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May 10, 2017

Highlighting that conservative voters say they support criminal justice reform efforts

Vikrant Reddy authored this National Review commentary discussing the results of a recent interesting poll (which I highlighted here) under the headlined "The Conservative Base Wants Criminal-Justice Reform."  Here are excerpts:

Last week, the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) polled several hundred conservative voters to assess whether they recognize criminal justice as an important issue currently facing the nation. While specific reasons for their interest are debatable, 81 percent of Trump voters polled described the issue as either “very important” or “somewhat important” — a definite consensus.

Ordinarily, polls that confirm the status quo are not interesting.  This poll, however, caught the attention of those who have been asking whether conservative attitudes towards criminal-justice policy may have changed since the November 2016 election.  It’s a fair question.

The new presidential administration has given mixed messages, sometimes using strong rhetoric about increasing criminal penalties, but other times speaking with thoughtfulness about expanding treatment for opioid addiction.  Some prominent administration figures, such as Vice President Mike Pence, have a history as reformers.  Others, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have a history as skeptics.  The views of the president himself are unpredictable.

Furthermore, when asked if judges should have more freedom to assign punishments other than prison (such as civil or community service), 63 percent of Trump voters “strongly agreed” or “agreed.”  When asked about the practice of civil asset forfeiture, which allows law-enforcement agencies to seize an individual’s property without requiring that the individual be charged or convicted of a crime, 59 percent of Trump voters found common ground with their liberal counterparts, responding that that they “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed” with such policing practices....

People surprised by the results of the poll ought to focus on one important figure: Fifty-four percent of Trump voters said they knew someone who is or has been incarcerated. That may surprise progressives who accuse conservatives of being out of touch and aloof from criminal-justice realities, but it shouldn’t surprise anybody who works in the criminal-justice arena and regularly talks to conservatives about their views....

Increasingly, then, the Americans who experience criminal justice as a personal issue are rural conservatives. Consider the example of Oklahoma.  On the night that Trump won the presidency, voters also approved changes to the state criminal code that reclassified certain drug felonies as misdemeanors, effectively expressing the view that too many drug offenses in Oklahoma were being treated with needlessly long bouts of incarceration. Oklahomans appear to prefer better probation and parole that monitors drug offenders and provides them with treatment.  This referendum vote took place in a state in which every single county voted for Trump.  A higher percentage of people (65.3 percent) voted for Trump in Oklahoma, than in any state, except Wyoming and West Virginia. It’s hard to be “Trumpier” than Oklahoma.

Leadership matters in public policy, and for that reason, it would be good to see clear support for criminal-justice reform from the White House.  Conservative legislators and governors, however, do not need to wait for cues from the administration.  The conservative base is already providing them. They have wanted criminal justice reform for a decade, and their minds did not change because of one election.

Recent prior related post:

May 10, 2017 at 11:29 AM | Permalink


I have talked about intractable recidivism. I guess it applies to law school professors. How many pro-criminal posts have passed here? Isn't time to see one pro-victim post? I am getting the feeling I will see a pro-black or pro-Jewish post on the David Duke web site before I see a pro-victim post here. This blog needs a full time Truth Squad to counter the unrelenting pro-criminal lawyer lying propaganda.

Posted by: David Behar | May 10, 2017 12:34:20 PM

So much for civility out of Supremacy Claus. Maybe it would be more palatable if he would just number his rants 1 through 5. Then he could just post "Number 3!" and save us all time and space.


Posted by: bruce cunningham | May 10, 2017 3:26:53 PM

Bruce. I am your best friend. You will thank me later, when you are making 4 times what you are now, and have 10 times the public esteem.

I want to forcibly shut down the Top Tier law schools, to arrest all Deans, all appellate judges, all lawyer legislators, and all responsible lawyer officials in policy positions in the Executive. Then, do so every 10 years. To deter.

Imagine the openings for yourself. Everyone here is safe. I have not seen anyone in the lawyer hierarchy, here, not even Bill. I hope some are readers, and turn themselves in voluntarily.

Posted by: David Behar | May 10, 2017 5:36:23 PM

CKI. "Arlington, VA." Washington elite scum. Dismissed.

Posted by: David Behar | May 10, 2017 5:38:05 PM

another comment section with five worthless posts, of no value to anyone. The comment section is looking like a ghost town, Doug. With serious commenters leaving town.


Posted by: bruce cunningham | May 10, 2017 9:49:43 PM

Bruce supports decarceration. So he is desperate to have criminals on the loose, for greater job security.

Go to page 103, Table 11. Your kind stinks. You are a disgrace. All you seem to do well is to hand carry plea bargains and to betray your innocent clients.


Posted by: David Behar | May 10, 2017 11:51:07 PM

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