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July 14, 2018

The American Conservative reviews how "Law-and-Order Texas Takes on Criminal Justice Reform"

I spotlighted in this post last week this lengthy commentary in The American Conservative under the full headline "Where the Right Went Wrong on Criminal Justice: Ending our 'incarceration nation' would help return conservatives to their roots, acting on principles most of them already hold."  Now comes the second extended piece in a series appears here under the full headline "Law-and-Order Texas Takes on Criminal Justice Reform:Seeking alternatives to bloated prison populations and recidivism, the Lone Star state leads others to pursue to the same." Here are excerpts

Though Jerry Madden had no prior background in corrections or law enforcement, he helped change the course of both fields. Madden was serving in the Texas House in 2005 when he got called into the speaker’s office. Speaker Tom Craddock, a fellow conservative Republican, told Madden he would be chairing the corrections committee. Madden asked Craddock what he should do. Craddock uttered eight words that changed Madden’s life and altered the course of American corrections policy: “Don’t build new prisons, they cost too much.”

Texas, even more than most other states at the time, had been on a prison-building spree. It had reached a point where the return on investment was low. Madden used his training as a statistical engineer to hunt down the data about what wasn’t working, or could easily be changed, throughout the corrections system. Along with his counterpart in the state Senate, John Whitmire, Madden put together a package to overhaul parts of the state’s criminal justice system....

Recidivism fell quickly in Texas. Back in 2005, the state was paroling 21,000 prisoners, 11,000 of whom returned. A decade later, the state paroled 28,000 prisoners and about 4,500 came back. “It’s an effort to continue getting the gains in public safety we’ve been getting for 20 years now, while also reducing our extraordinarily high levels of incarceration,” says Vikrant Reddy, a senior fellow at the Charles Koch Institute.

The success of the Texas model stirred other states to replicate it, beginning with Kansas, Ohio, and South Carolina. The fact that Texas had a “hang ’em high” reputation, built not just on high incarceration rates but also on its status as the nation’s most active executioner, helped convince conservative legislators in other states that the idea of providing treatment for prisoners wasn’t some bleeding-heart proposal. Rather it was a skeptical redirection of government funds away from a strictly brick-and-mortar approach that demonstrably had not worked.

And so the Texas experiment became a model elsewhere. Cost savings and statistics that might on paper have been just as impressive out of California or Vermont wouldn’t have swayed so many red-state legislators, Reddy says, particularly the Deep South converts the criminal justice reform movement has found in places such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Georgia. “It was a tremendous stroke of luck for the country that Texas was the first to step out of the gate,” says Adam Gelb, who directs the Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project, which provides technical assistance to states on criminal justice policies.

Nearly three-dozen states have now enacted policies that mirror, to a greater or lesser extent, the Texas template. Every state has done something to address prisoner reentry programs and employment. The impact of these efforts is now being felt in Washington.

Prior related post:

July 14, 2018 at 10:38 AM | Permalink



Posted by: Dan Jay | Jul 15, 2018 4:45:03 AM

Speaking of conservative principles and TX #cjreform, check out this podcast featuring Texas conservative leaders on why they supported reform measures in the state Republican party platform. And here's a summary of #cjreform measures that made it into the Texas GOP platform. Several items made it into the platforms for both TX parties.

Posted by: Scott Henson | Jul 15, 2018 6:20:38 AM

hmmmmm. 4500 coming back? Yeah that's improvement--but also a lot of victimization.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 15, 2018 9:39:42 AM

Address: The American Conservative
910 17th Street, NW
Suite 312
Washington, DC 20006-2626

Pro-criminal, Washington DC, swamp. Dismissed.

Baltimore arrests went from 100,000 to 25,000 a year, after being Fergusoned by Rod Rosenstein. Is that evidence crime has dropped in Baltimore?

Only household surveys of crime victimization have the slightest scientific validity. Posts like this one are just advocacy for criminals, the clients of the lawyer profession.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 15, 2018 10:01:23 AM

Scott Henson tolerates no pro-victim comment from the world of reality, on his pro-criminal blog from the world of far left fantasy.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 15, 2018 12:02:25 PM

This is the sole remedy to crime. The rest is a pro-criminal, rent seeking scam. That includes every legal precedent ever discussed in this blog.


Posted by: David Behar | Jul 15, 2018 1:54:35 PM

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