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Out With the Old: States Continue to Rethink Justice Strategies

Forecast ’24: Legislatures in 2024 will continue battling the opioid crisis and crimes of opportunity while expanding approaches that help keep justice-involved people from getting entrenched in the system.

From battling the fentanyl crisis to dealing with ongoing catalytic converter thefts, lawmakers continue to rethink criminal justice policy.

Legislatures are focusing resources on community-oriented approaches that prioritize public safety and prevent people from becoming more deeply involved with the justice system.

Hot Topic: Tailoring Public Safety Strategies

Crimes and their associated penalties are a perennial issue in legislatures. Auto thefts and the opioid crisis are currently top priorities.

Most states have considered legislation in the last few years to address the increase in catalytic converter thefts by enacting requirements for the sale and purchase of unattached catalytic converters. There also has been an uptick in legislation toughening penalties for stealing a car.

In their battle against opioids, states are increasing criminal penalties for possessing, selling and trafficking fentanyl. Emerging drug threats like xylazine, or “tranq,” a strong non-opioid tranquilizer used to sedate horses, deer and other large animals, also are getting lawmakers’ attention and being added to state drug schedules. These efforts coincide with public health approaches, including prevention, treatment and recovery options.

Trending: Reforming Juvenile Justice

Juvenile justice policy requires balancing healthy youth development and community safety with the need to hold young offenders accountable.

ACTION: Indiana and Minnesota recently passed comprehensive juvenile justice reform.

Trending: Collecting Criminal Justice Data

Collecting data across the justice system continues to be of primary interest. Legislatures are requiring uniform data collection and reporting by local agencies to understand who is in the system and how they move through it, to inform policymaking decisions and to allocate state resources.

Hot Topic: Expanding Front-End Justice

When it comes to police accountability, states continue to expand their role in policing policy with more than 6,700 introduced bills in the last four years.


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