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Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Administration and Congress

February 14, 2011

Fair — The criminal justice system should provide access to all safeguards the U.S. Constitution, state and federal laws, and common sense afford. These include, but are not limited to, guaranteeing the presumption of innocence, providing effective representation, ensuring equal access to a fair day in court for all people charged with crimes, and eliminating policies that create improper disparities. Fairness also requires working towards a restorative justice system that treats victims with respect and compassion

Accurate — Efforts to keep communities safe and secure must include safeguards to ensure that law enforcement policies and practices employed to investigate, charge, and prosecute individuals are appropriate and accurate.

Effective — The goal of the criminal justice system is to protect the public and punish blameworthy activity. Therefore, to ensure an effective system, policymakers should evaluate any proposed recommendation to determine that it increases public safety and regulates conduct that truly rises to a level that justifies its criminalization. 

Proven — All strategies and practices that the criminal justice system employs should meet evidence-based or, when possible, scientific standards of effectiveness. This will improve law enforcement, investigation, prosecution, and punishment. It will also increase the public faith and trust in the system by minimizing mistakes and improving results. 

Cost-Efficient — State and federal governments annually spend billions of dollars on the criminal justice system. In the current economic climate, the country literally cannot afford to maintain a status quo that fails too many. While justice cannot be reduced to dollars and cents on a balance sheet, any changes to the system must be considered with concern for cost efficiency.

Read the whole report.


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