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By participating in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, North Carolina lawmakers are trying to address the root causes of crime in order to cut costs and keep the public safe.
Lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties agree that the state must get smart on crime and begin to implement more data-driven solutions through the new Justice Reinvestment program, according to the News & Observer.
The state will work with the U.S. Justice Department, the national Council of State Governments Justice Center and the nonprofit Pew Center on the States to look at the root causes of crime, ways to lower recidivism rates and manage the offender population.
Similar programs have been rolled out in states such as Texas and Michigan. North Carolina is hoping to benefit from the research expertise gained in those states.
According to the latest data, North Carolina's state prison population grew by one quarter between 2000 and 2008, while spending on corrections nearly doubled.
North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said that the state cannot afford spend money on prisons and corrections at that rate over the next decade. Instead, the state should spend the money on education and jobs.
The Justice Reinvestment Initiative uses mapping technology, which helps to provide geographic analyses to pinpoint which neighborhoods receive people released from prison and how state spending on programs often converges on the same families and communities.
The project could take one to three years to roll out in North Carolina. Justice Reinvestment program staff and other experts will review prison, probation and court data from North Carolina and then provide options to elected leaders on how to better treat and track offenders and build fewer prisons.