Criminal Justice Budgeting Series


Criminal Justice Budgeting Series

This series of briefs provides state legislators and staff with an overview of the interplay between state budgets and the criminal justice system. These briefs identify opportunities for policy changes that can be fiscally beneficial while still ensuring public safety and encouraging successful outcomes for individuals involved with the justice system. 

Criminal Justice Budgeting Briefs

Handcuffs iconReducing Spending, Preserving Public Safety in Criminal Justice Budgets

Strained state budgets have reignited the conversation on effective ways to ensure public safety while reducing spending.

Mugshot iconReducing Admissions to Jails and Prisons

States can consider several policy options to reduce the use of prisons and jails while still holding people accountable and promoting public safety. This brief explores policy options such as improving responses to individuals with mental health needs and making changes to criminal offenses, including decriminalizing and “defelonizing” some offenses. 

Gavel iconShortening Length of Stay

States have taken a variety of actions to shorten jail and prison stays. Changes to sentencing policies include the elimination of some mandatory minimums and streamlining the process of parole release. States have also expanded opportunities for release by adopting sentence credits and geriatric parole. 

Handcuffs iconReducing Revocations of Community Supervision for Rule Violations

There are a number of policy changes specific to rule violations that states can explore to reduce the budgetary impacts of correctional control while not compromising public safety. Some of those changes include limiting arrest and incarceration prior to revocation hearings, limiting the use and capping the length of incarceration, and authorizing the use of non-prison sanctions.


This series was prepared under a partnership project of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Criminal Justice Program in Denver and The Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project, Washington, D.C. 

Additional Resources