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Criminal Justice Planning In Rhode island

The State of Rhode Island spends millions of general revenue dollars each year to support its administration of justice, in addition to receiving and spending millions of federal dollars; yet there is no current strategic plan that guides this
spending from year to year.

For more than a decade, RI has
been lacking sustained leadership, strategy and collaboration across state agencies that serve individuals involved in the justice system. This has resulted in static recidivism rates, missed financial opportunities, fragmented and unaccountable approaches to justice reform, and a lack of data-informed policymaking. As a consequence of the State’s lack of planning, there is no clear statewide vision or long-term goals for RI’s criminal justice system.

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The True Cost

Across the United States, tens of millions of Americans are in debt to their local and state criminal justice systems due to costs associated with criminal convictions. While there is no mechanism for collecting national data on criminal justice debt, state level data indicates that billions of dollars are owed to courts and corrections agencies nationwide. A significant portion of this debt will ultimately go unpaid despite the staggering negative impacts nonpayment has on people’s lives, implying that nonpayment is generally the result of inability to pay. But while there is a growing critical discussion about the legal and economic impacts of criminal justice debt, less attention has been paid to the devastating health impacts of these legal financial obligations. 

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Physician–Public Defender Collaboration — A New Medical–Legal Partnership

Involvement in the criminal justice system is one of the most fundamental upstream determinants of health. Fortunately, a model for helping patients navigate legal issues that negatively affect their health does exist in medicine: the medical–legal partnership.

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