Georgia. Last fall the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House created a Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform. In November the Council released a special report, which contained an analysis of the criminal justice problem as well as recommendations. I was pleased to see that many of the recommendations offered in the Council’s report were similar to the recommendations GBPI proposed four years ago in the report, Tough on Crime and the Budget: The Difficult Balancing Act of Public Safety and Skyrocketing Prison Costs. The GBPI report documented the history of public policy choices that led to the dramatic growth in costs of the state prison system. To bring those costs under control, we recommended sentencing reform, evidence-based alternative sentences, and increased use of drug and mental health courts.