Cohen: More Federal Spending is Counterproductive to Police Reform

Right on Crime policy analyst Derek Cohen writes in The Hill about the Obama administration’s proposed federal initiatives in criminal justice policy. He makes several crucial points, emphasizing the “do something!” nature of the president’s proposals, and the cynical attempt to take advantage of the news cycle. As Cohen writes, “the proposed spending would further erode the accountability local police have to the community… A local policing agenda that comes from Capitol Hill or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be wholly political, captured by special interests and give little weight to the people it purports to help.”

He continued:

Criminal justice policy is, and always has been, controlled at the state level. This authority is then delegated to cities and counties pursuant to most states’ constitutions. This ensures that the potentially coercive authority of government is accountable to elected local — and distally to state — officials. Supporters of recent reform efforts would be more effective seeing that individuals maintain as much control over their police as possible, rather than rattling a cup at the federal government.

Continue reading at The Hill

Grover Norquist: Fighting Crime on a Budget

At the recent Justice Reinvestment National Summit in San Diego, founder and president for Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist delivered a keynote address encouraging representatives from two dozen states to consider safer, smarter and more cost-effective interventions in their correctional approach. Norquist is a Right on Crime signatory, and one of the campaign’s earliest and most prominent supporters. Watch the video below. [Read more...]

BBC Radio: Why Texas is Closing Prisons in Favor of Rehab

A few weeks ago, the BBC sent former David Cameron speechwriter Danny Kruger to Texas to look into the successes of that state’s criminal justice reforms. The first stop on his tour was our Right on Crime office at the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin. Kruger spoke to Right on Crime policy director Marc Levin as well as senior fellow Jerry Madden. In an article accompanying the half-hour broadcast (embedded below), Kruger described the evolution of of the conservative criminal justice reform movement, correctly identifying that it “goes way beyond the desire to save money”:

Consistent with the straightforward Texan manner, [in 2007,] the Congressional Republicans did not attempt to tackle what in Britain are known as “the causes of crime” – the socio-economic factors that make people more disposed to offend. Instead, they focused on the individual criminal, and his or her personal choices. Here, they believe, moral clarity and generosity are what’s needed.

Though fiscal conservatism may have got the ball rolling, what I saw in Texas – spending time in court and speaking to offenders, prison guards, non-profit staff and volunteers – goes way beyond the desire to save money.

Continue reading at the BBC, and listen to the whole show below.

“Reaching the Tipping Point”

Right on Crime’s Director, Marc Levin, was invited to participate in a panel discussion, hosted by Charles Koch Institute on what Congress and the Administration can do to change the current criminal justice system, how smart approaches to tackling crime can reduce costs and improve our quality of life, and the consequences of doing nothing.

 

Moderator:
William P. Ruger, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Policy, Charles Koch Institute

Speakers:
Molly Gill, Government Affairs Counsel, Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Marc Levin, Director, Center for Effective Justice and Right on Crime, Texas Public Policy Foundation
John Malcolm, Director and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
Laura Murphy, Director, Washington Legislative Office, American Civil Liberties Union

Chuck DeVore Talks Right on Crime on the Rick Amato Show

This past week Chuck DeVore, Vice President of Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, sat down with Rick Amato on the OneAmerica Network to discuss criminal justice issues from a conservative perspective.

DeVore began by recapping the changes that have occurred in Texas in the last several years, a bipartisan movement to get the state off of the expensive track its correctional facilities were heading down. This movement managed to slow government spending and rather than opening new prisons as expected the state shut several down. What followed this move many didn’t expect. Instead of crime rates moving upward as some predicted the state is now experiencing its lowest crime rates since the sixties.

The saved funding from these changes is now being used much more efficiently, DeVore notes. Instead of being used to create new cells for the non-violent offenders he focuses on, it is being spent on programs that have demonstrably lowered recidivism, such as substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, and community monitoring.

This efficiency is exactly what conservatives support. DeVore reminds us that, “Conservatives ought to be skeptical of government, all of government, not just certain aspects of government.” Lowering government spending and utilizing the funds in the most efficient manner possible is the essence of conservatism.

Amato was particularly curious about how DeVore felt about drug crimes. Differentiating between legalization and decriminalization, DeVore showed that legalization ignored chemical dependencies but that decriminalization was a movement to divert the offenders from the path they were on by using the fact that they had broken the law as a “hammer” to force them to address the issue of their dependency, for the betterment and safety of everyone around them.

Finally, Amato asked about the issue of race in the criminal justice and correctional systems. The underlying demographics of poverty and unemployment were the real offenders, DeVore argued, and once those had been challenged the system should be reevaluated.  [Read more...]