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August 29, 2012

Reform records notable (though not so far noted) at Republican National Convention

I listened to most of the major speeches during the first night of the Republican National Convention; not surprisingly, I heard no mention of crime and punishment issues.  But that does not mean RNC speakers lack notable records on crime and punishment issues, as this post from FAMM Florida Project Director Greg Newburn highlights:

The Republican National Committee's list of speakers for the GOP convention ... [includes many speakers who have] embraced the “Smart on Crime” model ..., and in the process have demolished the tired idea that conservatives aren’t open to common-sense criminal justice reform.

Take Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who could never be confused with a liberal.  He has argued that “we have not been very successful in incarcerating our way out of the drug problem.  We’ve created a bigger problem.  Our prisons are teeming with people who don’t need to be incarcerated as full-time inmates . . . I’m not soft on crime. Crime needs to be punished, but realistically, and justly.”...

Ohio Governor John Kasich ... has a lifetime rating of 88% with the American Conservative Union.  Governor Kasich made criminal justice reform a priority of his administration, and last year he signed a reform bill designed to “send low-level nonviolent felons to rehabilitation facilities in lieu of prison, put a credit-earned system in place, and adjust prison sentences for drug and petty theft offenses.  The package was proposed as a means to save money, reduce recidivism, and ease overcrowding.”...

Another speaker, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, recently joined Right on Crime, a group of conservative heavyweights that supports criminal justice reform (including mandatory minimum sentencing reform) and includes Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, and Ed Meese.  Governor Bush said of the effort, “States across the country, including Florida, are proving that policies based on these sound conservative principles will reduce crime and its cost to taxpayers.”

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin worked with Right on Crime, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and Republican legislators to craft a comprehensive Justice Reinvestment bill that included sentencing reforms and is projected to save her state millions of dollars.  On signing the bill, Governor Fallin said, “[I]n addition to saving tax dollars, [community sentencing options ] will help nonviolent offenders, many of whom have substance abuse problems, to receive treatment and safely get back into their communities.”

Of all the speakers at the convention, Senator Rand Paul might be the most vocal critic of mandatory minimum sentencing.  Not only has Senator Paul blocked federal drug legislation because it contained mandatory minimums, he’s said on the record that “On mandatory minimums, I don’t think teenagers accused of possessing drugs should get twenty years in prison.  I’ve fought to get rid of this.”

Perhaps most notably, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said recently that “[t]he war on drugs, while well-intentioned, has been a failure.”  Christie signed reform legislation designed to reduce New Jersey’s reliance on incarceration in drug cases, and made the case that such reforms go beyond saving money:  “If you're pro-life, as I am, you can't be pro-life just in the womb,” he said. “Every life is precious and every one of God's creatures can be redeemed, but they won't if we ignore them.”

Across the country, conservatives understand that criminal justice systems should be subject to the same analysis as every other area of public policy.  They realize we spend far too much on incarceration and receive far too little in return.  Thankfully, some of the GOP’s “brightest stars” have made criminal justice reform a part of governing and leading “effectively and admirably.” It’s good to see the Republican Party not only embracing such reforms, but also rewarding the conservative leaders in criminal justice reform with a chance to share their views at the convention.

Some recent and older related posts:

August 29, 2012 at 12:08 AM | Permalink


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There's a reason not one of these speakers mentioned crime or criminal justice issues: Crime is now lower than at any time in 50 years. What this means is that people don't view it as a pressing concern, certainly not as compared with the wonders of the Obama "recovery."

For about the last half of those 50 years, we have been incarcerating at a record rate the people who commit crime but, so far as anyone could tell from the FAMM press release, the increase in imprisoning criminals has had zilch to do with the decrease in the amount of crime they commit.

You gotta love these people.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 29, 2012 9:32:56 AM

Yes, Bill and people like FAMM are trying to make us have to relearn the lessons we have already know.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 29, 2012 10:18:02 AM

Ya got it, Bill.

All them so-called conservative are really jes low-crime-riders. They're all gittin' soft - especially the Califoreigners like Meese.

Thanks fer helpen to wakem up to reality.

Posted by: Al Ammo | Aug 29, 2012 5:28:39 PM

Al Ammo --

Is it your position that the increase in imprisonment and the drop in crime over the last generation are unrelated?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 30, 2012 8:53:41 AM

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