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Release: United States Continuing to Overspend on Police, Despite Decreasing Crime Rates

June 27, 2012 Comments off

Release: United States Continuing to Overspend on Police, Despite Decreasing Crime Rates
Source: Justice Policy Institute

Despite crime rates being at their lowest levels in more than 30 years, the U.S. continues to maintain large and increasingly militarized police units, spending more than $100 billion every year, according to a report released today by the Justice Policy Institute. Police forces have grown from locally-funded public safety initiatives into a federally subsidized jobs program, with a decreasing focus on community policing and growing concerns about racial profiling and “cuffs for cash,” with success measured not by increased safety and well-being but by more arrests.

Rethinking the Blues: How we police in the U.S. and at what cost, highlights the negative effects of over-policing by detailing how law enforcement efforts contribute to a criminal justice system that disconnects people from their communities, fills prisons and jails, and costs taxpayers billions. The report also highlights both alternatives to improve public safety and examples of effective community policing efforts.

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System Overload: The Costs of Under-Resourcing Public Defense

October 26, 2011 Comments off

System Overload: The Costs of Under-Resourcing Public Defense (PDF)
Source: Justice Policy Institute

Public defense systems serve millions of people in the United States every year. Nearly four out of five people charged with a crime are eligible for courtappointed counsel. Yet, despite the obvious need for a working public defense system to serve so many clients, many public defense systems across the country have been in a state of “chronic crisis” for decades.

The defender systems that people must turn to are too often completely overwhelmed; many dedicated defenders simply have too many cases, too little time and too few resources to provide quality or even adequate legal representation. Failing to provide the constitutionally guaranteed right to effective counsel, regardless of one’s ability to pay, is not simply a denial of justice, it is costly to individuals, families, communities and taxpayers.

Individuals who do not receive quality defense may be more likely to end up behind bars or with a criminal conviction that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Families are torn apart when a loved one is sent to prison or can no longer work due to the collateral consequences of a conviction. Communities suffer both in terms of public safety and through unnecessarily losing friends, neighbors and co-workers who are locked up. And taxpayers bear the monetary costs when under-resourcing legal defense results in more—and more expensive— incarceration.

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