Policy Recommendations for Meeting the Grand Challenge to Promote Smart Decarceration

Forty years of mass incarceration have resulted in a bloated criminal justice system that levels damaging effects on some of the most vulnerable and oppressed individuals, families, and communities in the United States. The unprecedented American phenomenon of mass incarceration has been fueled by an array of incoherent policies that, despite stated goals, have not fostered public safety or public well-being.1 What lies before us is a historic opportunity to promote smart decarceration by building social capacity to reduce incarceration rates in ways that are effective, sustainable, and socially just. To succeed, smart decarceration requires policy innovations that substantially reduce the use of incarceration, redress existing disparities in the criminal justice system, and maximize public safety and well-being.