The Pelican Institute on how to reduce Louisiana’s prison population

Louisiana leads the world in the number of people it imprisons, but the Pelican Institute, along with Texas Public Policy Foundation, have developed model legislation to remedy this problem.

Click here to learn more.

Fox News: “Conservatives join push to roll back mandatory prison sentences”

Following Marc Levin’s testimony before the U.S. Judiciary Committee, this Fox News story features Right on Crime, noting that “The project has since been part of recent, successful efforts in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina to reform their systems through such changes as reducing penalties for low-level drug possessions; expanding the use of time- and cost-efficient drug courts; using money once earmarked for prisons to improve law-enforcement strategies and expanding community-based programs for offenders, including treatment.”

Read the full article here.

Norquist-Gleason: Holder follows GOP lead in easing harsh drug laws

ROC signatory Grover Norquist co-authors this Reuters op-ed with Patrick Gleason, in which they further discuss how U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is late to the party regarding criminal justice reforms, noting that “it has been Republicans in the states who are leading the way.”

“Consider Texas, where the smart-on-crime policy reform movement began in 2003, when the state’s Republican legislators passed a law mandating that all non-dealer drug offenders convicted for possession of less than a gram be sentenced to probation instead of jail time.

Recognizing the success of smart-on-crime reforms in Texas, other states have now followed [Right on Crime's] lead.”

Read the full Reuters op-ed here.

NPR Weekend Edition Saturday: “What’s Wrong With Mandatory Sentencing?”

Marc Levin: “[there] are better ways to [hold offenders accountable] than mandatory minimums, particularly when it comes to non-violent offenders. And we think that the attorney general is a bit late to the party. It’s five years into the administration; and we’ve seen states like Ohio, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia, already roll back their excessive drug-sentencing policies. So it seems to be the one area today that folks are able to get together on in Washington.”

Click here to listen to the full NPR segment.

Right on Crime in United Liberty

Marc Levin: “It’s good to see the Administration following the lead of conservative states such as Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia that have proven it’s possible to reduce crime while also reducing criminal justice spending.”

Read the whole United Liberty article here.

Free Beacon: Taking On Crime

Excerpt from The Washington Free Beacon, originally published April 23, 2013 by Andrew Evans

Texas faced a choice in 2007: spend billions on new prisons to house its convicts or find creative ways to deal with criminals in the state.

State leaders chose the second option, and Texas’ reforms, which have been championed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, have become the model for a conservative movement to reform the criminal justice system.

The Texas foundation started the “Right on Crime” project in 2010; its “statement of principles” has attracted support from conservative public policy heads like Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Grover Norquist.

“It’s one of the more exciting things I’ve worked on,” Norquist said.  Click here to read more.

Two Smart on Crime States Post Results

Taxpayers in Pennsylvania are footing the bill for 454 fewer inmates this month than they were a year ago, while South Carolina’s citizens are paying for 2,700 fewer inmates.

Why? Pennsylvania created a more effective parole and processing system, while recent legislative alterations to drug and low-level crimes will further the prison population drop.

In South Carolina, the Legislature and Governor three years ago prioritized sending violent offenders to prison for a longer time, while providing for alternative sentences for nonviolent offenders, and created a more effective probation supervision system. The prison population drop resulted in two prison closures and $175 million in avoided prison construction costs.

Both states came to the realization that one-size-fits-all prison policies are expensive, and aren’t actually the best way to protect the public safety. Instead, prioritizing prison beds for violent offenders while doing more to get non-violent and low-risk offenders back on the right path can save millions and do far more to keep citizens safe.

Intensive Supervision for Young Offenders in South Carolina

South Carolina is expanding a program that focuses on young offenders—ages 17-25—who are amenable to rehabilitation and may be turned away from a life of crime.

Under South Carolina’s Youthful Offender Act, first-time offenders in that age group receive indeterminate sentences in conjunction with more intensive supervision aimed at reducing recidivism rates. Currently, this subset of offenders re-offends at a rate of 50 percent, considerably higher than the average rate for other adult offenders, which is only 30 percent.

The intensive supervision incorporates skill-building and education that is designed to ensure that the offenders have a trade and can earn a living outside of prison. The intensive supervision is also intended to build a community-based support system to ensure more effective reentry.

A $7.5 Million Shortfall is Expected for South Carolina’s Prisons

South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Jon Ozmint has credibility in his state.  Over the past seven years, the corrections budget in South Carolina has increased by 2%, while the state budget as a whole has increased by 35%.  Within these budget constraints, Ozmint has had some notable successes.  He has reduced escapes and assaults in South Carolina’s prisons, and the Department of Corrections has set GED completion records.

Now, Bloomberg reports that the state’s prison system will be running a $7.5 million shortfall in its current budget.  In the article, Ozmint says that ”[t]he only way to cut $7 million from our budget would be to lay off a lot of people really quickly and close a prison.”  The article further notes that ”Ozmint has twice proposed plans to release nonviolent offenders early and close a prison but said there was little political support in the Legislature.”  If Governor-Elect Nikki Haley retains Ozmint as SCDC Director, it seems he will have to make his case to the Legislature yet again.