Criminal Justice Reform

The Challenge

Criminal justice reform requires us to address the root cause of why individuals become involved in this system to begin with – without compromising community safety. The criminal justice system must be made to work with the public health system. Here is what we know:

  • Our prisons are full of individuals with a substance use disorder. Almost 2/3 have a substance use disorder, and an additional 1/5 were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense. That accounts for 85% of the US prison population.
  • Serving time in prison alone doesn’t get rid of criminal behavior. Over 2/3 of all prisoners are arrested again within 3 years; 83% within 9 years. Looking specifically at those serving time for drug related offenses, 77% were arrested for a non-drug crime within 9 years.
  • The total cost to society (justice system and victims) for drug related crime equaled $113 billion; estimates for the cost of treatment (health costs, hospitalizations, and government specialty treatment) was $14.6 billion.
85The percentage of US prison population suffering from a substance use disorder or under the influence of drugs at the time of the offense.

What We Need

Utilize effective interventions along the full justice continuum that minimize arrest, conviction, and incarceration.

The Blueprint Committees will reimagine how a full range of complimentary multi-system collaborations involving justice, treatment, and community services effectively and economically support health *and* safety, preventing and minimizing initial and repeat encounters with the justice system.

Prioritize community-based services that address individual risks, needs, and responsivity.

There is a growing list of evidence-based and promising practices for individuals involved with the justice system, and the programs that serve them. Coordinating clinical and community services that address the substance use disorder, dynamic risk factors associated with justice involvement, and social determinants of health provide the best path to long term recovery outside of the justice system.

Utilize drug courts and community corrections programs

Drug treatment courts are specialized courts that focus on rehabilitation with accountability—and they are highly effective. But their reach is still limited. The Foundation will research how to bring these programs to scale. Likewise, community corrections today has failed to reduce drug use and recidivism—despite evidence showing programs like HOPE Probation and similar strategies can reduce criminal behavior, drug use, and incarceration.

Standards & Resources