NE-JOIrace-0117

Trump Was Right. Unemployment Rate Masks RI’s Deteriorating Employment Market. Real Unemployment Rate 12.4%?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2017

Unemployment Rate Would be 12.4% if Labor Force Matched Nation

Inadequacy of Unemployment Rate Clouding Political Discourse
Deteriorating Labor Force Produces Positive Rate?

Providence, RI — Donald Trump may have been correct in his skepticism of apparently positive national unemployment rate news during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. As the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has long argued, and once again backed by the latest employment data, negative declines in the state’s labor force have led to positive improvements in Rhode Island’s official unemployment rate. Yet, a broader look employment actually shows that the Ocean State remains mired as the third-worst state nationally on the Center’s January Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI).

Labor Force Change RIDespite boasts of a strengthening state economy based on its January unemployment rate of 4.7%, a closer look at the data reveals a major underlying problem that is often overlooked: Since 2007 U.S. employment and labor force participation has risen by 4-5%, while Rhode Island saw an opposite decrease by 4-5% in these same categories over the same time period.

“It is not a positive when our state’s decreased unemployment rate is almost entirely due to policies that are driving our labor force out of state,” warned Justin Katz, research director for the Center. “If our state’s labor force instead had increased at the same rate as the nation, our unemployment rate would be a whopping 12.4%.”

JOI takes a broader look at employment and prosperity than does the narrowly-defined unemployment rate. JOI makes it clear that meaningful long-term work and high-paying jobs, which are vital to individual dignity and family self-sufficiency, are not in high supply in Rhode Island as compared with other states. A more detailed analysis of the January data by Katz, specifically on employment and jobs, can be found on The Ocean State Current, the Center’s journalism and blog website.

Despite its weak national ranking remaining unchanged, the state’s raw JOI score improved slightly in January to 19.0 on a scale of 0-100 from its December score of 17.9. Findings from another national study, the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), where Rhode Island ranked 43rd overall in “economics” and 44th and last in New England in “entrepreneurship”, tend support JOI’s stagnant rankings as opposed to the unemployment rate rank.

Of the three factors that make up the January JOI, the Ocean State ranks:

  • 35th on the Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): UP four slots from last month’s rankings
  • 41st on the Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): DOWN two slots from last month
  • 46th Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): NO CHANGE from last month

Rhode Island’s poor JOI and FPI rankings are personified by Robert Martinez, a US Navy veteran, who fought a losing battle against oppressive local government regulations and a statewide hostile business climate that has derailed his dream of forging a better quality of life for himself by developing a successful mobile food vendor business.

The Center’s monthly JOI report is based on state and local tax collection data from a a variety of federal agencies including the U.S. Census and on income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Rhode Island has not gained ground on the national JOI metric, remaining – as it has for years – in the bottom five among all states. JOI is a broader and more accurate measure of employment and well-being than the traditionally cited and highly narrow unemployment rate, which has fluctuated more dramatically in recent years for Rhode Island, but which is not an accurate barometer of economic growth or family prosperity.

Supporting the findings of the JOI metric, Rhode Island also ranks 48th in 2016 the Family Prosperity Index, the broadest national measure of family well-being.

For the JOI homepage, click here.
For a description of JOI and its three sub-factors, click here.

The first Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) January 2017 finds the Ocean State slipping on the Freedom Factor, measuring welfare dependency vs. employment.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), January 2017: Rhode Islanders Less Free from Government Dependency

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s first Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) report for 2017 finds the Ocean State slipping on the Freedom Factor, measuring welfare dependency versus employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revised employment down for Rhode Island, reducing the state’s employment health, and more Rhode Islanders slipped into dependence on Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps).

Eight of the 13 datapoints used for the index have been newly updated. Employment was down 653 from the previously recorded number, while labor force fell 2,358. On the positive side, RI-based jobs increased by 600. (Note that these are calculated with pre-revision data for the prior month.) Perhaps beginning to show the UHIP-enabled expansion of welfare programs, Medicaid enrollment numbers increased by 3,455, and SNAP enrollment increased by 5,187. Quarterly data for additional employment measures were also released, with 1,400 fewer people long-term unemployed and 300 fewer part-time against their will; marginally attached workers remained exactly the same.

The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, at 48th in the country. Once again, the only two New England states to move in the rankings were Maine (now 18th) and Connecticut, although the latter changed direction, lost two spaces, and, at 34th, is now just one space ahead of Masaschusetts, at 35th. New Hampshire remained 1st in the nation, and Vermont held at 21st.

NE-JOIrace-0117

The second chart shows the gap between Rhode Island and New England and the United States on JOI. The Ocean State made up a little ground against both averages. Rhode Island also made up ground on the gaps for unemployment rate (third chart).

RINEUS-JOI-2005-0117 RINEUS-unemployment-2005-0117

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): RI moved up four spots to 35th.
  • Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI fell two to 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI held at 46th.
boy-1226964_1920

STATEMENT: Center Claims It Reckless And Anti-Family to Legalize Marijuana This Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2017

Center Claims it Reckless and Anti-Family to Legalize Marijuana This Year
Supports Study Commission as More Prudent Approach

Click here to see our statement on risk to employers

Click here to see testimony from CEO Stenhouse

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity claims it would be reckless to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state this year, as sufficient analysis has not been independently conducted. While public discussion has focused on revenues, underground markets vs regulated markets, incarceration rates, and forms of strict regulation, the Center believes that the potential impact on families and on society have been a glaring omission in the statewide debate.

“How would any family benefit from increased use or abuse of any substance,” asked Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “We must put the interests of minors, families, and overall society above all other considerations.”

Conflicting data from studies of Colorado, Washington and other states that have previously legalized recreational cannabis use have created an unclear picture of the short-term and long-term effects.

“The research shows that there are major potential risks to individuals and to society, but we cannot yet accurately quantify the actual scope of these concerns. This is why we need more time to study the issue. We should not recklessly move forward until we know with more certainty where we are headed,” said Michael Cerullo, who was today named as an Adjunct Scholar to the Center on the issue of substance abuse.

Cerullo is founder of What’s the Rush RI and is one of the state’s leading activists against marijuana legalization until a more thorough examination of the data from other states can be made. He is a private practice psychotherapist. Cerullo has evaluated and treated hundreds of adolescent and emerging adults involved with DCYF, the Family Court and justice system and with residential rehab programs.

“As Patrick Kennedy recently warned, increased use of marijuana could indeed lead to increased opioid and other substance abuse. Already with a statewide illicit drug use problem, there is simply too big a risk for families for Rhode Island to act at this time” added Cerullo.

The Center also points to the unresolved question of enforcement of federal marijuana prohibitions, and whether or not Rhode Island would be putting itself in legal jeopardy by rushing to legalize the drug. The Trump administration signaled in late February that it is considering stricter enforcement of existing federal marijuana laws when it comes to states acting independently on the matter. The Obama administration openly took the position that it would not enforce related federal law. “This federal legal question is yet another issue that must be cleared up before Rhode Island moves forward,” concluded Stenhouse.

As a more prudent approach, and in order to better understand these and other issues, the Center and Mr. Cerullo support the concept of a legislative study commission to properly vet data from other states and to evaluate the potential impacts of legalization across the board. The Center recommends a two-year commission study and reporting period so as to allow for even more research to be compiled. This approach is in keeping with the prestigious Rand Corporation’s view that it will not be until 2020 that we will fully see what changes take place in use, revenue, black market activity, big marijuana industry behavior and in downstream treatment, public health and safety trends.

ecg-1953179_960_720

Center Calls on R.I. Lawmakers to be Proactive as New U.S. Health Insurance Landscape Takes Shape

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2017

Lawmakers Encouraged to Plan for New Landscape

Providence, RI – With the initial release last night of the U.S. Congressional Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today calls on state lawmakers to proactively consider how to fashion the upcoming budget to deal with the shifting federal landscape on health insurance.

Under the new federal plan, gone would be many of the features that led to the implosion of Obamacare’s government-mandated insurance strategy. Soon to be extinct will be the onerous individual and employer mandates and penalties, the costly taxes, state and federal exchanges, and unlimited expansion of Medicaid.

Remaining are popular features such as pre-existing conditions, dependent children coverage up to age 26, and a new form of cash assistance for private-insurance premiums.

“The new law will mean changes and loss of funds to Rhode Island’s health care industry, including Medicaid,” said Gary D. Alexander, adjunct scholar to the Center, who formerly held the positions of Secretary of Health and Human services for Rhode Island and Secretary of Public Welfare for Pennsylvania. “The state should quickly analyze the impact and begin planning how to change course and move to a more of a market-based system that ensures greater budget certainty, care quality, and affordable access.”

As it warned two months ago, state lawmakers will have to find a way to be smarter with state and federal funds. The Center also accurately projected in 2013 that the Obamacare exchange in Rhode Island, HealthSourceRI, would not meet its original goals and would become a burden on the budget. Under the new federal approach, the state-run exchange will soon become a relic of the past. It appears that some of the market-based approaches the Center then recommended must now be considered in order to best complement the pending new federal law.

The Center suggests that the state, perhaps by forming a legislative commission and/or via a gubernatorial created task-force, should immediately begin planning for a number of likely eventualities:

  • How to save state funds by shutting down HealthSourceRI as soon as feasible and returning health insurance sales to the federal government during the transition period away from Obamacare
  • How to reverse the long-term planned increases in Medicaid enrollment and funding that the state was expecting
  • Proactively allow for out-of-state insurers to compete in the Rhode Island market
  • Determine which state-level health-insurance mandates should be repealed so as to allow insurers greater flexibility to craft a variety of plans and pricing levels that meet the demands of would-be enrollees.
  • How to re-work the core strategy for the state’s broken UHIP computer system so as to not encourage increased dependency on government assistance programs
  • Unclear after initial review of the law were the anticipated “block grant funding” and “cross-state” sales models, although they still eventually may be introduced as amendments to the new federal law. These features would be welcome for conservatives, who believe that added competition effectively reduces costs and that states should determine their own policies as opposed to being forced to comply with federal mandates.

However, conservatives are going to have to accept that the new law is an “entitlement”, and that federal and perhaps state funding for health-insurance tax-credits to many Rhode Islanders are a political necessity.

Likewise, liberals are going to have to accept that not as many people will be enrolled in Medicaid. The Center believes it is necessary to limit the current out-of-control growth of Medicaid, which Rhode Island itself has recently experienced.

It is also likely that “health savings accounts” (HSAs) will become more of the standard. HSAs feature lower monthly premiums that cover major medical problem, but also mean higher out-of-pocket expenses for elective and other diagnostic care.

light-1208275_1920-this one

STATEMENT: Center Joins National Taxpayer Group to Oppose Carbon Tax Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2017

15 Cents per Gallon & other Increased Energy Rates Will Further Harm RI Families, Businesses, and State’s Overall Competitiveness

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity supports a letter to Ocean State lawmakers issued today by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the national pro-taxpayer group headed by Grover Norquist, in opposition to the concept of a new state carbon tax on energy; a tax that will kill jobs in Rhode Island.

Legislation sponsored by Senators Jeanine Calkin, Ana Quezada, James Seveney, Harold Metts, and Frank Lombardo (S0365) would place a new tax of $15 per ton of emissions; a tax that will then increase by an additional $5 per year. The bill will be heard today by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Agriculture. The House version of the bill (H5369) sponsored by Representatives Regunberg, Carson, Handy, Keable, and Donovan has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the House Finance Committee.

“This progressive-government kind of interference in the market, which will drive up energy rates for every Rhode Island family and business, is one of the major reason’s why Ocean Staters suffer from the 50th ranked business climate and the 48th rank in family prosperity,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Once again, some lawmakers are placing the advancement of a radical green agenda, ahead of the interests of the people of our state – the forgotten families.”

Already paying some of the highest energy and gasoline rates in the country, Rhode Island families and business could see an increase of up to 15 cents per gallon if this bill were to become law, according to ATR.

Job-Killing, Economy-Busting Proposal? Whether via carbon taxes, green energy mandates, or restrictions on cheaper fossil-fuel based energy production, higher energy costs are a major drag on economic growth. According to a 2016 report by the Center, an extreme green energy agenda, which this bill would advance, could result in dire economic consequences;

  • 4,000 – 6,000 fewer jobs
  • $141-$190 million in total costs
  • a 49-73% increase in the base cost of electricity, leading to
  • a 13-18% increase in electricity rates
  • $670-$893 million extracted from the economy

“Our state economy is simply too fragile to be able to handle this kind of negative hit,” concluded Stenhouse. “And at what offsetting gain?”

girl-1310731_1920

STATEMENT: Center Joins with RI Families Coalition to support Freedom to Work for Hair Braiders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2017
Hair Braiders Should Enjoy Freedom to Pursue Work

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity today joins with the RI Families Coalition in support of regulatory reforms that would free natural hair braiders from the occupational licensing mandates currently imposed on the harmless practice.

Legislation sponsored by Representative Anastasia Williams (H5436) would allow natural hair braiders to engage in legal work without the mandate to obtain the same permission from the government (an occupational license) that is required of cosmeticians and hairdressers.

“This licensing burden is especially harmful to many people who would prefer to start new careers and earn paychecks instead of receiving welfare checks,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. In 2016 Rhode Island ranked a dismal 44th in ‘entrepreneurship’ according to the national Family Prosperity Index. “Unfair and unreasonable occupational licensing restrictions must be repealed if we want more Rhode Islanders to have a chance to improve their quality of life and engage in entrepreneurial commerce.”

Anti Free-Market, Protectionist Policies? It is a common scheme for advocates of certain industries to lobby government to impose strict licensing requirements in order to create barriers to competition. According to a 2012 report by the Center, many such occupational licensing mandates have a disproportionate and negative impact on low-income workers, who often can’t afford the time or money to meet the sometimes onerous and unnecessary requirements.

Further, the Institute for Justice, in 2016, reported that there were 16 states in the United States that required hair braiders to get a “cosmetology” license, which could involve spending hundreds or thousands of hours in training and hundred or thousands of dollars on tuition or fees. In these cosmetology classes, students have to learn how to use chemical treatments and how to cut hair – tasks that have nothing to do with braiding hair.

Additionally, 14 states, along with the District of Columbia, require hair braiders to acquire a specialized license. In Mississippi and Iowa, hair braiders have to register with the state. Specialty licenses require 600 hours of classes and can cost thousands of dollars.

However, in recent years, many states, understanding the anti-commerce nature of such “protectionist” policies, have moved to reverse similar anti-jobs mandates. With regard to providing hair braiders the freedom to work, the states of Indiana, South Dakota, Iowa among others have considered licensing repeals for this specific vocation.

x

STATEMENT: Center Opposes Push to Deregulate Abortion Industry; Decries Attacks on Catholic Church

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21, 2017

Deregulation of Abortion Industry Debate Should Not Include Criticism of the Catholic Church

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity opposes the efforts by some lawmakers to deregulate the abortion industry as a preemptive step against unsubstantiated concerns about the Trump presidency. The Center also calls for a retraction of attacks against the Catholic Church and for a respectful public debate. Consistent with its current family prosperity initiative, the Center opposes any policy that promotes radical individualism at the expense of societal values.

“It is a setback for democracy and it could risk the safety of women if any type of abortion procedure can be performed at any time, on almost anyone, under potentially unregulated and unsafe conditions, without honest and rigorous public debate,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “It is ironic and disturbing that many of the same lawmakers that have voted to systematically over-regulate legitimate businesses and industries out of existence in our state, are the same lawmakers who want this controversial industry to be given a free-pass to grow uncontrolled.”

In its current form, House bill H5343 could readily be interpreted to prohibit the State of Rhode Island from exercising reasonable oversight over abortion practices. The Center suggests this radical approach does not represent the mainstream thinking of Rhode Islanders. The Center maintains that the public generally opposes gruesome “partial birth” and other late-term abortions; opposes state taxpayer funding of abortions to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers; and opposes women in vulnerable circumstances from submitting to an abortion without informed consent … all of which could become rampant in Rhode Island if the proposed legislation were to become law.

The Center also decries the attacks by Representatives McNamara, Bennett, and Shanley against the Catholic Church and RI Right To Life by implying that they are spreading misinformation. Open and honest debate about such an emotional topic, especially by organizations with long-standing and principled histories with the issue, should be encouraged by all parties,without the need to cast aspersions.

“Certainly Rhode Islanders would not want a butcher like Kermit Gosnell to be able to act with impunity in our state,” added Stenhouse. In 2013 Gosnell, a Pennsylvania abortionist, was convicted of murdering three infants who were born alive during attempted abortion procedures, and was also convicted of 21 felony counts of illegal late-term abortions and 211 counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law. “If the bill is not intended to allow certain procedures under certain circumstances, then the bill should explicitly state those exceptions.”

A detailed discussion of the potential pitfalls of the proposed legislation by Justin Katz, the Center’s research director, can be found on the Center’s journalism and blog site, The Ocean State Current.

IMG_0357

Stenhouse Testimony on Justice Reinvestment Initiative Bills

The PDF below is the written testimony submitted on January 31, 2017 to the House Judiciary Committee by the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse, with regard to the House package of bills recommended by the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI).

The testimony follows the prior day’s release of the Center’s Right on Crime policy brief, which discusses the impetus behind these bills, as well as other criminal justice reform issues.

PDF of Stenhouse Testimony

justice statue

Policy Brief: RI’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative is step towards being Right on Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2017

Right and Left Agree That pro-Family Considerations are the “Right” way to “Reinvest” in Criminal Justice
House Leaders Encouraged to Give Serious Consideration to JRI Package of Legislation

fpi_ri-logoProvidence, RI — With related House Judiciary Committee hearings scheduled for Tuesday, and in line with the pro-family objectives of its new Family Prosperity Initiative, the center-right Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity today published a policy brief that supports the State’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) that is being advance by many on the left.

In order to give certain ex-offenders a better chance to achieve a productive life for themselves and their families, the policy brief – Right on Crime – lays out multiple reform ideas that can modernize and strengthen the Ocean State’s criminal justice system so as the lessen the harmful consequences of over-incarceration on society.

Ranking a dismal 48th in overall family prosperity, Rhode Island’s probation and parole rate is fourth highest in the nation, which many believe leads to a high rate of recidivism.

Consistent with the conservative “Right on Crime” movement that is taking hold in red and blue states across the nation, the reforms recommended in the Center’s brief address many issues that have long concerned liberals and that have proven to be destructive to Rhode Island families, including:

  • Poor & minorities disproportionately incarcerated
  • Critical family members embroiled in the criminal justice system
  • No default criminal-justice provision
  • Children of incarcerated parents trapped in cycle of crime and poverty
  • Over-burdened probation system

As discussed in the Right on Crime brief, an attempt to address many of these issues was included in a package of legislation known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) during the 2016 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly and reintroduced this year. The bipartisan JRI package of bills, many of which are reviewed in the brief, unanimously passed the state’s Senate both in committee and on the floor in 2016. However, for unknown reasons, the legislative session ended without the bills’ making it to committee hearings in the House of Representatives, despite broad bipartisan support for the initiative as well as from parole officers, criminal defense attorneys (both public and private), civil rights advocates, and community leaders. The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee heard the 2017 version of these bills earlier this month.

CJFPI

Mike Stenhouse, Ray Rickman, David Safavian, Senator McCaffrey, Grant Collins

As an example of this cross-philosophical public policy cooperation, at the January 17th Family Prosperity Leadership Forum, which attracted almost 100 civic and political leaders from across the state and nation, the Center, along with local and national civil rights and political leaders from the left and right, stood together to support the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which would would improve the state’s over-burdened probation and overall criminal justice system.

The proposed JRI legislation could help break the cycle of incarceration, which makes it difficult for ex-offenders to improve their quality of life. Senate Judiciary Chairman Michael McCaffrey spoke words of praise (click for video) for those on all sides of the philosophical spectrum who are supporting this vital initiative.


About the Family Prosperity Index: In December, along with its national partner, The American Conservative Union Foundation, the Center unveiled an in-depth analysis of factors contributing to the Ocean State’s unacceptable ranking on the Family Prosperity Index (FPI). The Rhode Island Family Prosperity report highlights Rhode Island’s poor scores on a number of factors, including family self-sufficiency, family structure, fertility, and illicit drug use, compounded by its significant out-migration rate, as the determinant factors in the state’s overall FPI rank of 48th in the nation.

The FPI provides the credible data that state policymakers, civic and religious leaders, think tanks and activists need in order to develop and advocate effectively for policies that improve the prosperity of families and the communities where they live.

IMG_0357

Right on Crime: Increasing Family Prosperity via Criminal Justice Reform

by Justin Katz and Matthew Henry Young

A Pressing Need for Reform

Many families seeking upward mobility and prosperity must first break the cycle of incarceration — a cycle that makes it nearly impossible for those caught up in it, ex-offenders in particular, to achieve productive lives for themselves and their families.

New national research shows that Rhode Island ranked just 48th on the 2016 Family Prosperity Index (FPI) as well as just 48th on the Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). In December 2016, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in conjunction with its national partner, the American Conservative Union, issued a 52-page RI Family Prosperity report that highlighted contributing factors to our state’s poor rankings across 57 indexes.

Among other things, the report suggests that Rhode Island has room to modernize and improve its criminal justice system. Reforms put forth as part of the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) and by other organizations can lessen the harmful consequences of over-incarceration for Ocean State families:

  • S0005: to request that the state government continue to seek ways to help Rhode Islanders return to productive activity after having been convicted of crimes
  • S0006 & H5065: to add dedicated funding to an intervention program for domestic abusers, to make supervision more effective and humane through increased training and assessment, with more emphasis on government-driven manipulation toward “pro-social behaviors”
  • S0007 & H5063: to increase and expand the reimbursements for which victims of crime are reimbursed by the state, for example reimbursing families for funeral expenses of deceased victims and expanding the time to report crimes.
  • S0008 & H5117: to modify the rules related to probation and violations thereof by, for example, allowing a punishment of only time served in cases of technical violations of probation and giving judges more flexibility when sentencing for guilty or nolo contender pleas
  • S0009 & H5128: to expand the ability of the parole board to take into account parolees’ circumstances and behavior before incarcerating them for violations (with flexibility in the duration) and to expand the impact statements required for corrections legislation
  • S0010 & H5064: to allow the state judiciary to create a diversion program, enabling defendants to make restitution in ways other than prison terms, to give judges flexibility in handling the sanctions for complaints, and to expand programs for pre-trial risk screening
  • S0011 & H5115: to remove fines over $1,000 as an automatic trigger for designation as a felony ease automatic designations of misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors, with specific exceptions/differences for assault and larceny

Rhode Island’s dismal overall circumstances will only be improved if policymakers and civil society leaders are willing to join together to pursue needed reforms, one issue at time, as highlighted in the state’s FPI report. The status quo has obviously not been working for Ocean State families.

Outdated and overly harsh policies have done little to help Rhode Islanders and their families when it comes to criminal justice. Our policies have long-term consequences that ripple throughout time and adversely affect children and families… generation after generation.