The Connecticut Center for Social Innovation works with government and providers to locate funding to finance evidence-based solutions in criminal justice reform.

It is difficult to fully capture the damage done to American society by our criminal justice system. American’s exploding prison population is not making us safer, but is producing almost exactly the opposite result:

  • It has voraciously consumed huge segments of young adults from our minority populations, resulting in criminal histories that render them almost unemployable upon release.
  • It has left some two million children in homes without fathers, while single moms have become sole breadwinners desperately trying to feed and care for their children.
  • It has forced governments to spend incredible amounts of money that could have been productively spent in a host of other socially productive pursuits.

We’re all familiar with the statistics.

  • The United States has only 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners.
  • One in every three Americans has a criminal history.
  • Prison populations in the U.S. exceed 1.6 million, and at the end of 2012, more than 1 out of every 50 adults in the United States was on either probation or parole.
  • The cost of keeping an individual in a U.S. prison averages $30,000 a year, and increases to as much as $40,000 to $50,000 a year in many states.

Certainly, crime is intolerable in a civilized society, and criminals should be punished. But shouldn’t we think twice about the fact that in the world shaped by America’s criminal justice system, a child’s zip code is a more accurate determinant of his risk of incarceration than his behavior?

“To understand America’s epidemic of over-incarceration, it helps to look at countries that don’t have our problem. In Germany and the Netherlands, for example, incarceration rates per capita are nearly 90 percent lower than in the U.S.: 79 per 100,000 residents in Germany and 82 per 100,000 residents in the Netherlands, compared to 716 per 100,000 residents in the United States. As those numbers suggest, German and the Netherlands do things a bit differently.”

Mike Riggs – The Atlantic Cities

Fortunately, the tide of public opinion is turning on this American social policy that future generations may well label one of our nation’s greatest pubic failures. Citizens and government officials are increasingly pressing for systems which prevent crimes, rather than create conditions which cause them.

Criminal justice is a key area for developing Pay-for-Success projects. Not only are providers innovating and documenting positive results, but given the horrendous cost of incarceration, the return on investment of successful programs is tremendous. In the following are key publications and reports which point toward the use of pay-for-performance solutions to improve results and save public dollars in the criminal justice arena.

Criminal Justice Reform
Reports and Publications