Criminal and Juvenile Justice

After a four-decade surge in incarceration, the United States – with about 5 percent of the world’s population – now holds more than 20 percent of its prisoners. Policymakers at all levels of government have been implementing reforms that aim to reduce the use of incarceration, save money for taxpayers, and maintain public safety. MDRC has built evidence on a range of these reforms at all points in the justice system, from the pre-trial phase to prisoner reentry.


Pretrial release and detention decisions for defendants are increasingly guided by risk assessments guided by data, which are intended to counteract biases but have the potential to introduce new biases and perpetuate racial disparities. This research brief describes the approach taken by MDRC to understand, assess, and address these biases.


Effects of New Jersey’s Criminal Justice Reform

In 2017, New Jersey implemented sweeping changes to its pretrial justice system. This report is one of a planned series on the impacts of those changes. It describes how the reforms affected short-term outcomes including arrests, complaint charging decisions, release conditions, and initial jail bookings.


A Feasibility Study of the Bridges to Pathways Program

In a program to reduce criminal justice involvement, participants received mentoring, case management, subsidized internships, and the opportunity to earn a high school credential. The program reduced the arrest rate for felonies and violent crimes but did not affect overall rates of arrest or incarceration, educational or training certification, or employment.