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Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Prioritizing Prison Resources Where They Matter Most

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2019
2 pages

Each state presents a summary report on how it has used the principles of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) to prioritize prison resources where they matter most during the COVID-19 pandemic.



The JRI is a partnership with state leaders from all three branches of government committed to using their criminal justice data to examine and improve their systems by implementing proven, innovative, and comprehensive approaches to reduce crime, cut recidivism rates, and shift resources to more effective public safety strategies. Throughout the country, governors, courts, corrections systems, and law enforcement agencies are implementing new policies to limit the spread of coronavirus in jails and prisons. Officials in at least 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal prison system have adopted policies to reduce their incarcerated populations during the pandemic. Efforts range from police departments issuing summonses instead of making arrests for lower-level offenses to fast-tracking parolee hearings to early releases for individuals who are nearing the end of their sentences or who have pre-existing medical conditions. Governors in at least 11 states have issued executive orders that block new transfers into state prisons, allow early release for some prisoners, or both. At the county level, judges, prosecutors, and public defenders are working together to release low-risk pretrial detainees and inmates.