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Mass incarceration has resulted from a great imbalance in our national approach to public safety, one that relies far too heavily on the criminal justice system. This has produced excessive levels of punishment and a diversion of resources from investments that could strengthen the capacity of families and communities to address the circumstances that contribute to crime. Research has demonstrated that many social interventions are more cost-effective in producing better public safety outcomes than expanded incarceration.
The initiatives described below present a sampling of such interventions in early childhood education, juvenile justice, and community investment that have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing crime. This listing is far from exhaustive, but suggests that there is considerable opportunity to expand on programs that hold the potential to produce savings by avoiding future law enforcement and correctional costs.