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

“What’s Next for Criminal Justice Reform?”

The 2014 Texas Tribune Festival featured a panel discussion on criminal justice reform titled “What’s Next for Criminal Justice Reform?”

The panel was moderated by Marshall Project Editor-in-Chief Bill Keller and panelists included Texas Criminal Justice Coalition Executive Director Ana Yáñez-Correa, state Rep. Abel Herrero, exoneree Michael Morton, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation Vikrant Reddy, and state Rep. James White.

Listen to audio on Texas Tribune

Maintaining Safety While Being Fiscally Responsible

The last several decades have seen a massive government expansion in crime. Over-criminalization has expanded state and federal prisons, causes a burden to taxpayers and a concerning cycle of recidivism. Because states can no longer finance this overkill response to low-level non-violent offenses, it is fiscally necessary that they reduce sentences. To accomplish this while maintaining safety for citizens, reentry programs, vocational training and drug-treatment programs are needed to ensure lower recidivism. This is particularly important for juveniles for which interventions are much more effective, saving taxpayer dollars in the future. To accomplish all of this for citizens states and municipalities are key for effective implementation.

The “get tough on crime” movement, emerging in the late 1960s and early 1970s led to enormous increases in drug arrests, longer prison sentences with mandatory minimums, more punitive juvenile justice sentencing and greater incarceration of juveniles, low-income individuals and people of color.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), about 6.98 million people were under some form of adult correctional supervision in the U.S. at yearend, 2011. This is the equivalent of about 1 in 34 adults – or about 2.9 percent of the adult population – in prison or jail, or on probation or parole.

By the end of 2012, there were around 1.35 million people incarcerated in state prisons, 217,800 in federal prisons and 744,500 in local jails. From 1998 to 2009, the state cost of mass incarceration of criminals increased from $12 billion to $52 billion per year.

Today, there is movement to reform the criminal justice system and reverse the trend of mass incarceration of nonviolent and drug related offenders. Federal, state and local leaders are looking for innovative ways to reduce the costs of criminal justice and corrections by keeping low-risk, nonviolent, drug involved offenders out of prison or jail, while still holding them accountable and ensuring the safety of our communities.

The Administration, Congress and many states are enacting new policies to slow the growth of prison populations and even downsizing corrections systems to save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Continue reading at Public CEO