Foreword: Criminal Justice Responses to the Economic Crisis

11 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2012 Last revised: 7 Dec 2012

See all articles by Caren Myers Morrison

Caren Myers Morrison

Georgia State University - College of Law

Date Written: August 10, 2012


The epidemic rate of incarceration in the United States, long documented, has come at significant financial and social cost. But the global financial crisis has forced legislators and government officials to face issues that they had previously been able to ignore: whether incarceration is the best use of resources to deal with non-violent offenders, whether former inmates should be sent back to prison for violations of conditions of their post-conviction release, rather than for new criminal activity, whether sentences should be so long that the prison population becomes increasingly geriatric. At the same time, taxpayers are beginning to realize that they are not always getting a decent return on their corrections dollar. Crime, and the fear of it, is no longer dominating the domestic agenda. And fiscal conservatives are edging out “tough on crime” rhetoric with proposals to be “smart on crime.”

The goal of the Symposium, held in Atlanta on January 27, 2012, was to bring together a number of scholars and practitioners to see how the moment might be leveraged to produce sustainable change. Cognizant of the ephemeral quality of reform that is solely cost-driven, the participants proposed a variety of solutions that could have staying power, even after the good times return. While controversial, large-scale reforms may remain out of reach, perhaps an accumulation of incremental changes might add up to an overall shift in focus, away from the punitive overreliance on incarceration, and towards a more just, evidence-based and cost-effective justice system.

Keywords: mass incarceration, criminal justice reform, economic crisis

Suggested Citation

Morrison, Caren Myers, Foreword: Criminal Justice Responses to the Economic Crisis (August 10, 2012). Georgia State University Law Review, Vol. 28, No. 4, 2012; Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-25. Available at SSRN:

Caren Myers Morrison (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

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