New report highlights actionable solutions that will shrink the size of the carceral system, promote public safety, and take action on racial inequities in the system.
November 29, 2023
Today, as lawmakers across the country prepare to return to state capitol buildings for their 2024 legislative sessions, we released our annual list of high-impact, legislative reforms that are ripe for victory in the new year. These 32 reforms will reduce the number of people behind bars, make communities safer, and take steps to address long-standing racial inequities in the system.
The reforms focus on nine areas:
- Expanding alternatives to criminal legal system responses to social problems;
- Reducing the number of people entering the “revolving doors” of jail and prison;
- Improving sentencing structures and release processes to encourage timely and successful releases from prison;
- Reducing the footprint of probation and parole systems and supporting success on supervision;
- Protecting incarcerated people and families from exploitation;
- Promoting physical and mental health among incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people;
- Giving all communities equal voice in how our justice system works;
- Setting people up to succeed upon release; and
- Eliminating relics of the harmful and racist “war on drugs.”
Each reform provides critical context about the problem it seeks to solve, points to high-quality research on the topic, and highlights solutions and legislation that have already been implemented in other states.
The list is not intended to be a comprehensive platform. Instead, we’ve curated it to offer policymakers and advocates straightforward solutions that would have a significant impact without further investments in the carceral system. We particularly focused on reforms that would reduce the number of people needlessly confined in prisons and jails. Additionally, we selected reforms that have gained momentum in recent years, passing in multiple states.
We sent this list to over 600 lawmakers, in all 50 states, from all political parties, who have shown a commitment to reducing the number of people behind bars in their state and making the criminal legal system more just and equitable. As they craft legislation for the upcoming legislative sessions, this list will provide them with actionable solutions to some of the most pressing challenges their states’ criminal legal system faces.
The full report is available at: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/winnable2024.html.