Promote Smart Decarceration
The United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world, and people of color, low-income
people, and people with disabilities are substantially overrepresented. The Grand Challenge to Promote
Smart Decarceration aims to reduce the prison and jail population by one million people by 2025.
In doing so, it intends to redress these disparities and maximize public safety and well-being.
During the past five years, members of the Grand Challenge have published, presented, and spoken
out on these issues, both within the field of social work and more broadly. The decarceration movement
has gained considerable traction recently, as criminal justice reform featured prominently in the
Presidential election. Following the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black men
and women, the Black Lives Matter movement powerfully amplified calls for bail reform as well as
police and prison abolition.
ACHIEVING GOALS TOWARDS SMART DECARCERATION
Smart decarceration is the development of effective, sustainable, and
socially just solutions to achieve criminal justice transformation. To achieve
this, three interrelated goals must be accomplished:
From Smart Decarceration Practice Behaviors for Social Work Competencies: A Guide for Educators and Learners, 2018.
Substantially reduce the
in jails and prisons.
Redress the existing social
disparities - racial, economic and
behavioral health disparities -
among the incarcerated.
Maximize public safety
28 | Progress and Plans for the Grand Challenges