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November 7, 2011

"The GOP and Criminal Justice"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new piece of reporting by Steve Yoder and published at The Crime Report.  Here is how the lengthy piece gets started, along with a snippet discussing where the tea party movement fits (or does not fit) into this important political story: 

To understand the distance that the Republican Party has traveled on criminal justice, observe the record of Texas’ longest-serving governor. In 2001, just after Rick Perry assumed the job, he vetoed a bill that would have ended the practice of arresting those suspected of class C misdemeanors—fine-only crimes that don’t require jail time, such as traffic offenses. 

But fast-forward to 2007.  That year, he signed a law allowing police officers to issue citations instead of making arrests for certain class A and B misdemeanors, including marijuana possession. Perry’s reversal came about in part because the state faced a projected shortfall of 17,000 inmate beds. 

In Texas and other red states, formerly law-and-order GOP lawmakers are taking the lead in reforming criminal justice systems. That shift is the result of two curves sloping in opposite directions — a dramatic fall in crime rates and exploding state spending on corrections (the second-fastest-growing category of state spending behind Medicaid). 

So should a Republican win the presidency, a return to get-tough approaches seems unlikely. Yet ill-targeted budget cuts or sensational crimes linked to reforms still could take policy in the other direction.... 

Last December, conservative reformers launched a new vehicle for their efforts — Right on Crime, a statement of principles signed by leaders like Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush, Bill Bennett, and Ralph Reed.... 

To date, the Tea Party wing ... hasn’t taken a general position on criminal justice policy. “I've not heard the issue discussed much in the movement,” says Mark Meckler, national coordinator for the largest group, the Tea Party Patriots.  [Pat] Nolan says there have been no formal discussions between the Right on Crime group and the Tea Party.

Some recent and older related posts: 

November 7, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"So should a Republican win the presidency, a return to get-tough approaches seems unlikely. Yet ill-targeted budget cuts or sensational crimes linked to reforms still could take policy in the other direction...."

Oh please. I don't know why anyone would think that "crimes linked to reforms" should play any role in assessing whether the reforms were a good idea. It would be a lot better if we HID the crimes linked to reforms so a bunch of Neandethals won't just use them for talking points.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 2:29:11 PM

Michael Dukakis.

Posted by: boo | Nov 7, 2011 3:54:26 PM

The only Greek in America without a personality, and oh-so-tough on crime.

Posted by: adamakis | Nov 8, 2011 9:50:33 AM

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