[Opinion] On criminal justice, don’t just focus on bad news. We ignore progress at our peril.

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USA Today on 9/23/2023 by Adam Gelb Opinion contributor

The shrinking criminal justice footprint is rarely acknowledged or discussed, leaving everyday Americans to conclude that nothing is improving.

There’s a concept in psychotherapy called supporting self-efficacy. It’s a core strategy to help people reach their goals: You find something positive the person did, no matter how big or small, and you call attention to it, enabling them to see that they can indeed make progress. You catch them doing something right.

Too often in civic life, especially in the realm of criminal justice and public safety, we do the opposite, focusing on failures and setbacks. There are plenty to choose from. When deadly instances of police use of force and mass shootings at schools and malls have become weekly tragedies, it’s easy to feel a sense of futility.

But the data tell a more hopeful story. As a new dashboard of crime and justice trends from the Council on Criminal Justice shows, amid the agony, there is also headway.