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August 14, 2011

Might GOP start debating Texas crime and punishment with Rick Perry in the 2012 race?

Regular readers know that I always find fascinating when national political discussions and debate turn to issues of crime and punishment.   And, because the record of Texas on such issues is so dynamic, I am both hopeful and intrigued that the addition of Texas Gov Rick Perry to the GOP nomination race might bring these issues into focus as Election 2012 takes shape.

I suspect most readers know that Texas has a remarkable modern history with the death penalty, and Gov Perry holds the notable record of having signed more death warrants presided over more executions than any other Governor in the US in at least the last 50 years.  Less well known, but no less notable, is Texas's record on non-capital sentencing: the state has pioneered smart on crime reforms, reduced incarceration levels, eliminated juveniles LWOP for murder and reduced crime all the while.

Whether and how the media and Perry's adversaries discuss these matter will be quite interesting to watch in the months ahead.

August 14, 2011 at 04:36 PM | Permalink


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Reduced the reported crime rate. That has nothing to do with reality, but only with political pressure on the police to toss most reports in the trash. Until the household survey is resumed by the DOJ, please, do not say, crime in less. You can say, the crime rate is entirely unknown.

The DOJ suspended the survey to improve its methodology. It was already the absolute gold standard of crime measurement, and nothing was wrong with it, except for it results, perhaps. It strongly validated the sentencing guidelines before they were made discretionary by the Supreme Court.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 14, 2011 5:35:23 PM

Rick Perry does not sign death warrants. The District court where the inmate was sentenced sets the execution date. The Governor has nothing to do with it at all. If the Board of Pardons and Paroles recommends clemency, the Governor can commute it. Otherwise, he can only order a one time 30 day stay.

Posted by: DaveP | Aug 14, 2011 6:25:19 PM

I suspect New York did even better without death penalty

Posted by: Dott. claudio giusti, italia | Aug 14, 2011 6:45:08 PM

There is so much crime in New York, you may be safer in Fallujah. The police has just stopped making pointless arrests leading to no punishment. Frightening place, no longer the low crime place it was 10 years ago. They had an upward definition of theft. Do not bother the police with any matter smaller than $10,000. They will put your report in the trash.

From the Village Voice, an article about the recording of police instructions given to officers.


Quotas of activity such as stop and frisk. But do not arrest people, and do not bring back a bunch of crime reports.

Again, please, stop saying crime has decreased. These statistics are from self-serving left wing lawyer politicians. Big government types. They are out and out lying.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 14, 2011 7:29:20 PM

I don't think crime issues are going to get much traction this election cycle. Economic issues are going to dominate pretty much to the exclusion of all else.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Aug 14, 2011 9:43:08 PM


You said in a post on August 12th:


Whether we can afford it or not is entirely separate from whether it was enacted because the voters wanted it."

I do not want it. Why should I pay for it?

Voters are dumb because of public education (indoctrination, patriotism, however you want to simplify complex issues)!

I will start a campaign to eliminate public indoctrination.

You and Bill can challenge the campaign.

But look at how every party tries to rush to the center.

Posted by: albeed | Aug 14, 2011 10:11:53 PM

Thanks for the reminder, DaveP, that the Texas Gov does not sign death warrants. I have tweaked the post accordingly.

Posted by: Doug B. | Aug 15, 2011 12:27:30 AM

Me, rush to the center? I'm anti-moderate. I don't think I've ever denied that.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Aug 15, 2011 12:45:24 AM

I really appreciate your ideas and information you have mention here. I'm also agree and in favor to your knowledgeable facts and information that gathered. Thanks for having it here.. :)

Posted by: Fantasy Football Tips | Aug 15, 2011 4:47:18 AM

The main reforms that Texas has been praised for were vetoed by Perry in 2005 before he signed essentially similar legislation in 2007. So he's positioned himself as a skeptical supporter on Texas' de-incarceration bills, and vetoed quite a bit of important reform legislation. Meanwhile, there's no way Perry will run on the issue, so IMO it will seldom come up. He was against the "Texas model" before he was for it, meaning there is plenty in his record to deflect criticisms that his policies have been too soft, and he's to the right of most Texas Republicans on criminal justice.

BTW, Perry's most impressive crimjust decision that's seldom discussed is his elimination of funding from the Byrne grant program (which are block grants distributed by Governors) for dozens of regional narcotics task forces. (See a pair of reports I authored, here and here, that exposed many of the problems precipitating their shuttering.) Hundreds of narcotics officers were either redeployed to their home agencies or in some cases simply lost their jobs when the grants ran out. The money was shifted - about 50/50 - to drug courts and other diversion programs that judges wanted along with some highly politicized border-security pork initiatives.

That's probably the biggest difference on criminal justice between Perry and other governors running. In Massachussetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, etc, those Governors all spent Byrne money on drug task forces, but Perry got rid of them to reduce drug-war corruption and pursue other anti-drug strategies. He's had two elections since then, and because of the whole Nixon-to-China phenomenon, I don't think anybody ever used that, successfully or otherwise, to call Rick Perry soft on crime.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Aug 15, 2011 9:03:24 AM

Perry's actions in the Kenneth Foster case were reprehensible. He never even called the victim's family, and he said nothing about the smear campaign (repeated in the press) against the girlfriend of the victim.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 15, 2011 9:54:24 AM

if there was anyone who could be a worse president for this country than this lieing two-faced little crook! i've yet to see them in this new crop of useless politicians!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 15, 2011 10:57:35 AM

Enjoy, professor.

Posted by: Anon de plum | Aug 15, 2011 11:37:47 AM

That Rick Perry has a serious fan base on this blog is pretty revealing.

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Posted by: soccer jersey | Aug 19, 2011 12:48:54 AM

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