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Improving Budget Analysis of State Criminal Justice Reforms: A Strategy for Better Outcomes and Saving Money

28 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2012  

Michael Leachman

Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP)

Inimai M. Chettiar

New York University (NYU) - Brennan Center for Justice; New York University School of Law

Benjamin Geare

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: January 11, 2012

Abstract

Across the nation, state governments are mired in economic crisis. Over 40 states had billions in budget shortfalls last year. With this grave reality in mind, this report, Improving Budget Analysis of State Criminal Justice Reforms, details how a change to the way states perform cost evaluations of legislation could help alleviate the strain. It explains how enacting certain criminal justice reforms will significantly reduce states’ runaway spending on prisons. This problem can be somewhat alleviated if states have in place adequate procedures to accurately research and draft the “fiscal notes” legislatures require to accompany such proposals. These fiscal notes contain official state estimates of the costs and savings to state treasuries of proposed laws under consideration by the legislature. This report finds that the vast majority of states do not accurately perform these fiscal notes in a way that is useful to legislators. It recommends a series of best practices for states to provide accurate fiscal information to state legislators. By following these best practices, states can calculate both short- and long-term costs and cost savings for criminal justice bills and easily provide that information to legislators, who can then know the true fiscal implications of reform proposals before voting on them. States can use these best practices to reform their fiscal note process. Advocates and the public can also use these best practices to better understand the accuracy of fiscal notes currently produced by states and the reach of their usefulness.

Keywords: criminal justice, state budget, fiscal note, fiscal responsibility, mass incarceration, sentencing, prison population, fiscal analysis

Suggested Citation

Leachman, Michael and Chettiar, Inimai M. and Geare, Benjamin, Improving Budget Analysis of State Criminal Justice Reforms: A Strategy for Better Outcomes and Saving Money (January 11, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1991413 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1991413

Michael Leachman

Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) ( email )

204 N. First St. Suite C
P.O. Box 7
Silverton, OR 97381-0007
United States

Inimai M. Chettiar (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Brennan Center for Justice ( email )

161 Avenue of the Americas
12th Floor
New York, NY 10013
United States

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Benjamin Geare

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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