Why Now




In the past thirty years, we’ve seen unprecedented growth in our nation’s incarcerated population. Although violent crime has decreased, the U.S. now has the highest incarceration rate in the world with over 2.3 million inmates in federal, state, and local prisons. The social, economic and political costs of wasted human potential, families torn apart, and entire generations disenfranchised by the justice system are incalculable.

Violent crime is not responsible for the dramatic growth in the prison population. The unprecedented rise has been propelled primarily by state-level policy changes including the increased criminalization of drug-related activity, lengthening time in prison through mandatory minimum sentencing and corresponding reductions in the use of early release and services.

This increase has created the need to develop the next generation of system leaders to address these growing issues. As such, the overall purpose of the Justice Policy Network is to create a community of individuals involved in criminal justice reform and to increase the number of and effectiveness of leaders in the government sector advancing a smart justice agenda.