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States Seek New Sentencing and Corrections Practices as Costs Rise

WASHINGTON—States are reforming sentencing and corrections practices in an attempt to reduce costs as they continue to face a difficult fiscal climate. State Efforts in Sentencing and Corrections Reform, a new issue brief released today by the National Governors Association (NGA), outlines effective strategies states can use to reduce spending while maintaining or improving public safety.

State Efforts in Sentencing and Corrections Reform
examines how states can significantly curtail corrections spending by reducing the number of nonviolent and low-risk individuals going to prison; moving offenders who can be safely managed outside prison sooner; and keeping ex-offenders out of prison through improved prisoner reentry practices. The brief also highlights evidence-based practices that states can use to create more effective and cost efficient corrections systems.

“The growth of prison populations within the last 25 years has resulted in spending increases that states can no longer ignore as they struggle to balance budgets,” said David Moore, director of the NGA Center for Best Practices. “This issue brief gives states a valuable analysis of strategies that have decreased costs and that will help them improve public safety.”

Using state examples to highlight best practices, State Efforts in Sentencing and Corrections Reform:

  • Provides an overview of the cost drivers behind corrections expenditures;
  • Identifies critical decision-points for states to consider as they take action to reduce costs;
  • Examines challenges to enacting reforms; and
  • Makes recommendations for states wanting to improve public safety with fewer resources.

This publication was supported by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project.

National Institute of Corrections Library

The National Institute of Corrections maintains a library of resources on topics including Administration, Offender Services, Special Offenders, Facilities, Personnel, Statistics and Research, Funding, Offender Management, and Reentry.  Click here to link to the NIC Library.

Gender-Responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders

Women now represent a significant proportion of all offenders under criminal justice supervision in the United States. Numbering over one million in 2001, female offenders make up 17 percent of all offenders under some form of correctional sanction. In reviewing current knowledge of the ways in which gender shapes behavior and life circumstances, this report offers guiding principles, general strategies, and guidelines for improving the criminal justice system’s response to women offenders.

As part of the National Institute of Corrections’ “Women Offender’s Initiative”, the Gender-Responsive Strategies Project was created through a cooperative agreement with Barbara Bloom and Associates. This project brings together current research and practitioner expertise with the overall goal of improving policy and practice regarding the female offender. By examining the context of women’s lives and the involvement of women in the criminal justice system, this report provides the empirical and theoretical foundation for developing gender- and culturally responsive policy and practice.

Click here to download the report.

NIJ Introduces New Research Publication

The National Institute of Justice introduces Research Report Digest, a new publication that presents findings from research funded by the National Institute of Justice. Here you will find brief descriptions of studies in a variety of criminal justice disciplines, such as criminology and forensic sciences and evaluations of technologies that are used in the law enforcement and corrections fields. The entries include links to the full research reports.

Research Report Digest will keep you informed of all NIJ's final grant reports and supplements information that is published in the NIJ Journal and on the NIJ website. Please let NIJ know if you have questions about these NIJ studies.


Preventing Prison Riots

Preventing Prison Riots  is a report to the National Institute of Corrections that highlights what was learned from prison administrators and from reports, interviews, and historical data from the eight incidents. A brief description of each event is followed by a discussion of strategies and procedures to use during the three phases of a prison riot: before, during, and after. (written by Useem, Camp and Camp).

Addressing Sexual Violence in Prisons: A National Snapshot of Approaches and Highlights of Innovative Strategies (2006)

John Blackmore, Rebecca Naser, Megan Schaffer, Janine M. Zweig

Before the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003, it was not clear the extent to which state departments of corrections (DOCs) were addressing sexual violence in systematic ways. Little information existed about what strategies were being put into practice in prison systems across the country. PREA has changed the way DOCs are addressing prison sexual violence (PSV). The purpose of the current collaborative project between ASCA and the Urban Institute was to provide a national snapshot of DOC initiatives to address PSV, as well as to identify specific practices that seemed to be, in the absence of formal evaluations, particularly promising or innovative in nature. Practices were identified related to policy development, prevention, investigation and prosecution, victim services, staff training, documenting incidents, and funding.

Click here to download a copy of Addressing Sexual Violence in Prisons.

Reposted with permission of the Urban Institute, Washington DC 20037,

Roadmap to Seclusion and Restraint Free Mental Health Services (2007)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has established seclusion and restraint as a priority area and has developed a National Action Plan to reach our vision of seclusion and restraint free mental health services.  Click here for the SAMHSA report

Prison Staffing Analysis

This manual provides guidance that “will enable an agency staffing administrator to set up an agency staffing analysis unit and produce a staffing analysis report for an entire agency” (p.xi). Chapters contained in this publication are: introduction -- correctional staffing issues; securing staff deployment policy; two models for managing the security staffing function; agency staffing unit; basic tasks of a staffing analysis; orchestrating the staffing analysis; agency and facility characteristics that influence staffing; operations and activities schedules that influence staffing; developing the shift relief factor; security post planning; special guidelines for evaluating housing units; the impact of staff scheduling on staffing; staffing calculations; developing a staffing report; implementing recommendations and monitoring results; staffing considerations for women’s correctional facilities; and staffing considerations for medical and mental health units. Pertinent forms are also included. Prison Staffing Analysis.

Alternatives for Financing Prison Facilities

Financing alternatives for new prison facilities are examined. This paper includes the following sections: executive summary; general information; public finance vehicles for prison construction -- general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, and certificates of participation; federal tax considerations; public/private combinations; and a matrix summary. A draft preface by Camille G. Camp and George M. Camp is also included.  Alternatives for Financing Prison Facilities.

Monitoring Correctional Services

The process of monitoring contractually operated correctional facilities is described. The following sections are contained in this manual: introduction; reasons for monitoring; selecting and training monitors; the monitor's role; monitor's duties; measuring compliance; measuring contract compliance; compliance reports; corrective action plans; and conclusion. Appendixes include model training topics, a health care appraisals form, and a visitation audit form.   Monitoring Correctional Services.

Contracting for Correctional Services

The drafting of a request for proposal (RFP) and the negotiation of a contract with a private correctional facility are examined. Sections of this manual include: introduction and general overview; the manual's scope; the decision to contract; the request for proposal -- importance and contents; contents of the RFP; the RFP process; the evaluation process; drafting the contract; contract content -- general administration, operational requirements, fiscal management, contract monitoring/enforcement/and dispute resolution, physical plant, security and control, food service, inmate activities and programs, health care, inmate rights and privileges, staffing and training, and indemnification and litigation; and conclusion. Contracting for Correctional Services.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus

Practical strategies for improving an agency's response to mentally ill individuals can be found in these policy statements. Chapters address: involvement with the mental health system; contact with law enforcement; pretrial issues, adjudication, and sentencing; incarceration and reentry; improving collaboration; training practitioners and policymakers and educating the community; elements of an effective mental health system; and measuring and evaluating outcomes. Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Policy Manual for Victim Services Programs in State Correctional Agencies

A compilation of sample policies on victims' rights and services is presented. This handbook begins with results from a survey regarding the current status and scope of corrections-based victim services. This section is followed by policies that guide the delivery of victim services. Policies cover: office or division of victim services; victim advisory councils; victim restitution; victim notification recommendations; protecting victims from intimidation, harassment, or harm; victim confidentiality; workplace violence and staff victimization; child victim visitation restrictions; "Impact of Crime on Victims" classes or programs for offenders; crime victim involvement; statement on victims of crime; and victim and community outreach plan.  Policy Manual for Victim Service Programs in State Correctional Agencies.

Report of the Reentry Policy Council

This Report Preview explains what the Report of the Re-Entry Policy Council offers to different audiences, introduces some of its principal ideas, and explains how to navigate the approximately 600-page document. The exact text and numbering of policy statements in this Preview is subject to change in the final report Report of the Re-entry Policy Council - Report Preview

Reentry Best Practices - 2004

Under the leadership of then President Reginald Wilkinson, ASCA published in 2004 Reentry Best Practices: Directors' Perspective.  Reentry best practices were submitted by member agencies and clustered into five substantive areas.  They were: (1) Prison Programs; (2) Transitional Programs; (3) Mental Health/Substance Abuse Programs; (4) Community Supervision Strategies; and (5) Promising or Unique Services.  Reentry Best Practices

Members' Correctional Best Practices - 2000

In 2000, 33 ASCA members submitted articles on a wide range of correctional practices they thought produced the best results.  ASCA staff edited and organized the submission into a publication entitled Best Practices in Corrections.  ASCA - Correctional Best Practices: Directors' Perspective