Criminal Justice (Crime)

Beyond Confinement

prison cell

It's not just the mentally ill and chemically dependent, but more violent, ruthless young criminals that are challenging the system.

For more than 100 years, California has been a beacon of progress, leading the pack on many positive social, environmental and economic trends that would come to sweep the country.

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Tough - But Smart - On Crime

balance scales

As incarceration rates continue to climb across the country, states are trying to "get smart."

With prisons brimming over in many states, legislators throughout the country are searching for alternative solutions that would reduce recidivism and the number of first-time offenders.

"We will be seeing a lot of proposals for comprehensive treatment programs, rehabilitation and education," says Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo). "For some people and some crimes prison is inevitable, but in many cases there are more preferable options."

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Criminal Justice in America


The United States has the world's highest incarceration rate, with one in 32 adults currently or previously behind bars. Is it a failure of the system or a failure of society? U.S. lawmakers are rethinking policies on both.

When a judge hands down a prison sentence, it's the criminal who's supposed to "get the message." However, as more sentences have been handed down throughout the United States, oftentimes by judges bound by mandatory sentencing laws, it's lawmakers who are finally getting the message: It's not about prisons or mandatory sentences anymore, it's about principles.

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Criminal Behavior: Defeating Crime with Choice

Policy Today magazine cover
July 5, 2006

"Creating opportunity for the poor comes down to one word—'choice.'"

Generations of policymakers have grappled with how to provide children in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods a chance at a better life. But are we looking at the problem the right way?

Washington State Senator Adam Kline (D-Seattle), who represents some of the poorest and richest citizens in the state, strikes a familiar note: "For many kids, education is the only remaining way out the cycle of poverty," Kline said. In this sense, education remains "the great equalizer" of American society.

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Policy, Prisons and People

Men discussing a document

In thinking about our criminal justice system, the challenge is to ask the right questions.

This issue of PT looks into the legal principle of criminal justice. As with any policy discussion, the initial challenge is to ask the right questions: (1) What is our criminal justice system trying to accomplish? (2) Why? (3) How do we get there?

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Good Behavior: Behavioral Health Courts and Criminal Justice

Policy Today magazine cover
July 5, 2006

In the midst of California's prison crisis, San Francisco's Behavioral Health Court is working to keep mentally ill people out of jail—by giving them the kind of treatment they need most.

Judge Mary Morgan finishes speaking, and the defendants exit the courtroom to the sound of applause.

One by one, the members of the courtroom audience make their way to the lectern and speak in calm, collegial voices with Judge Morgan.

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