In every state, there are far more public safety needs than there are funds to invest in addressing those needs. States need to identify and prioritize their public safety needs and invest in agencies, programs, and services that will yield the best results at the lowest cost.

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) helps states extract and analyze data from often-siloed criminal justice agencies to design and implement innovative, data-driven, and comprehensive approaches to shift resources toward more cost-effective public safety strategies. Between 2010 and 2017, the 22 states that pursued a JRI approach reinvested $557 million in strategies to increase public safety by using four common reinvestment vehicles: upfront investments, annual appropriations, legislatively-mandated investments, and intra-agency and interagency allocations.[48] But JRI is just one approach that states can use for greater flexibility to invest in new initiatives or strategies to improve public safety. For example, every state receives millions of dollars each year in federal funding to support public safety efforts, but states don’t always use those dollars to maximize impact. Used strategically, federal funding can help pilot new approaches, fill critical gaps in state funding, and help states make the biggest improvements in public safety.

States have shown that policymakers can reinvest effectively in public safety if they take the following steps:

  • Action Item 1: Identify funding priorities and allocate resources accordingly.
  • Action Item 2: Regularly evaluate how to fund public safety priorities.
  • Action Item 3: Leverage federal resources to drive innovation.

Jeremy Welsh-Loveman and Samantha Harvell, “Justice Reinvestment Initiative Data Snapshot.”