ROC signatory Mike Thompson: “States’ Improvements”

ROC signatory and President of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy Mike Thompson authored the following letter to the editor of the Virginian Pilot:

Prison is unquestionably the proper place for violent and repeat offenders, and long sentences for such dangerous felons will always be worth their hefty cost.But as Ken Cuccinelli and Deborah Daniels correctly argued in ‘Use prison time more effectively, humanely’ (column, June 24), many lower-level offenders can be effectively sanctioned in other ways without compromising public safety.

Using research to guide their efforts, a growing list of states Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota among them have reformed their correctional and sentencing systems to expand the use of prison alternatives. Such reforms adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support are not only saving states money but also reducing recidivism. These states hold nonviolent criminals accountable and keep communities safe.

Those who question such a strategy should take note of this compelling fact, reported recently by the Pew Charitable Trusts: States that have cut their imprisonment rates have experienced greater crime decreases than those that increased incarceration.

It’s hard to quarrel with evidence like that. Virginia’s legislators should take note.

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Former State Attorneys General Commit to cost-effective criminal justice reform

FORMER STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL COMMIT TO COST-EFFECTIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Right on Crime Adds New Signatories

Austin, TX —Right on Crime today announced the addition of conservative leaders who have signed its Statement of Principles.  These prominent individuals have expressed their commitment to public safety and cost-effective criminal justice reforms.

The new signatories are:

• Ken Cuccinelli, former Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia;

• Jim Petro, former Attorney General and State Auditor of the State of Ohio;

• Connor Boyack, President, Libertas Institute;

• Stephen Moore, chief economist for the Heritage Foundation and founder of the Club for Growth;

• Alfred S. Regnery, Board Member, Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund

“For far too long, the only answer to decreasing crime was to put more people in prison. We built prisons at rates we didn’t need and couldn’t afford, especially for non-violent offenders.  Now, we know there are alternatives that cost less and work better.  I am proud to sign on with the Right on Crime initiative to help fix this problem by making cost effective, data driven public safety decisions that reduce recidivism rates,” said Mr. Cuccinelli.

“Every advocate of limited government must face the facts: the criminal justice system presents one of the greatest and most compelling needs for reform. Because the government has been empowered to violate liberty when an individual commits a crime, it’s imperative that this power be appropriately restrained and only used when absolutely necessary. The status quo has far exceeded this guiding principle — we’ve got work to do,” said Mr. Boyack.

These new signatories join more than 60 prominent conservative leaders who have endorsed the principles of conservative criminal justice reform, including former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, former New Mexico Attorney General Hal Stratton and former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts.

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Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli supports our principles

At the annual CPAC gathering in Washington last week, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sounded off on why the principles of the Right on Crime campaign are good public policy.

Watch his speech by clicking here.

As the blog ConservativeByte.com reported, “Conservatives should lead the campaign to changing the culture of corrections in America,” he called out to the crowd of conservatives.”

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Virginia Focuses on Efficient Juvenile Justice

Texas and many other states have turned to free-market principles to increase the effectiveness and the efficiency of their juvenile justice systems. By prioritizing public safety in the expenditure of precious taxpayer dollars, free-market principles seek to keep streets safer and rehabilitate more juvenile offenders.

Virginia, too, is beginning to ask pointed questions about how their taxpayer dollars are being spent. As Mike Thompson points out in a recent issue of the Jefferson Policy Journal, the current tab for secure confinement of juveniles in Virginia stretches over $200 per day, per juvenile—almost $100,000 per year. And three-quarters of those youth are convicted of another offense within three years of release.

Virginia’s taxpayers deserve better. Thompson goes on to point out that prioritizing funding for programs proven to reduce delinquency in youths can result in substantial cost savings and lower crime rates. While secure confinement is necessary in some cases, most youth benefit far more from tailored, evidence-based programs that truly break the underlying delinquency cycles. And when those cycles are truncated at an early stage, Virginia’s taxpayers and citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries.

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City of Richmond Debates Juvenile Detention

The City Council and Mayor in Richmond, Virginia, are looking long and hard at their juvenile detention policies.

A recent city council meeting included a discussion of a recently closed city-run juvenile detention facility in Richmond. An average of 39 juveniles were detained after arrest in the facility before the state put the facility on probation and the mayor closed it.

Officials sought to compare the facility to private options or facilities within a regional partnership, but were unable to do so as there was not sufficient data to assess how much the facility cost the city.

The meeting produced no final decision beyond an agreement that more study is needed.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation has undertaken such a study, and recently released a report on detention alternatives that can save municipalities significant money while improving outcomes for juvenile offenders. The open debate and recently closed facility in Richmond provides an excellent opportunity for consideration of those alternatives and how they may benefit Virginia residents as well.

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