Fixing the Criminal Justice System by Changing Incentives

The Brennan Center is advancing a new idea on how to reform the criminal justice system: changing the incentives for all criminal justice funding.

December 3, 2012

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, the New York Times hosted an important Sunday Dialogue on our nation's costly overreliance on incarceration. The Brennan Center's Justice Program Director Inimai Chettiar joined the conversation, explaining, "The cumulative economic and societal toll of mass incarceration far exceeds the billions that government spends on prisons annually. This huge opportunity cost is hidden. It drags down those caught in the system, and the harm reverberates throughout the economy and affects the rest of us."

Many current legislative reforms just chip away at this problem. Inimai proposes a novel idea for policy reform: "changing the incentives for all criminal justice funding." She gives one example: "[M]any federal dollars go to local police based on the number of arrests. Instead, if police departments were financed based on reducing dangerous crime, we would have a more rational, efficient system."

To read the full piece, click here.

Check out Huffington Post for more of Inimai's analysis on the societal toll of overincarceration, including the difference between fiscal arguments and true economic ones.

Best regards,

Michael Waldman
President, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law