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Finance for systemic prevention

Changing funding flows can also encourage preventative services. One example is Oregon’s Justice Reinvestment programme. Justice Reinvestment is a local approach to justice decision-making which seeks to reinvest some of the state funds spent on imprisonment into local programs that tackle the longer term causes of offending in specific localities. It diverts funds away from prisons and back towards local communities. It was first introduced to reduce the rate of reoffending among young offenders in Oregon in the late 1990s. The state handed over a ‘block-grant’ to Deschutes County which was equal to the amount of money the state spent each year on imprisoning young offenders from that county, thereby making the county and not the state financially responsible for young offenders in custody. The county were free to choose how to allocate the funds on the basis that they would be ‘charged-back’ the costs of sending the young offenders back to prison. Deschutes County then implemented a series of resettlement and prevention programmes within the community which resulted in a 72% fall in the number of young people being sent to prison. This model has been tested in a number of states including Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Texas, where it has delivered significant results.

(See Rob Allen and Vivien Stern (eds.), Justice Reinvestment – A New Approach to Crime and Justice, The International Centre for Prison Studies, King’s College London, 2007. Available at: