Thursday, August 17, 2006

The More, The Better

Compared to the research and support organizations devoted to other policy areas like education, mental health, children's issues, etc., criminal justice really hasn't had the same juice to bring studies and data to public debate. The Vera Institute remains the source on sentencing and corrections studies, the National Center for State Courts doesn't produce nearly enough of its excellent work, and the Washington State Institute for Public Policy is the gold standard for state-funded analysis on crim justice and other policies that every state should have. They all do great work, but we need 40 of them. Maybe we're getting there. Here comes the Public Policy Institute of California, funded by William R. Hewlett, producing an excellent report on CA corrections, "Who’s In Prison? The Changing Demographics of Incarceration." Exactly the kind of nonpartisan report that that state (every state, actually) needs to inform its policymakers, especially facing the problem they are in CA. Among many things that stand out is the fine work they do statistically on making the coming black hole of costs of aging offenders undeniable. Let's hope other benefactors will use this as a model for the good that having more money than you can spend before you die can do.

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