The First City has been doing criminal justice right since Mayor Giuliani, and this story from the New York Daily News reports on current programs.
“It is now common knowledge that New York is America’s safest big city. However, many people don’t know that it’s also one of the least incarcerated. As Mayor Bloomberg noted in his recent State of the City address, “While the incarceration rate across America has increased by 6% over the past decade, here in New York City, we’ve reduced it by 32%.”
“This isn’t just good news for New Yorkers — it should also serve as a wake-up call for communities across the country. The United States currently has the world’s highest incarceration rate, with state prison budgets topping $46 billion and one out of every eight state workers employed in corrections. In today’s tough fiscal environment, we simply can’t keep wasting money on unnecessary incarceration.
“So how exactly did New York City manage to reduce both crime and incarceration? Smart policing certainly had a lot to do with it, and the New York City Police Department has been at the forefront of driving down crime.
“But something more is happening in the Big Apple. Specifically, the city is targeting supervision and services to people with criminal records who pose a high or moderate risk of reoffending, while redirecting precious resources — including incarceration — away from those who are much more likely to stay on track.
“For example, the city’s network of treatment-oriented courts has been diverting incarceration-bound defendants from jail and into treatment, with positive public safety outcomes. An employment program targeted at parolees returning to the city from prison successfully reduced re-offense rates by helping them get jobs. And the city’s Probation Department has significantly increased the rate at which people on probation complete their term by going the extra mile with clients who are having problems and requesting early discharge for clients who have performed well.
“The reduction in incarceration has saved taxpayers a bundle without jeopardizing public safety. If New York City’s incarceration rate had risen over the last decade at the national rate of 6% instead of declining by 32%, approximately 21,500 more city residents would be locked up right now, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
“In his “Person of the Year” interview for Time magazine, President Obama noted that a “great huge chunk” of America’s prison cells, and the costs associated with them, are consumed by non-violent offenders. He also lamented that “If you look at state budgets, part of the reason that tuition has been rising in public universities across the country is because more and more resources were going into paying for prisons, and that left less money to provide to colleges and universities.”
“On the other side of the aisle, the conservative organization “Right on Crime” issued a statement endorsed by Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush, Grover Norquist, and other prominent conservatives urging moderation in the use of incarceration in favor of evidence-based practices that, “Align incentives with our goals of public safety, victim restitution and satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness, thereby moving from a system that grows when it fails to one that rewards results.”