The Niskanen Center’s criminal justice program is grounded in the belief that public safety, social order, and the fair and efficient administration of justice are mutually reinforcing ends and that each is necessary to maintain a free, open, and prosperous society. Governments must protect people from violence and secure property from theft and destruction. In fulfilling this duty, governments are also obligated 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.
Niskanen’s approach to criminal justice policy is rooted in the understanding that it should be continuously improved through evidence–derived from experimentation, rigorous evaluation, and cost/benefit analysis. The department works to develop evidence-based policy proposals designed to minimize the social costs of crime and punishment for lawmakers, and help transmit knowledge – what works, what doesn’t, and why – to practitioners throughout the criminal justice system.