“Prison Reform is Bigger in Texas”

ROC signatories Jerry Madden, Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich sit down with The Daily Beast to discuss the origins of the criminal justice reform movement in Texas.

“Traditionally, the politics [of prison reform] were that conservatives said ‘tough on crime’ and ‘the longer you put people in prison, the better,’” Norquist told me. “Over time, the cost of prisons, the cost of the judicial system, the length of some of the mandatory minimums that were being thrown out, got to be such that conservatives started saying ‘Wait a minute, if we’re trying to reduce crime, are we doing this in the most cost-effective way? Are there better ways to approach this?’” Click here to read more.

This article also appeared in Yahoo! News.

Mississippi HB 585: Recommendations of the Corrections and Criminal Justice Task Force

Why does Mississippi need HB585? Mississippi’s prison population has grown by 17 percent in the last decade, topping 22,600 inmates last year. The state now has the second-highest imprisonment rate in the country, trailing only Louisiana. Without action, these trends will continue and Mississippi prisons will need to house 1,990 more inmates by 2024 – costing taxpayers an additional $266 million.

What will HB 585 do for Mississippi’s criminal justice system? HB 585 will enact “true minimums” to guarantee that nonviolent and violent offenders are never released prior to serving 25 and 50 percent of their sentences, respectively.

Click here to read the full version of “HB 585: Recommendations of the Corrections and Criminal Justice Task Force.”

Governor Phil Bryant: Mississippi Legislature Votes to Adopt “Right on Crime” Criminal Justice Reform Measures

The following statement was released by Governor Phil Bryant regarding Mississippi’s package of criminal justice reforms.

JACKSON—House Bill 585, Mississippi’s package of criminal justice reform measures, has passed the Mississippi House and Mississippi Senate and should soon come to Gov. Phil Bryant for review. The reforms were developed over several months as the result of a bipartisan task force effort that included consultation with the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“We pledged to Mississippians that we would make this the ‘public safety session’, and we have worked hard to develop a research-based plan that is tough on crime while using tax dollars wisely where they make the most impact,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “This bill ensures that violent criminals are held accountable for their crimes, and it provides a second chance to veterans and other Mississippians who have made mistakes want to take steps to get their lives back on track.

“I appreciate the hard work of Rep. Andy Gibson, Sen. Brice Wiggins, the leadership in the House and Senate, the members of the criminal justice task force and the PEW Charitable Trusts in researching this issue and helping move these reforms through the legislative process. I look forward to receiving the bill and reviewing it closely.”


Right on Crime congratulates Governor Rick Perry

Right on Crime congratulates Governor Rick Perry
Perry receives Governor of the Year Award for his support of drug-court programs

Austin, TX — Governor Rick Perry was today presented the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ Governor of the Year Award. This year marks the 25th anniversary of drug courts — treatment programs that help rehabilitate non-violent drug offenders as an alternative to incarceration — and Governor Perry is the first recipient of this prestigious award. Under Governor Perry’s leadership, Texas has saved an estimated $3 billion in prison spending, and is now home to 136 drug courts.

“We heartily congratulate Governor Perry for his well-deserved award as Governor of the Year from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals,” said Marc Levin, Director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice and Right on Crime. “We have been privileged to work with the Governor and other Texas policymakers over the last several years to expand drug courts in Texas. It is clear that these drug courts are working to combat substance abuse and crime.”

“The diversion of appropriate offenders to drug courts has contributed to savings of $3 billion dollars, as Texas has closed three prisons instead of building the 17,000 new beds that in 2007 were projected to be needed by 2012,” added Levin. “Most important, Texas has its lowest crime rate since 1968. We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Perry and other Texas policymakers to build on this success, and we are confident this award will only add to the momentum for taking the next steps to improve Texas’ criminal justice system.”

More information about Governor Perry receiving the National Award for Criminal Justice Reform can be found here: http://t.co/NBkKBoNZFm

Austin American-Statesman: “Keep 17-year-olds in juvenile system”

Marc Levin: “Certainly, hold [juvenile offenders] accountable. But in the right place and under the right circumstances — and that is not adult prison.”

Click here to read more.

ROC signatory Jerry Madden led the way in developing TX justice reinvestment strategy

Right on Crime signatory Jerry Madden is credited by the Houston Chronicle as being a pioneer for early Texas criminal justice reforms.

ROC signatory Tony Perkins appaluds Mississippi reforms

Tony Perkins, Right on Crime signatory and President of the Family Research Council released a statement commending Governor Phil Bryant for his “leadership on sentencing reforms.”

“This reform measure turns the lens of accountability on the criminal justice system to ensure our public safety policies are anchored in proven, effective practices that improve public safety and build stronger families. We need to keep serious, violent criminals in prison while redirecting nonviolent offenders into treatment, job training, education and other programs that, along with drug courts and other innovative approaches, make it less likely they will commit future crimes.”

Click here to read more.

Right on Crime legislation passed in Mississippi

Governor Phil Bryant signed into law HB585 — a sweeping reform bill that has the state on the road to getting right on crime.

This story was also covered by WLOX 13.

Right on Crime Signatories Applaud New Criminal Justice Reform Bill Passed by Mississippi Legislature

Right on Crime Signatories Applaud New Criminal Justice Reform Bill Passed by Mississippi Legislature

Several of the prominent conservative leaders who serve as signatories to the Right on Crime Statement of Principles released statements today applauding the bill passed this week by the Mississippi Legislature. House Bill 585 was resoundingly passed with a landslide vote in both chambers and represents a comprehensive public safety reform package designed to cut crime and taxpayer costs.

The bill is now on the desk of Governor Phil Bryant, who, along with Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn, has led the Mississippi criminal justice system overhaul since mid-2013.

Statements from Right on Crime signatories about Mississippi House Bill 585:

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform: “This has worked in Texas and other states across the South. It has cut crime and cut government spending. It’s based on solid conservative principles and it’s what good governance is all about.”

David Keene, former President of the National Rifle Association and former Chairman of the American Conservative Union: “Mississippi’s reforms reflect conservative ideals: public safety, personal responsibility and limited government. Many states have made these kinds of changes, and mostly they’ve been led by conservatives who understand these issues from both a budgetary and crime prevention perspective.”

Richard Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com: “People now understand that we can’t just take their money and build more and more prisons year after year. Mississippi leaders studied their criminal justice system and came up with a strong set of reforms that will establish more certainty in sentencing, prioritize prison beds for chronic violent offenders, and contain taxpayer costs.”

Pat Nolan, Director of the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform: “The reforms in Mississippi’s new bill have been proven effective in other states at keeping the public safe while saving money. That’s a combination that every taxpayer will like.”

For seven months, the 21-member Mississippi Corrections and Criminal Justice Task Force, comprised of judges, prosecutors, sheriffs, and elected officials, conducted an exhaustive investigative process. The Task Force studied the research about what works and what doesn’t in the correctional field and learned about reforms that are reducing crime and government spending in other states, such as Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas, ultimately concluding that Mississippi was earning a poor return on its public safety investment. Without reform, state taxpayers would have to pay another $266 million bill for new prison costs over the next ten years.

The Task Force offered 19 research-tested recommendations designed to give Mississippians more public safety at less taxpayer expense. These policy proposals formed the basis for widely-supported omnibus HB 585, aiming to chart a new direction for Mississippi, cutting crime and saving state taxpayers a minimum of $266 million in the next decade.

In an op-ed in the Clarion-Ledger, director of public affairs at Mississippi State University Sid Salter praised the efforts behind HB 585: “[I]n terms of common-sense criminal justice reforms designed to reduce the staggering and ever-escalating costs of Mississippi’s criminal justice system, few legislatures have taken on the real world issues of crime and punishment in a more responsible and bipartisan manner than has the 2014 session.”

Reform prisons the right way

There is a new conservative prison reform movement in America. It is working to remove or lesson mandatory minimum sentences, and to increase releases of non-violent criminals, and to reverse prison policies many of which were previously passed into law by conservatives.

Click here to read more.