The Niskanen Center believes that the U.S. criminal justice system needs reform to ensure public safety, social order, and the fair and efficient administration of justice. These aspects of criminal justice are mutually reinforcing ends necessary to maintain a free and open society. Governments have a duty to protect people from violence and secure property from theft and destruction. In fulfilling its duty for an equitable criminal justice system, the U.S. government has a corresponding duty to affirm the rule of law, respect constitutional rights and due process, impose just and effective punishments, eliminate inequities, and promote the common good across communities.
Effective criminal justice policy assumes the legitimacy of criminal justice systems, and that legitimacy rests on the ability of those systems to protect public safety efficiently and enforce criminal laws fairly and consistently. Moreover, effective criminal justice policy is rooted in evidence derived from policy experimentation and rigorous analysis. The Niskanen Center offers effective criminal justice system reform policy proposals directly by working with lawmakers and advocates, and indirectly by helping transmit knowledge – what works, what doesn’t, and why – throughout the criminal justice system.