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December 25, 2006

The right's prison conversion

In a fitting piece for the holiday season, the New York Times Magazine ran this extended article entitled "The Right Has a Jailhouse Conversion."  The piece effectively explores the Second Chance Act and modern changes in the politics of crime.  Here is an introductory snippet:

[A] decline in the exploitation of crime coincides with an odd and surprising change in the politics of crime.  The G.O.P., the party of Richard Nixon’s 1968 law-and-order campaign and the Willie Horton commercial, is beginning to embrace the idea that prisoners have not only souls that need saving but also flesh that needs caring for in this world.  Increasingly, Republicans are talking about helping ex-prisoners find housing, drug treatment, mental-health counseling, job training and education.  They're also reconsidering some of the more punitive sentencing laws for drug possession....

Perhaps most remarkably, the outgoing Republican-controlled Congress came tantalizingly close to passing the Second Chance Act, a bill that focuses not on how to “lock them up” but on how to let them out.  The bill may become law soon, if Democrats continue to welcome the new conservative interest in rehabilitation.

As detailed in posts below, I have long been spotlighting the importance of recent evolutions in the politics of crime:

December 25, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Permalink


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Prof. Berman, I read this piece and could not figure out the author's agenda. It read like a puff piece for the RNC and am disappointed in the editor that approved it for publication. Is the author really trying to convince us that reactionaries like Sam Brownback are interested in prisoner rights? The proof is in the pudding - the proposal budgets such little money to this project as to make it a joke. When I see that the number is in the billions then I will be convinced.

Posted by: Bernie Kleinman | Dec 26, 2006 8:55:10 PM

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