Skip Navigation

The Bren­nan Center for Justice’s new proposal, Reform­ing Fund­ing to Reduce Mass Incar­cer­a­tion, sets out a plan to link federal grant money to modern crim­inal justice goals – as a tool to promote innov­at­ive crime-reduc­tion policies nation­wide.

The proposal, dubbed by the authors “Success-Oriented Fund­ing,” would recast the federal govern­ment’s $352 million Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assist­ance Grant (JAG) Program, by chan­ging the meas­ures used to determ­ine success of its grants. It reflects a broader proposed shift in crim­inal justice programs at all levels of govern­ment. The proposal could be imple­men­ted without legis­la­tion by the U.S. Depart­ment of Justice.

Success-Oriented Fund­ing would hold grant recip­i­ents account­able for what they do with the money they receive. By imple­ment­ing direct links between fund­ing and proven results, the govern­ment can ensure the crim­inal justice system is achiev­ing goals while not increas­ing unin­ten­ded social costs or widen­ing the pipeline to prison.

“Fund­ing what works and demand­ing success is crit­ical, espe­cially given the stakes in crim­inal justice policy. This report marks an import­ant step toward imple­ment­ing this fund­ing approach in Wash­ing­ton and beyond,” said Peter Orszag, former Director of the White House Office of Manage­ment and Budget, who wrote the propos­al’s fore­word.

The Bren­nan Center convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of crim­inal justice experts, includ­ing lead­ers in law enforce­ment, prosec­utors and public defend­ers, former govern­ment offi­cials, and federal grant recip­i­ents, to provide comments on the perform­ance meas­ures in the proposal. Parti­cipants included David LaBahn, pres­id­ent of the Asso­ci­ation of Prosec­ut­ing Attor­neys; John Firman, research director of the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­ation of Chiefs of Police; and Jerry Madden, a senior fellow at Right on Crime.