Office of Justice Programs Office of Justice Programs
BJA Justice Reinvestment Initiative
BJA Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Rhode Island Map of Rhode Island

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Although Rhode Island had the third highest rate of people serving terms of probation in the nation in 2013, only 8 percent (or $15 million) of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections’ budget went to probation or parole services. 3
  • Pretrial admissions increased 10 percent between 2010 and 2014. 4
  • About two-thirds of sentenced admissions to incarceration were for nonviolent offenses (misdemeanor and felony) during the time period. 5
  • Governor Raimondo established the Justice Reinvestment Working Group in 2015 to lead the state’s justice reinvestment effort.
In 2008, Rhode Island adopted a justice reinvestment approach to analyze its criminal justice system. After the new statutes went into effect, Rhode Island’s three-year recidivism rate fell 6 percent for people released from prison in 2009. Moreover, between 2008 and 2014, the number of people incarcerated declined 17 percent.1 Regarding the 2008 undertaking as a success, state officials have decided to engage in a justice reinvestment approach again. With the third highest rate of adults on probation in the country, increasing pretrial admissions, and a high volume of inmates convicted of low severity crimes, Rhode Island decided to adopt a justice reinvestment approach to tackle these challenges.2 In July 2015, Governor Raimondo issued an executive order to establish a bipartisan, interbranch Justice Reinvestment Working Group. With intensive technical assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center), the Justice Reinvestment Working Group plans to assess Rhode Island’s corrections costs as well as drivers of the pretrial, probation, parole, and jail and prison populations, and propose data-driven policies in time for the 2016 legislative section.

Facing the third highest rate of adults on probation in the country, rising pretrial admissions, and an incarcerated population heavily composed of people convicted of lower-severity offenses, Rhode Island requested support from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The CSG Justice Center will provide intensive technical assistance to assess the drivers of the states’ correctional populations and facilitate the development of data-driven policy solutions to address them.

In July 2015, Governor Raimondo issued Executive Order 15-11 to establish the Justice Reinvestment Working Group. The working group, which includes members from all three branches of government and criminal justice system stakeholders, is tasked with leading the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) efforts. Along with the CSG Justice Center, the working group will review data-driven policy options and develop a framework available for the General Assembly’s consideration by early 2016.

Beginning in the spring of 2015, CSG Justice Center staff met with state officials and policymakers as well as criminal justice system stakeholders. Most of these discussions centered on introducing the justice reinvestment project and beginning to design the project scope in preparation for its July launch. Throughout Rhode Island’s justice reinvestment project, the CSG Justice Center will engage stakeholders extensively by meeting with superior and district court judges, police chiefs, probation and parole officers, behavioral health treatment providers, victims and their advocates, formerly incarcerated individuals and their advocates, and others.

In collaboration with the Justice Reinvestment Working Group, the CSG Justice Center is analyzing Rhode Island’s corrections populations and cost drivers. Preliminary analyses point to several factors driving growth. First, one-quarter of the people in Rhode Island’s Adult Correctional Institutions (ACIs) are awaiting trial, with pretrial admissions increasing significantly in recent years.6 Two-thirds of admissions to ACIs are for lower-severity crimes, a significant portion of which are nonviolent misdemeanors. Nearly half of individuals sentenced to ACIs are probation and parole violators, over one-third of them technical violations.7 While Rhode Island has a relatively low incarceration rate, it has the third highest rate of people on probation in the country.8 Despite this high rate, Rhode Island’s investment in supervision, an average of $5 a day per probationer and parolee, is low compared to states such as Connecticut and Washington, which spend $11 per day and $19 per day respectively per person on supervision.9

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  • The CSG Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment in Rhode Island: An Overview. (July 2015). PDF
  • Senate Fiscal Office, "Governor's Budget FY2015 and FY2014 Supplemental" 2014-H-7133 Budget Analysis. (Providence: Senate Fiscal Office, 2014). PDF
  • The CSG Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment Working Group First Meeting. (July 7, 2015). PDF

Updated September 2015

Notes

1 The Council of State Governments Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment in Rhode Island: An Overview. (July 2015).
2 The Council of State Governments Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment in Rhode Island: An Overview. (July 2015).
3 Ibid.
4 The Council of State Governments Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment Working Group First Meeting. (July 7, 2015)
5 Ibid.
6 The Council of State Governments Justice Center. Justice Reinvestment Working Group First Meeting. (July 7, 2015)
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.
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