California

Policy Reforms

Spurred by a U.S. Supreme Court mandate to reduce overcrowding in its state prisons, recent policy reforms have led to significant declines in California’s imprisonment rate. The California legislature passed Assembly Bill 109, the Public Safety Realignment Act, in 2011. Realignment shifts the responsibility for incarcerating and supervising people convicted of non-violent, non-sex, and non-serious crimes from the state to the counties. To reduce incarceration further, voters passed two ballot initiatives. In 2012, voters revised California’s notoriously harsh three-strikes law with Proposition 36. In 2014, voters passed Proposition 47 – a measure that changed drug possession and several low-level theft offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, applied the changes retroactively and requires the state to reallocate the prison cost savings this generates into prevention and treatment. California’s prison population is now 22 percent below its peak in 2007 and as many as one million people are eligible to remove old felonies for Prop 47 offenses from their criminal records.

Partners

Californians for Safety and Justice works with crime survivors, law enforcement, business and community leaders, policymakers, health professionals, educators and crime-prevention experts in California to replace prison and justice system waste with solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars. Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a sister organization to Californians for Safety and Justice, also a project of the Tides Center.

At a Glance

329/100K Residents Imprisoned
  • California has the second largest prison population in the U.S., with more than five times as many people imprisoned in 2015 (129,205) as in 1980 (23,264).
  • Corrections spending grew more than 330 percent from 1985 to 2015, almost four times the rate of growth in education spending over the same time period.
  • Imprisonment rates for black people are nearly nine times those of white people, and Latino people are imprisoned at almost twice the rate of white people.

Florida

Policy Reforms

Challenges in the Florida prison system related to misconduct and neglect have increased attention to sentencing and corrections issues. Along with discussions about conditions of confinement, policy debates related to Florida’s high imprisonment rates have emerged. Recent reforms to mandatory minimums for prescription drugs and assault passed the legislature by overwhelming bipartisan majorities and bills that would revise other mandatory minimum sentences, incentivize participation in rehabilitation programs, and expand release eligibility were introduced last session. Advocates and leaders are also engaged in efforts to restore voting rights for the nearly 1.6 million people who have been disenfranchised because of a felony conviction.

Partners

Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is building partnerships with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to restore voting rights for people with old felony records and supporting efforts to build capacity for other justice reforms. ASJ is also working with the Walking One Stop to bring resources to underserved communities impacted by crime and violence. Additional ASJ partnerships are being explored and developed as our efforts are just beginning.

At a Glance

496/100K Residents Imprisoned
  • Florida has the third largest prison population in the U.S., with more than five times as many people imprisoned in 2015 (101,424) as in 1980 (20,211).
  • Corrections spending grew 276 percent from 1985 to 2015, more than four times the rate of growth in education spending over the same time period.
  • Imprisonment rates for black people are nearly four times those of white people.
  • Nearly 1.6 million people cannot vote, hold office, or serve on a jury due to laws that disenfranchise those with a felony record.

Illinois

Policy Reforms

Illinois has a long history of various reform efforts in both its juvenile and adult corrections systems. In 2004 state legislators passed Redeploy Illinois, a program to provide financial incentives to counties that reduce youth imprisonment. The legislation resulted in the closure of two youth prisons. In 2009, the legislature created the Adult Redeploy Illinois program to offer incentives to counties to reduce the number of adults convicted of nonviolent crimes that are sent to state prison. Still, crowding in adult prisons has continued. In response to prison crowding and increasing corrections spending, in 2015 Governor Bruce Rauner (R) created the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.  The goal of the Commission is to make recommendations for sentencing and policy reforms that will reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent (approximately 12,000 people) by 2025, while advancing public safety.

Partners

Alliance for Safety and Justice is providing support and information to the Commission and community partners to help advance justice reform. Alliance for Safety and Justice is also partnering with Padres de Angeles, the Workers Center for Racial Justice and others to elevate crime survivor experiences and leadership in advancing new safety priorities that can bring health, prevention and rehabilitation to communities impacted by crime and violence.

At a Glance

360/100K Residents Imprisoned
  • Illinois has the eighth largest state prison population in the U.S., with more than four times as many people imprisoned in 2015 (46,240) as in 1980 (10,724).
  • Corrections spending grew 96 percent from 1985 to 2015, eight times the rate of growth in education spending. Higher education spending declined 21 percent over the same time period.
  • Imprisonment rates for black people are nearly nine times those of white people, and Latino people are imprisoned at nearly twice the rate of white people.

Michigan

Policy Reforms

In 2002, Michigan became the first state in the nation to repeal mandatory sentences for most nonviolent drug offenses. Today, Michigan leaders and advocates are rethinking long sentences and advancing reforms to expand opportunities for parole. In 2014, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) signed legislation creating the Criminal Justice Policy Commission, a 12-member body tasked with evaluating the state’s sentencing laws and corrections practices and developing recommendations for improvement. Other recent legislative developments include a host of criminal justice reform bills introduced in the 2015-2016 legislative session that would reform both sentencing and parole laws. HB 4138, which establishes presumptive parole for those who pose minimal risk to public safety, passed out of the Michigan House of Representatives and is currently being considered by the Senate.

Partners

Alliance for Safety and Justice is partnering with Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS) to build support for justice reforms such as parole reform and long sentences, and to elevate the voices of crime survivors in advancing new safety priorities. CAPPS aims to work with business leaders, law enforcement, health professionals, clergy and crime survivors to advance a new way forward for Michigan’s justice system and replace justice system waste with solutions that create safer streets and save public dollars.

At a Glance

429/100K Residents Imprisoned
  • Michigan has the ninth largest state prison population in the U.S., with nearly three times as many people imprisoned in 2015 (42,628) as in 1980 (15,124).
  • Corrections spending grew 209 percent from 1985 to 2015, while education spending declined over 50 percent over the same time period.
  • Imprisonment rates for black people are nearly seven times those of white people.
  • Average prison time served in Michigan is the longest in the nation; more than one-third (38.7%) of the Michigan prison population is serving a minimum sentence of 15 years or longer.

Ohio

Policy Reform

In 2011, Governor John Kasich (R) signed HB 86 into law to change Ohio’s felony sentencing laws and juvenile justice system. The legislation aimed to reduce the number of people in prison for technical violations of probation supervision, increase the use of community corrections and improve juvenile justice. Ohio’s prison population declined following HB 86 but recently began increasing again and is projected to grow further. In 2015, the Ohio General Assembly created the Ohio Criminal Justice Recodification Committee to simplify the penal code and make recommendations to revise criminal statutes and other sentencing laws.

Partners

Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is working with the Ohio Transformation Fund, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and coalition partners to organize crime survivors and build community support for justice reform. Along with other justice reform advocates in the state, ASJ and its partners are working to advance policy reforms that will replace justice system waste with new safety priorities, shrink Ohio’s growing prison population, and provide access to victims services and treatment programs in the underserved communities hit hardest by crime and violence.

At a Glance

449/100K Residents Imprisoned
  • Ohio has the fourth largest state prison population in the U.S., with nearly four times as many people imprisoned in 2015 (52,233) as in 1980 (13,489).
  • Corrections spending grew 161 percent from 1985 to 2015, more than eight times the rate of growth in education spending. Higher education spending declined one percent over the same time period.
  • Imprisonment rates for black people are nearly six times those of white people, and Latino people are imprisoned at 1.2 times the rate of white people.

Texas

Policy Reforms

In recent years, Texas has received national media attention for successfully slowing its prison population growth. Several rounds of multifaceted legislative reform over the last decade led to an expansion of earned time credits, more funding for community-based treatment programs, and limits on the use of imprisonment for technical violations of probation supervision. Additional opportunities remain to reform Texas’s safety and justice policies. The imprisonment rate began to level in the early 2000s and has declined in recent years — partly as a result of accelerated population growth in the state — but is still seventh highest in the nation.

Partners

Alliance for Safety and Justice is partnering with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the Texas Smart on Crime Coalition to shrink waste in the Texas justice system, advance alternatives to incarceration and push for new safety priorities rooted in crime prevention and rehabilitation. Additional ASJ partnerships are being explored and developed as our efforts are just beginning.

At a Glance

568/100K Residents Imprisoned
  • Texas has the largest state prison population in the U.S., with more than five times as many people imprisoned in 2015 (157,251) as in 1980 (29,892).
  • Corrections spending grew 312 percent from 1986 to 2015, nearly three times the rate of growth in education spending over the same time period.
  • Imprisonment rates for black people are four times those of white people, and Latino people are imprisoned at 1.2 times the rate of white people.
  • Nearly 80 percent of people admitted to Texas prisons in 2016 were sentenced for a nonviolent offense.