Can Federal Dollars Reduce Mass Incarceration?

December 11, 2013

The nation’s vast criminal justice system is filled with incentives that can steer or deter behavior, for good or for ill—however, instead of spurring innovative law enforcement policies, today’s fiscal incentives often result in a system that, despite some recent attempts at reform, continues to run on autopilot. A new Brennan Center policy proposal outlines a model in which federal funds can be used to promote criminal justice practices that not only reduce mass incarceration, but also improve public safety. This proposal of “Success-Oriented Funding” uses the power of the purse to promote more effective and just practices by conditioning government dollars on specific and measurable goals that drive toward a system of reduced crime, while making more efficient use of taxpayer money. A panel of experts and insiders discussed this creative new approach to criminal justice reform at a panel hosted at the National Press Club.