“The American Legislative Exchange Council, long a proponent of privatizing prisons, no longer has an official position on that issue (nor does it have any prison corporations left as members). Instead, it is pushing bills that would reduce prison populations. For fiscal hawks, the point now is not to incarcerate more efficiently or profitably, but to incarcerate less. They are making that leap with a boost from two other camps: evangelicals and experts.” – Dagan & Teles, 2012.
Tough on crime. It’s long been the mantra of U.S. political conservatives. But in recent years, Republican luminaries such as Newt GIngrich, William Bennett, and Ed Meese have been recalculating the cost of incarcerating millions of American citizens.
“There is an urgent need to address the astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential,” Gingrich wrote in 2011. “The criminal-justice system is broken, and conservatives must lead the way in fixing it.”
This outlook has become so prevalent it became a plank in the Republican party’s 2012 platform:
“Prisons should do more than punish; they should attempt to rehabilitate and institute proven prisoner reentry systems to reduce recidivism and future victimization.”
You can read more about these efforts to reform the criminal justice system on the conservative blog Right on Crime, an organization that has attracted the support of Gingrich, Bennett, and Florida governor Jeb Bush.
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A blog by the Law Offices of the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office.