Smart on Crime: Reforming the Criminal Justice System for the 21st Century   [open pdf - 594KB]

"At the direction of the Attorney General, in early 2013 the Justice Department launched a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system in order to identify reforms that would ensure federal laws are enforced more fairly and--in an era of reduced budgets--more efficiently. Specifically, this project identified five goals: [1] To ensure finite resources are devoted to the most important law enforcement priorities; [2] To promote fairer enforcement of the laws and alleviate disparate impacts of the criminal justice system; [3] To ensure just punishments for low-level, nonviolent convictions; [4] To bolster prevention and reentry efforts to deter crime and reduce recidivism; [5] To strengthen protections for vulnerable populations. As part of its review, the Department studied all phases of the criminal justice system--including charging, sentencing, incarceration and reentry--to examine which practices are most successful at deterring crime and protecting the public, and which aren't. The review also considered demographic disparities that have provoked questions about the fundamental fairness of the criminal justice system. The preliminary results of this review suggest a need for a significant change in our approach to enforcing the nation's laws. Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it."

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U.S. Department of Justice: http://www.justice.gov/
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Listed on September 4, 2013 [Critical Releases]