Decarceration Strategies: How 5 States Achieved Substantial Prison Population Reductions

1. Measures to Get Justice Reforms Underway and Maintain Momentum
• High-profile leadership, bipartisanship and inter-branch collaboration (all 5 states).
• Leveraging outside technical assistance and research findings on evidence-based practices (all 5 states).
• Community engagement as a foundation of successful reentry and community reintegration (CT, MI, RI).
• Pilots or staged implementation as innovation incubators (CT, MI).
2. Decreased Prison Admissions via Fewer New Prison Commitments
• Crime reduction helped in all 5 states – but reduced crime is no guarantee of less imprisonment.
• Reductions in criminal penalties or adjusting penalties according to seriousness (all 5 states).
• Elimination of various mandatory minimum sentences, sometimes retroactively (CT, MI, RI, SC).
• Creation or expansion of specialty courts and/or other alternatives to incarceration (CT, MI, MS, SC).
• Modifications of responses to at-risk youth to disrupt school-to-prison pipeline (CT, SC).
3. Decreased Prison Admissions via Reduced Incarceration for Failure on Community Supervision
• Implementation of graduated intermediate sanctions for non-criminal violations (CT, MI, MS, SC).
• Engagement with community service providers and employers before release from prison (CT, MI, RI).
• State and local collaboration regarding case management and supervision (CT, MI, RI).
• Greater focus on intermediate outcomes (CT, MI, RI).
• Imposition of shorter terms of community supervision (MS, RI, SC).
4. Increased Prison Releases via Increasing the Feasibility and/or Efficiency Of Release
• Incorporation of dynamic risk and needs assessment into justice processes (all 5 states).
• Inclusion of releasing authorities in planning/implementation (CT, MI, RI, SC).
• Expanded initiatives to overcome barriers to the feasibility of release (CT, MI, RI, SC).
• Conditional release approval earlier in the process before eligibility for release (CT, MI, RI).
• Feedback to releasing authorities regarding outcomes to build trust in reentry (CT, MI, RI).
• Centralized reentry planning, trained specialists, and a goal of release at first opportunity (CT, MI, MS).
• Simplified and/or expedited release processing especially when backlogs in processing (CT, MI, RI).
5. Increased Prison Releases via Requiring Less Time Served Before Eligibility for Release
• Allowance or expansion of sentence credits through a variety of measures (CT, MS, RI, SC).
• Reduction of criminal penalties even though still prison-bound (CT, MI, SC).
• Modifications to sentence enhancements for aggravating factors (MS, SC).
• Reductions in time served prior to eligibility for repeat paroles after revocation (MI, MS).