Feb 4, 2009

The Todd Clear 5-Point Policy Agenda

At this week's 4th Annual Symposium on Crime in America at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Todd Clear had a few interesting suggestions for how we might "reinvent" the criminal justice system. On the suggestion that we will see an enhanced focus on mass incarceration in the next four years, Professor Clear had some ideas for how the US should reduce the number of admissions to prison and decrease the length of stay for those already inside.

1. Cut everybody's sentence -- across the board -- by six months.
2. Do not incarcerate people for drug-related crimes.
3. Do not incarcerate people for technical violations of parole or probation.
4. "Realign incentives:" force judges or parole officers to pay for those people they want to incarcerate.
5. Establish a reinvestment strategy that closes prisons and reinvests the money saved in the communities that produce the highest numbers of prisoners.

These are certainly progressive ideas -- are they realistic? Would these strategies work at scale, in all 50 states? This thread is open for comment ...