Joan Petersilia, Ph.D., has spent more than 25 years studying the performance of U.S. criminal justice agencies and has been instrumental in affecting sentencing and corrections reform in California. She is the author of 11 books about crime and public policy, and her research on parole reform, prisoner reintegration and sentencing policy has fueled policy changes nationwide.
In June, Dr. Petersilia delivered the keynote speech to the National Institute of Justice conference in Arlington, Va. Titled “Looking Back to See the Future of Prison Downsizing in America,” her talk was thought-provoking. She outlined how recent declines in U.S. prison populations have caused many reformers to suggest that America’s experiment with mass incarceration is ending. But, she said, current prison downsizing policies may well backfire if we fail to heed the lessons learned from the intermediate sanctions movement of the 1990s. In a talk NIJ attendees rated highest, Dr. Petersilia summarized these lessons and discussed why we must consider them if we want to reverse four decades of prison expansion.
BI Incorporated has collaborated with Dr. Petersilia in the past; in fact, in her book “When Prisoners Come Home,” she highlighted one of BI’s Day Reporting Centers as a positive example for prisoner reintegration. The NIJ recently release the transcripts of Dr. Petersilia’s talk, as well as a 51-minute video.