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July 29, 2014

"Right on Crime: A Return to First Principles for American Conservatives"

The title of this post is the title of this new article by Marc Levin and Vikrant Reddy which I recently discovered via the Right on Crime blog. Here is an excerpt from the tail-end of the article's introduction:

The idea that conservatives are ideologically committed to mass incarceration is — and always was — a caricature.  American incarceration rates increased significantly in recent decades, and many on the right supported this increase, but conservative support for increased incarceration was linked to unique historical circumstances, not to any philosophical commitment.  Moreover, while conservatives were correct in the early 1970s that some increase in incarceration was necessary to ensure that violent and dangerous offenders served significant prison terms, the sixfold increase in incarceration from the early 1970s to the mid-2000s reached many nonviolent, low-risk offenders.  Now, as crime rates are declining, conservatives are increasingly focused on developing policies that prioritize using limited prison space to house violent offenders while looking for alternative sanctions to hold nonviolent offenders accountable, restore victims, and protect public safety.  In generating and advocating these policies, conservatives are returning to first principles: skepticism of state power, insistence on government accountability, and concern for how public policy affects social norms.

In this article, we discuss the conservative return to first principles in criminal justice.  In Part II, we explain the modern problem of mass incarceration.  Then, in Part III, we note the historical reasons behind the push to increase incarceration in the 1980s and 1990s.  In Part IV, we detail legislative reforms to remedy the incarceration problem that are consistent with conservative ideological principles.

July 29, 2014 at 09:53 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"and many on the right supported this increase, but conservative support for increased incarceration was linked to unique historical circumstances, not to any philosophical commitment. "

Now that is genuinely funny.

Posted by: just me again | Jul 30, 2014 2:23:22 AM

Just more lawyers running their con. No real difference between conservative and liberal when it comes to protecting criminals and lawyer jobs.

Start with evaluations using non-fictitious crimes rather than the fictitious adjudicated crime. Go on to count the crimes. Use prison conduct citations as a factor in decisions, as long as the prisoner is old. Dedicate 10% of any budget to evaluate the outcomes. Obtain a DOJ certificate of absolute immunity to interview released people about unknown crimes.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 30, 2014 6:52:26 AM

Wow, a whole analysis of mass incarceration that doesn't mention race as a cause or racial injustice as a consequence.

Apparently Drug Czar Bennett was responding rationally to historical circumstances when he suggested beheading drug dealers was morally justified, as was then Speaker Gingrich when he introduced legislation for life imprisonment for an ounce of marijuana.

Interesting to see Leavitt's work cited to support the impact of incarceration on the crime decline being 25-35%, but no mention that the same research says 50% was because of legalizing abortion.

I was waiting to see how the skepticism of state power co-existed with continued support of the death penalty and the trend to secrecy with drugs, sources and execution protocols.

I really like this blog and learn a lot from it, but I wish Doug would not keep giving the spotlight several times a week to this warmed over propaganda.

Posted by: Paul | Jul 30, 2014 10:23:21 AM

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