U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Prioritizing Prison Resources Where They Matter Most

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2019
2 pages

This paper explains and provides examples of how federal-state partnerships under the federal model of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) have resulted in “prioritizing prison resources where they matter most.”


A central goal for states participating in JRI is to use prison space to house those convicted of serious, violent, or repeat offenses. This increases the resources available for investment in more effective recidivism-reduction strategies. A key indicator of progress in this prioritization of prison space for the most dangerous offenders is a state’s prison population consisting mostly of inmates convicted of violent offenses compared with those convicted of nonviolent offenses. Four states that received technical assistance from the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) under federal funding have focused on four strategies. These strategies are to 1) create tiered penalties based on offense severity (violence); 2) focus recidivism-reduction resources on those most likely to reoffend; 3) prioritize earned time for those convicted of nonviolent offenses; and 4) expand parole eligibility for those convicted of nonviolent offenses. The nature and results of these JRI sentencing and corrections strategies are reported for Mississippi, Utah, Alaska, and Louisiana.

Date Published: November 1, 2019