Some leading conservative Republicans are behind some innovative criminal justice policies designed to bring down the cost of incarceration, reduce recidivism, and hold offenders accountable, while keeping communities safe, according to several reports.
The group spearheading the effort is Right on Crime [www.rightoncrime.com] a national campaign for conservative criminal justice reforms led by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Marc Levin leads the campaign. He said the group utilizes some of the ideas that produced The Second Chance Act which was passed by Congress April 0f 2008.
The U.S. Congress passed The Second Chance Act, April 2008.
Supporters said enhancing drug treatment for low-level offenders would help them overcome addictions. The act also provides finances for mentoring programs for children of incarcerated parents.
Supporters of Right on Crime include a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representative, Newt Gingrich, and a former leader of the California Republican Party, Pat Nolan.
“Our prisons might be worth the current cost if the recidivism rate were not so high, but, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, half of the prisoners released this year are expected to be back in prison within three years,” Gingrich wrote in the Washington Post two years ago. “If our prison policies are failing half of the time, and we know that there are more humane, effective alternatives, it is time to fundamentally rethink how we treat and rehabilitate our prisoners.”
The conservative states of Texas, Georgia and South Dakota have changed their laws and budgets to reform their criminal justice systems. These changes have resulted in the states’ most-dangerous offenders landing in prison, while low-level drug and mentally ill offenders are steered into treatment programs.
Numerous conservative politicians across the nation have begun to support criminal justice policies that have a proven record for helping reintegrate ex-offenders back into communities, according to the Weekly Standard.
“While some politicians may have once judged their success in corrections by how many people are in prison, today we are asking different questions,” said Levin in a Right on Crime news release early this year. “How much crime are we reducing with every dollar spent? How many victims are obtaining restitution? How many nonviolent ex-offenders are now in the workforce? In short, we must move from a system that grows when it fails to one that rewards results, and conservatives are on the front lines of this movement.”
An example of using some of the innovative policies supported by Right on Crime is New York, where the prison population has fallen by a quarter since 1999. At the same time, crime has fallen to the lowest rate since the 1960s, thanks in part to innovative policing strategies in New York City, according to Right on Crime.