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Criminal Justice Reforms Can Save Taxpayer Dollars, Hold People Accountable, ABA Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2012 – In a written statement for the record for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing titled “Rising Prison Costs: Restricting Budgets and Crime Prevention Options,” _ President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III posited whether federal spending on criminal justice is cost effective and evidence based, and whether more effective alternatives to prison exist.

“In the debate over addressing the country’s finances, many are rethinking our nation’s approach to criminal justice and corrections spending,” wrote Robinson.  “A growing number of states have done so on a bipartisan basis, in the name of fiscal responsibility, accountability and public safety.”

Specifically, Robinson wrote of the expansion of the prison system and increased incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders as areas ripe for reform. 

“Disproportionate investment in prison expansion has diminished attention to viable and fiscally sound alternatives to prison and weakened the concept that prison should be the sanction of last resort,” Robinson explained. 

The ABA president also wrote, “The federal government wastes precious taxpayer dollars when it incarcerates nonviolent offenders whose actions would be better addressed through alternatives that will hold them equally accountable at a substantially lower cost to taxpayers.”

Robinson continued by highlighting several bipartisan reforms at the state level that have been undertaken to increase public safety and reduce prison population, and offered concrete suggestions as to actions that the federal government could implement.

The prepared remarks can be found online.

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