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.

Highlights
Report

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.

Brief

An Alternative to Bail

Defendants awaiting trial and unable to post bail are often detained in local jails unnecessarily, disrupting their lives and adding to costs for taxpayers. To address this situation, New York City has launched a program that gives judges the option to release some defendants to community-based supervision. 

Report

Final Results from the Transitional Jobs Reentry Demonstration

Transitional jobs programs in four Midwestern cities substantially increased short-term employment by providing jobs to many ex-prisoners who would not otherwise have worked. However, the gains faded as men left the transitional jobs, and the programs did not increase unsubsidized employment nor did they reduce recidivism.