Criminal Justice Reform
A growing number of chambers are championing Criminal Justice Reform efforts that reduce crime, improve public safety, develop the workforce pipeline, and build thriving and inclusive regional economies. Smart Justice addresses criminal justice issues holistically by examining the connections between crime and opportunities for education, employment, mental health and addiction support, housing and social inclusion. Chambers are uniquely positioned to build cross-sector coalitions that address key issues such as corrections reform
, diversion and prevention, sentencing reform, justice reinvestment, education, and employment.
- Chambers Get Smart on Justice - Chamber Executive magazine (Spring 2016). Learn why and how chambers are addressing smart justice.
- ACCE QuickPoll: Smart Justice and Fair Chance Hiring - This June 2017 survey was designed to help gain understanding in chamber involvement in smart justice reform efforts, including engaging businesses in fair chance hiring (i.e., hiring practices that expand employment opportunities for individuals with criminal records and help them contribute to the local economy).
Sentencing and corrections reform has not been a traditional business issue, but in many states spending on corrections is one of the top line expenses. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, state and local governments must take a critical look at all spending and reevaluate the return on investment. Several states, including Oklahoma City, Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, and Arkansas, have passed sentencing and corrections reform in recent years to curb costs and maintain public safety.
- Chamber Case-Studies & Samples:
- The Oklahoma City Chamber is a member of the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force, comprised of 21 stakeholders, including legislators, judges, law enforcement officials, business leader, and others. The task force conducted a comprehensive analysis of Oklahoma’s criminal justice system and developed recommendations in accordance with the governor’s executive order.
- The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s research report from 2010 on the state budget trends revealed that Kentucky’s corrections budget was growing much faster than total state government spending. One alarming trend was that Kentucky was spending an average of $52.14 a day to house an inmate in a state-operated facility, which meant that taxpayers were spending more than $19,000 per year to keep one inmate locked up. In 2014, the Chamber released another report 5 years later (2014) detailing how they addressed the trendsetting issue.
Prevention & Diversion
- Restorative Justice in U.S. Schools - Report by the WestEd Justice & Prevention Research Center which shows how restorative justice practices are implemented in schools, and lay the groundwork for future research, implementation, and policy.
Rehabilitation: In-Custody Education & Job Training
Reentry & Employment
Within three years of release, about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested. Employment is a key factor in reducing recidivism. Many chambers are helping their members grow their talent pool by hiring people with criminal records. Policies and programming that support reentry include:
- Employment: Fair Chance Hiring
- The Greenville Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a Workforce Forum and Re-entry Job Fair, where businesses learned the biggest issues facing businesses in hiring, highlighting the work being done by local agencies, and pushing the policy fixes they believe need to be made.
- Chamber Case-Studies & Samples:
- Los Angeles Area Chamber:
- The LA Chamber conducted focus groups during March-June 2016 with 17 HR/Talent Acquisition Directors from trusted L.A. businesses to learn more about hiring practices regarding formerly incarcerated individuals and those that have criminal records.
- The Los Angeles Area Chamber was charged, as part of a taskforce co-chaired by a Chamber staff member, with developing a plan to launch public-private partnerships to help Prop 47-eligible—a California ballot initiative passed in November 2014 that reclassified several non-violent, non-serious felonies as misdemeanors—residents access employment and training services, mental health, healthcare, housing and substance abuse counseling. See the Report here.
- JAX Case Study: Project Open Door:
- The JAX Chamber helped lead Project Open Door, an initiative that encourages employers to delay criminal background inquiries until the interview process, also known as “ban-the-box”.
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| Criminal Justice ReformPage Created: 10/2/2017 Last Updated: 11/9/2017