As states struggle with budget shortfalls of historic proportions, a growing number of them are rethinking their decades-long obsession with incarceration. For the first time in forty years, conservative leaders and think tanks are talking about taking smarter, rather than tougher, approaches to crime, and touting reform legislation that promotes alternatives to incarceration and expansion of parole eligibility for a host of offenses.
-Vanita Gupta and Ezekiel Edwards, “The Blog”
The issue of criminal justice reform is unlikely to show up on any campaign ads this election season. Given the focus on the economy, perhaps, it should. Authors Gupta and Edwards cite a handful of sucessful bipartisan efforts to decrease incarceration rates, slow government spending and better protect communities.
In another piece published in August, the Washington Times found that despite growing bipartisan agreement, little is being done at the federal level to decrease incarceration and recidivism rates. The article found, however, that some state legislators are reaching across the aisle to push forward innovative reform.
Bipartisan reforms at the state level have proved to be socially and economically beneficial. Texas’ reforms saved an estimated $440 million in a single year. Over the past few years, its prison population has decreased, along with its crime rates, allowing the state to close a prison for the first time in history in 2011.
– David Keene, The Washington Times
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