Overcriminalization in America: No Home for Justice

All Jack and his wife Jill Barron wanted was a home near their family for retirement. After going through all of the necessary permitting, they purchased the land where they intended to build. But soon the EPA alleged that the land might be a wetland and began restricting building on the site. Eventually the EPA brought felony charges on Jack for bringing gravel on to his property. This sparked a legal fight that threatened Jack with federal prison.

After extensive legal fees and a great deal of time and stress on the part of the couple, a jury decided that the property had not been proved to be a wetland and found Jack not guilty. But the EPA continues to require Jack to restore the property to its original state, prohibiting his development. [Read more...]

This is the first of a series of films that looks at what happens in an overcriminalized society. A couple can lose their life savings in legal fights through overgrown bureaucracy.

Representative Ulery Working with Dartmouth on Criminal Costs Project

Represent Ulery is working with the Policy Research Shop of the Nelson D. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College on the costs of incarceration in the New Hampshire State Prison system.  A team of students under the direction of Visiting Assistant Professor Matthew Cravens is using a previously introduced bill which Ulery Co-Sponsored with Senator Sharon Carson to attempt to control the costs of imprisonment as a starting point.  That bill was held for Interim Study and needed additional information.  “The introduction of the bill was an attempt to bring to light the high costs associated with imprisonment and seek alternatives” said Ulery of his support.  Ulery commented that “while New Hampshire is ranked as one of the safest States in the nation, we have some of highest costs per person.  That is an area that can and should be addressed.”

The students in the project hail from as far away as Korea, but include folks from Memphis and Ft. Lauderdale as well.  Ulery will bring his work in Criminal Justice in the past, recommendations from fellow legislators, association with Right On Crime think tank and his participation in ALEC to the task.  The Research Group will examine alternative approaches to incarceration that have reduced costs in Hawai’i and Texas.  Perhaps more importantly, such approaches have reduced recidivism and thus criminal activity in those states. Said Ulery, “It is hoped that the scholastic research of this group will develop data to help New Hampshire reduce criminal behavior and reduce what some estimate as the $33,000/per prisoner annual costs” http://www.jailnation.com/nh/.   Armed with the data developed and analyzed over the next few months effective legislation supporting the goals of reducing recidivism and prison costs is planned to be introduced by Ulery should he be re-elected.

Jordan Ulery
NH State Representative
163rd General Court

Pat Nolan: Fear of Crime and the Prison Build Up

Pat Nolan, Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Reform at the American Conservative Union Foundation and Right on Crime Director of Outreach, talks about how being a former legislator and having served time in prison has made it clear for him to see the bureaucracy within the criminal justice system. This is a driving factor in his passion for reform. Here, on The Vera Institute “Justice In Focus”, he shares his experience.


Right on Crime Featured in “State of Incarceration”

State of Incarceration, a documentary directed by Andrew Gregg in association with CBC, was released last week on Canada Public Television. The film investigates where Canada’s criminal justice system is headed and takes Gregg to Texas, known for being “tough on crime”, to discover Texas investing in programs to keep non violent offenders out of prison and reduce recidivism. Below, a short clip taken from the documentary, highlights some of the Smart on Crime programs Texans have created.

Continue on cbc.ca

Dallas Plans to Take Advantage of the 2007 Cite and Summons Law

dallas_co_jailNext year, the Dallas Police Department and county officials will make another attempt at reducing the amount of time an officer will spend on nonviolent misdemeanor suspects by taking advantage of the 2007 cite-and-summons law. The law was written by former Rep. and Right on Crime Fellow, Jerry Madden, and passed with bipartisan support and backing from both conservative and liberal criminal justice advocates.

Successful roll-out in Dallas — and a similar new program in Houston — would give criminal justice reformers across the political spectrum added momentum for next year’s lawmaking session. Priority goals for the left-right Texas Smart on Crime Coalition include further refinement of Texas’ drug laws, with emphasis on keeping the repercussions minor for minor offenses.

Continue reading at The Dallas Morning News