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Money Well Spent: The Justice Policy Institute is dedicated to ending society’s reliance on incarceration and promoting effective and just solutions to social problems. Board of Directors David C. Fathi, Board Chair Tara Andrews Pastor Heber Brown III Katharine Huffman Jody Kent Peter Leone, Ph.D., Treasurer Joseph Tulman Staff Tracy Velázquez Executive Director Amanda Petteruti Associate Director Ellen Tuzzolo Associate Director Southern Initiatives Keith Wallington Program Manager Nastassia Wa
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   Money Well Spent: How positive social investments will reduce incarcerationrates, improve public safety, and promote the well-being of communities. Executive Summary   The Justice Policy Institute isdedicated to ending society’sreliance on incarceration and  promoting effective and just solutions to social problems.  Board of Directors David C. Fathi, Board ChairTara AndrewsPastor Heber Brown IIIKatharine HuffmanJody KentPeter Leone, Ph.D., TreasurerJoseph Tulman Staff  Tracy VelázquezExecutive DirectorAmanda PetterutiAssociate DirectorEllen TuzzoloAssociate DirectorSouthern InitiativesKeith WallingtonProgram ManagerNastassia WalshResearch AssociateJason FensterCommunications Associatefor Public RelationsPaul AshtonResearch AssistantKellie ShawOperations CoordinatorJasmine Greene and Kate HathewayAlabama Correctional Case ReviewersSarah LyonsNational Emerson Hunger Fellow1012 14th Street, NW, Suite 400Washington, DC 20005Phone: 202-558-7974Fax: 202-558-7978www.justicepolicy.org Poverty does not create crime, nor is limited wealth and income necessarilya predictor of involvement in the justice system; however, people with thefewest financial resources are more likely to end up in prison or jail. And theeffects of an economic crisis like the one we are now experiencing aremagnified for people with less income and wealth.For this reason, the Justice Policy Institute chose to explore the connectionbetween poverty and incarceration. Crime is down across the country, yetarrests and prison populations continue to increase, and disproportionatelyaffect low-income communities and communities of color. This reportfocuses on the impact and overarching theme of poverty and its effects on aperson’s life chances, as well as factors that have an influence on likelihoodof justice involvement, such as housing, education, youth development,treatment, and employment. We conclude that through focusing on thewell-being of communities and individuals, we will have the greatest impacton both public safety and poverty. State spending patterns indicate a priority of law enforcement andincarceration over vital public programs and support services.   As a resultof policing practices and sentencing changes that have the greatest impacton people of color and those with lower incomes, the United States islocking up more of its residents than ever before and holding them forlonger periods of time. From FY2005 to FY2009, state spending oncorrections increased 25 percent nationally, more than any otherexpenditure. States spend more than $53 billion per year on corrections. 1  Research shows that investing in services and programs that keep peopleout of the justice system is more effective at improving public safety andpromoting community well-being than investing in law enforcement. 2   Key Findings      2 Source: National Association of State Budget Officers, State Expenditure Reports 2005-2009 (Washington, D.C.: NASBO). Much of the increased incarceration and racial disparities in the justice system stems from drugarrests. The number of people incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses increased 1,299 percentfrom 1980 to 2006, with the biggest increases occurring in the 1980s. 3 While use of illicit drugs iscomparable among African Americans and whites, 4 African Americans, who comprise 12.2 percent of the general population, 5 made up 35 percent of those arrested for drug offenses in 2008 6 and 44percent of people in state prisons for drug offenses in 2006. 7 The disproportionate enforcement of druglaws in communities of color leads to more people of color in the criminal justice system and in prison; 8  for those ending up with a conviction on their record, they now must overcome the collateralconsequences that can impede their economic success. Drug law enforcement is also primarilyresponsible for the increasing number of women, particularly women of color, in prison across the U.S.Drug offenses now account for about 28 percent of women in state prisons (up from one in 10 in 1979 9 ),compared with just 19 percent of men. 10   Investing in appropriate mental health and substance abuse treatment can improve public safety andreduce justice involvement.   Research has shown that socio-economic status impacts directly on rates of mental illness, as well as indirectly through the impact of economic hardship on low- and middle-income groups. 11   People with untreated mental illness may also be more likely to be involved in the justice system; over half of people in prisons and jails report mental illness of some kind, compared to25 percent of the general population. 12 And people who cannot access drug treatment in the communityare more likely to be arrested on a drug-related offense. People entering prison have higher rates of chronic health, substance abuse, and mental health problems than the general population. 13  Furthermore, without access to appropriate medical and mental health treatment while incarcerated orupon re-entry, a person may be more likely to end up back in prison. Criminalizing homelessness reinforces poverty and homelessness.   Most states have implemented lawsspecifically directed toward the punishment of people who are homeless, such as vagrancy, loitering andpanhandling, as they seek to “push out” this population to another jurisdiction; this can result in morepeople being admitted to jails. Punishment for violating these laws can result in steep fines orincarceration: about half of people who have experienced homelessness have also spent five or more 24.1%18.2%7.6%18.5%25.3%0%5%10%15%20%25%30%Elementary &SecondaryEducationHigher Education Public Assistance(TANF, etc.)Medicaid Corrections    P   e   r   c   e   n   t   c    h   a   n   g   e    i   n    e   x   p   e   n   d   i   t   u   r   e     (   F   Y   0   5  -   0   9    ) From 2005 to 2009 state spending on corrections grew faster than anyother expenditure.    3days in a city or county jail. 14 About 16 percent of incarcerated people had experienced homelessnessprior to arrest; 15 these individuals are significantly more likely to have both a mental illness and asubstance addiction, which frequently go untreated in the community. 16   Stable housing is one of the most significant factors affecting the risk of involvement in the justicesystem. Lack of quality, affordable housing has been linked with poor life outcomes, including decreasededucational performance, exacerbation of health problems, and increased justice involvement. 17 Yet cityand state investments in housing are decreasing, having an adverse effect on families and public safety. Youth of color are disproportionately impacted by the justice system. Across the country, racialdisparities in the justice system persist; for youth this means lasting impacts on life trajectories andbarriers to future economic success. Youth self-report participating in illegal behaviors at similar ratesacross racial and ethnic groups; 18 yet youth of color, who represent only 16 percent of total populationunder 18, make up 40 percent of those in U.S. juvenile justice facilities. 19   Investments in education can reduce incarceration rates, improve public safety and promotecommunity well-being.   The likelihood of criminal justice involvement decreases as educationattainment increases. 20 As adults, children who received a high-quality kindergarten experienced higheremployment rates and earnings, lower rates of drug use, fewer interactions with the criminal justicesystem, and lower incarceration rates. 21 Additionally, states with higher high school graduation ratesand college enrollment have lower crime rates than states with lower educational attainment levels. 22  Despite its benefits, spending on education by states has not grown at the same rate as correctionsspending 23 and many young people are not receiving adequate education. Out-of-school activities can create positive opportunities for youth. Studies show that youth whoparticipate in after-school activities are less likely to engage in certain risky behaviors and are morelikely to have higher levels of academic achievement and self-esteem than youth who do not. 24 Mostcrime committed by youth occurs during the after-school hours between 3 pm and 6 pm, 25 and illegalbehaviors tend to increase during the summer when youth are out of school and do not have as manyscheduled activities. Finding appropriate and engaging activities for youth during these times, includingafter-school programs and employment, can reduce the chances that a young person will engage inillegal activities that lead to justice involvement and the negative consequences that result. Job training and employment are critical to a person’s success in the community. Increasedemployment is associated with positive public safety outcomes; states with lower rates of unemployment also have lower crime rates. 26 Conversely, high rates of incarceration in a community arealso associated with reduced job opportunities, creating a toxic cycle of poverty, unemployment, andincarceration. 27 People who are incarcerated are more likely to report extended periods of unemployment and lower wages than people in the general population. Providing job training andopportunities for both youth and adults is an effective strategy both for increasing public safety andstrengthening communities. And as jail time can reduce the probability of employment by between 15and 30 percent, 28 increasing the availability of jobs for people returning to the community from prison isalso critical.    4 Focus law enforcement efforts on the most serious offenses rather than quality of life offenses.  Reducing the number of arrests and subsequent detentions of people for low-level and quality of lifeoffenses like trespassing, loitering or possession of marijuana will not only open up resources for morepolicing of serious or violent offenses, but it will reduce the number of people who will the face theserious consequences associated with justice involvement as a result of minor offenses.  Address racial and income disparities in arrest and incarceration practices. Across the country, peopleof color and those of lower-income are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated than other racial andethnic groups or people with higher income, despite similar offense-rates. States and localities shouldevaluate arrest policies that target these groups and bring more people into the justice system. Increase access and funding for affordable and supportive housing. Increasing the access and fundingfor affordable and supportive housing would not only result in less expense incurred by jail stays, butwould also greatly increase the quality of life of many people struggling with homelessness, includingchildren and youth, who are particularly affected by lack of housing. Improve access to quality education for all children and invest in special education services forchildren who need it. Education is one of the most important investments that can be made in a child,as it opens doors to the future. All youth, regardless of race or income-level should be afforded a qualityeducation. As youth with special education needs may be more likely to end up in the justice system,providing early education specifically tailored to these youth can help improve graduation rates and thelikelihood of success later in life.  Invest in afterschool and recreational programs for youth. As the majority of youth offenses occur inthe off-school hours, providing constructive activities for youth during this time will improve the safetyof youth and of communities and provide youth the chance to expand their horizons with differentactivities, including sports, the arts and other extra-curricular opportunities. Improve systems of community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment. Treatmentbased in the community is both more effective and more cost-effective than treatment in the justicesystem. Providing treatment to people before they come into contact with the justice system can helpincrease public safety, improve the lives of individuals with mental health or substance abuse problems,and save money in the long run. And as most youth in the juvenile justice system either have a mentalhealth condition or have experienced trauma, addressing youth’s needs before they become involved inthe justice system can save them the often traumatic experience of incarceration, and improve theirlives and futures. Increase employment opportunities for those who most need them. Access to job training for peoplein lower-income communities can open doors to more jobs and careers, leading to better life outcomesand less justice-involvement. And as having a job is one of the most important keys to success after Recommendations  
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