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Legal reform group says lawmakers should adopt foreign justice policies

Many groups have proposed new legal reform policies in an effort to reduce the number of incarcerated Americans, which would lower costs for taxpayers.

As many states look to tighten their budgets in the wake of the recession, students who are about to earn their master’s degree in criminal justice may see some significant changes in the sentencing and correction industries over the coming years.

For example, the legal reform group Justice Policy Institute (JPI) recently proposed several major policy alterations in its study entitled Finding Direction: Expanding Criminal Justice by Considering Policies of Other Nations. The report cites imprisonment methods that are currently used in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany and England.

“Instead of relying heavily on incarceration, other countries successfully use community-based responses, treatment for addiction, and services to ensure that once a person is released from prison he or she does not return,” said Amanda Petteruti, associate director of JPI.

Among the proposals made by the JPI includes a call to reduce jail sentences, especially for drug convictions. Instead, these funds should be used to improve re-entry services for offenders, such as housing, employment and education programs, the study states.