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Top trends in criminal justice reform in 2023

Legal Oct 29, 2023

Globally, the United States maintains its incarceration supremacy with more than two million individuals confined in correctional facilities or jails. However, efforts to reform the criminal justice system and decrease mass incarceration are on the rise. The following developments are anticipated in criminal justice reform in the United States in 2023:

  • Ongoing transition away from stringent sentencing practices. There has been an increasing societal demand in recent years to diminish the implementation of mandatory minimum sentences and other stringent sentencing practices. This trend is expected to persist into 2023, as an increasing number of states come to the realization that these practices are both inequitable and ineffectual.
  • An increased emphasis on reforming drug policy. The counterproductive and expensive war on drugs waged by the United States has been a failure. A growing movement has emerged in recent years to reform drug policy by placing greater emphasis on treatment and prevention as opposed to punishment. As an increasing number of states legalize or decriminalize marijuana and other substances, this trend is likely to persist into 2023.
  • Persist in advocating for prison reform. In the United States, prisons are frequently overloaded and understaffed, resulting in deplorable conditions and elevated levels of violence. A growing movement to reform prisons and make them more humane and rehabilitative has emerged in recent years. States and the federal government are expected to continue investing in prison reform initiatives through 2023.
  • Efforts to decrease the extent to which technical violations result in probation and parole revocations. Revocations of parole and probation for technical violations are a significant contributor to widespread incarceration. There has been a growing movement in recent years to reduce the use of technical revocations and increase individuals' opportunities for community success. States and the federal government are expected to continue implementing reforms to decrease technical revocations in 2023.
  • Protest to reestablish the right to vote for individuals convicted of felonies. Frequently, individuals with felony convictions are denied the right to vote, or disenfranchised. This disenfranchisement undermines democracy and affects people of color disproportionately. A developing movement to restore voting rights to individuals with felony convictions has emerged in recent years. It is probable that this pattern will persist into 2023, given the increasing number of states and the federal government enacting legislation to reinstate voting rights.
  • Sustained emphasis on reforming the juvenile justice system. Youth are frequently harmed by the juvenile justice system, and numerous juvenile offenders are incarcerated for minor transgressions. A increasing movement has emerged in recent years to reform the juvenile justice system so that rehabilitation rather than punishment is the primary emphasis. As states and the federal government implement reforms to decrease juvenile incarceration and advance positive outcomes for young people, it is probable that this trend will persist into 2023.

Anticipated developments in criminal justice reform in the United States in 2023 include the following. These trends are indicative of the increasing acknowledgement that the existing criminal justice system is flawed and lacks efficacy. We can foster a more just and equitable society, reduce mass incarceration, and improve public safety through criminal justice system reform.


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