Criminal Justice Reform, and More from CRS

06.30.15 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

“The number of people incarcerated in the United States has increased dramatically over the past three decades,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes, from around 419,000 inmates in 1983 to about 1.5 million inmates in 2013.

“The incarceration rate increased from 179 per 100,000 people in 1983 to 478 per 100,000 in 2013,” generating mounting concerns about the economic, social and other consequences of the criminal justice system.

At this point, CRS says, “incarceration has probably reached the point of diminishing returns.”

The new CRS report looks at approaches to reducing the imprisoned population. “Because courts and correctional officials make decisions about who can safely be diverted from incarceration or granted early release, they may benefit from tools that can help in this process. Actuarial risk assessment tools may serve this purpose. Needs assessments could also help correctional officials make determinations about which offenders need higher levels of supervision and/or rehabilitative programming.”

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News. See Risk and Needs Assessment in the Criminal Justice System, June 22, 2015.

Other new reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Procedures for Congressional Action in Relation to a Nuclear Agreement with Iran: In Brief, June 23, 2015

Greenhouse Gas Pledges by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, June 29, 2015

U.S. Capital Markets and International Accounting Standards: GAAP Versus IFRS, June 25, 2015

Sex Trafficking: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law, June 25, 2015

Appointment and Confirmation of Executive Branch Leadership: An Overview, June 22, 2015

Judiciary Appropriations FY2016, June 18, 2015

Last year, CRS introduced a new product line called CRS Insights, which offers short takes on topics of current news or policy interest, typically with links to more substantive analyses by CRS and others. CRS Insights are provided to Congress “in response to client feedback asking for shorter, more succinct products that are published quickly in response to fast-moving public policy issues.”

Some of the latest examples include the following.

Economic Crisis in Greece, CRS Insights, June 29, 2015

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Votes Down Chief Executive Election Reform, CRS Insights, June 22, 2015

Vietnam’s Communist Party Chief to Make Historic First Visit to Washington, CRS Insights, June 19, 2015

Protecting Civil Aviation from Cyberattacks, CRS Insights, June 18, 2015

South Carolina Church Shooting and Hate Crime in the United States, CRS Insights, June 18, 2015

France: Efforts to Counter Islamist Terrorism and Radicalization, CRS Insights, June 29, 2015

Sifting Domestic Terrorism from Other Illegal Activity, CRS Insights, June 24, 2015