Conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute held a forum to address criminal justice reform on Sept. 9. Topics included prison reduction, effective policing and increased relations between police and communities, reported the Epoch Times.
In attendance were U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who gave the keynote address, and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Va.). The two introduced a bipartisan measure that would address sentencing, mandatory minimums, probation and community policing under the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act.
“Too often our prisons are clogged with nonviolent offenders who are serving exceedingly lengthy sentences,” stated Sensenbrenner. He attributes the growing incarceration rate in part to the increase in federal criminal codes.
Panel discussions participants included Sally Satel, AEI, and staff psychiatrist at Partners in Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation Counseling; David Kennedy, director of the National Network for Safe Communities, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; and Adam Gelb of the PEW Charitable Trusts.
“Much of what we have been doing, especially in the hard-hit places, in the name of crime prevention, is in fact criminogenic. So we should stop doing those things. Doctors say, ‘First do no harm.’ Criminal justice needs to learn that lesson,” said Kennedy, adding that crime rate rises when police relations with communities dip.
Satel, who is a resident scholar at AEI, talked about the effectiveness of drug diversion programs. “Drug courts are more effective than conventional corrections in helping people cut back on drug use and reoffending,” she said.
Today there is more substantial research on drug- related crimes and on the effectiveness of pinpointing root causes of drug addiction, reported the Epoch Times. The article emphasized that it is possible to reduce prison population while keeping communities safe.