18 Dec

North Carolina police officers may need to arrest people, but is jail or prison always the right path for offenders? It’s not always, some believe. This is borne out by the statistics, which show that certain changes made in justice reform can significantly reduce prison populations and still improve public safety.

North Carolina’s state legislators passed the Justice Reinvestment Act in 2011. This modernized many of the correctional practices and sentencing laws that had been used by the state in the past. By 2016, it was shown that crime rates had dropped by 10 percent in response to the simple changes. On top of that, the prison population had dropped around 10 percent, too. What’s even more impressive is that those sent back to prison because of probation violations decreased by 65 percent.

Why does reform make sense?

Reform makes sense because it’s often a waste of money to send people to prison without the techniques needed to recover or heal. For example, if a person is committing drug crimes, money is better spent on addiction treatment and psychological care rather than a prison term. Why? It reduces the likelihood that the person will offend again.

Drug crimes are of particular importance when it comes to choosing the right path. Those who commit these crimes may be victims of the opioid epidemic. These people need help, not prison sentences. They often do better with counseling, treatment and recovery programs. This also helps people return to daily life with the skills needed to continue to give back and reduce crime rates locally.