State of the States: Justice Reform in Focus

maria News, Uncategorized

Each year, governors in every state deliver their annual State of the State addresses to lay out their priorities and set their agenda for the year to come. Across the country, governors from both parties are including justice reform as an important part of their agenda this year.

Follow along on Twitter via the hashtag: #StatesLead.

Here’s a rundown of what the governors are putting at the top of their agenda in 2017.

Click to jump to a state

Arkansas Arizona Connecticut  Illinois
Kentucky  Missouri Nevada New Jersey 
New York      North Dakota      Oklahoma     South Dakota   

KENTUCKY  – Governor Bevin 

February 8, 2017

“Criminal justice reform is coming. We passed an expungement bill..”


“There is other legislation working its way through the legislature that will open up licensing and give people a chance to get back on track. We owe them this, it will be good for taxpayers and it will be good for Kentucky too..”







OKLAHOMA – Governor Mary Fallin 

February 6, 2017

“…So that is why I created the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force to find data-driven, smarter crime policies to focus on improving public safety. 75% of our new admissions to prison are non-violent offenders per statute. The number of drug offenders sentenced to prison with no prior convictions has more than doubled in five years.”

“My budget includes new money for corrections and treatment which includes a $50 million bond issue to build wings on a men’s and women’s prison for substance abuse offenders and rehabilitation. Now there is unprecedented conservative support on this issue from groups like the American Conservative Union and Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration.”

“Meanwhile, smart on crime states, conservative states, such as Texas, Utah, Georgia, Kentucky, and South Dakota, are already headed in this direction and states have seen better public safety outcomes by pursuing these kinds of reforms.”


ILLINOIS – Governor Bruce Rauner 

January 25, 2017

“So too is ensuring that we provide a means for those in our criminal justice system to rehabilitate and return to productive lives. Over the past two years our Administration has worked to reform our criminal justice system, reduce recidivism and address underlying behavioral and mental health issues for those in our systems of care, in order to keep our communities safer.

We’re making great strides in implementing initial recommendations from our Commission on Criminal Justice Reform – helping non-violent ex-offenders get back on their feet and giving them meaningful skills to find employment. We’re turning around the Department of Children and Family Services, and we’ve safely reduced the juvenile justice population by 49%. We’ve shuttered the outdated Roundhouse at Stateville Prison while repurposing two other facilities in Murphysboro and Kewanee as life skill centers to help non-violent offenders return to the workforce more effectively.”


MISSOURI – Governor Eric Greitens

January 17, 2017

“If someone gets out of prison, we want them to go to work. We want them to pay their fair share of taxes. We want them to take care of their kids. We want them to set a good example. And the last thing we want is someone coming out of prison and committing another crime that hurts another family and starts that same bad cycle all over again. We need to do different. People in prison should have a clear plan the day the enter about what direction their lives will take the day they leave. To tackle this problem, we need to engage groups from across society, most importantly, our faith community. I have seen that a turn towards faith can actually save lives in prison and I will welcome our churches and our synagogues into our corrections facilities. These steps are just the beginning, and the path towards safer streets for all is built on a combination of support of law enforcement, relationships rooted in understanding, economic and educational opportunity, and a justice system that has the confidence of all of its citizens.”



NEVADA – Governor Brian Sandoval

January 17, 2017

“With the dedicated leadership of the first lady and former Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta, and after being the only state to receive a grant from the Council of State Governments, a group of legislators, judges and policy makers studied our juvenile justice system and concluded it is in need of reform. They found that state and county agencies spent $95 million on the supervision of justice-involved youth, yet across our state there is no standardized method to track outcomes, or ensure that evidence-based practices are being utilized. We know that some youth have multiple encounters with the courts, often leading to long-term supervision and incarceration. We can do better. That’s why I’m introducing the Juvenile Justice System Reform act, which streamlines and standardizes criteria to match youth with the most effective services. To that end, my budget includes $1.5 million to implement a statewide risk assessment program. These changes should result in reduced recidivism rates and improved outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.”


VIRGINIA – Governor Terry McAuliffe

January 11, 2017

“One result of our challenged mental health system is that too many individuals who suffer from behavioral health disorders wind up in jail, where there are not enough resources to properly care for them. To solve that problem, I have proposed legislation and funding to expand mental health screenings in local and regional jails.”


SOUTH DAKOTA – Governor Dennis Daugaard

January 10, 2017

I am also very pleased with the success of the substance abuse treatment programs created under the Act. Five-hundred-forty individuals have completed substance abuse treatment, and our rate of successful completion is 11 percent higher than the national average. Because of these reforms, more offenders are receiving the help they need through community-based treatment.The Act also initiated a very successful partnership with the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. We placed a state-funded parole agent at Sisseton, which allows tribal members to return home for parole and engages local service providers and tribal law enforcement in providing support for the offenders to change, and the results are compelling. In the first two years of this program, the percentage of tribal parolees being returned to prison for a violation has fallen from 57 percent to 28 percent – cut in half. Again, these efforts help focus our attention on violent offenders who pose a threat to public. Nonviolent offenders receive treatment and remain in their communities where they can work to support themselves and their families.”


NEW JERSEY – Governor Chris Christie

January 10, 2017

“Next, whether leaving a treatment center to a sober living home or leaving prison after having received treatment for the disease that led you to a life of crime, the road to recovery is made even longer and the road to relapse even shorter if the person in recovery cannot find a job. That is why I advocated for the reforms we have made to the bail system effective just 10 days ago. We now have a criminal justice system that will permit our judges to keep the truly dangerous sociopath behind bars, will release the non-violent offenders who have only remained in jail because they are poor and end the predatory bail system that has lobbyists roaming these halls advocating to keep people behind bars unless their clients are permitted to profit from their release. We ended this antiquated system in a bi-partisan effort and starting in 2017, all of New Jersey will benefit from our efforts. We know the greatest predictor of personal success in every way is a job. Employment is a long term factor towards reducing recidivism. Thanks to our bi-partisan efforts with Senator Cunningham we have “banned this box”, which is a barrier to employment. As we all know there are many more barriers, which is why we will be working with Koch Industries and their General Counsel Mark Holden to work collaboratively with New Jersey-based companies to challenge ourselves and long accepted exclusions for employment of the formerly incarcerated. This March we will host an Employment Opportunity Summit of the business, legal, and human resources executive to ensure that New Jersey is at the forefront of helping people get back to work and become productive citizens and taxpayers. That will help those who have been incarcerated, been addicted, and been left behind to have an opportunity to reclaim their lives and not go backward to addiction and jail.”


ARKANSAS – Governor Asa Hutchinson

January 10, 2017

“We need to continue to look at our criminal justice system in this state to assure that our incarceration policies are right, to assure that our policy is balanced between public safety and giving those a second chance in life who have fulfilled their responsibility to society.”


ARIZONA – Governor Doug Ducey

January 9, 2017

“It’s opportunities like this – where Corrections truly becomes Corrections. And we need more of them, so that over time, we can turn the tide and reduce our prison population, provide that second chance, while also protecting public safety. And public safety will always be our top priority.”

“We also need to make sure that a second chance really is a second chance. Vivitrol has been called a miracle drug, blocking heroine and pain killer addictions, even alcoholism. And allowing millions of Americans to gain their lives back. This morning I signed an executive order so that, effective immediately, people leaving our prison system have the opportunity to be treated with this blocker before they walk out of the doors to maximize their success of never, ever going back.”… “But sadly, many who have served their time don’t have a community of support when they leave prison, making it that much harder. Through efforts, like our community correction centers, we’ve made strides to help bridge the gap. But more is needed. That’s why I am announcing an effort of the governor’s office, to engage the faith and non profit communities in being advocates for our citizens leaving prison and transitioning back into society. And inside our prisons, we will be adding employment centers to help with things like building a resume, getting a job before the release date.”



CONNECTICUT – Governor Dan Malloy

January 4, 2017

“And finally on the criminal justice front, Connecticut is leading the nation, and is now safer than it has been in fifty years. Our prison population has dropped significantly, and high-risk, violent offenders are serving more of their sentence than ever before. Recidivism has declined substantially. This progress has allowed us to save taxpayers $70 million in the current fiscal year. All of this work – all of it – is making Connecticut a better, more desirable place to work and live.”

Read Gov. Malloy’s Full 2017 State of the State Address here or watch it below.

NEW YORK – Governor Andrew Cuomo

January 9, 2017

“[W]e will expand the indigent legal services for criminal defendants to honor the constitutional promise of Gideon versus Wainright. We will be the state of law and order but also the state of compassion and common sense. We will work to improve the justice system and work to end racial and resource inequities. We will propose groundbreaking reforms: will video tape interrogations, improve fairness in lineups, and raise the age of criminal liability from 16 to 18. We will reform our bail system to weigh the public safety risk posed by an individual because we accomplish absolutely nothing locking up people for years who pose no threat to the public who haven’t even had a right to a trial. We will honor the promise to a speedy trial because Rikers Island is an insult to lady justice.”


NORTH DAKOTA – Governor Doug Burgum

January 3, 2017

“Jail time without rehab is not a cure for addiction. We need to start treating addiction like the chronic disease it is, and by moving these services upstream we will save lives and we will save the taxpayer money.”