Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On conservatism and criminal justice reform

Here's a "Right on Crime Minute" from our friends at the Right on Crime blog:

That doesn't sound like Marc or Vik narrating! Good production value; nicely done.

Relatedly, Washington Monthly has an article titled "The Conservative War on Prisons" in which Texas figures feature prominently. Here's a notable excerpt from the story's summation:
The lesson of the slowly changing politics of crime on the right is that policy breakthroughs in our current environment will happen not through “middle-path” coalitions of moderates, but as a result of changes in what strong, ideologically defined partisan activists and politicians come to believe is their own, authentically conservative or liberal position. Conservatives over the last few years haven’t gone “soft.” They’ve changed their minds about what prisons mean. Prisons increasingly stand for big-government waste, and prison guards look more and more like public school teachers.

This shift in meaning on the right happened mainly because of creative, persuasive, long-term work by conservatives themselves. Only advocates with unquestioned ideological bona fides, embedded in organizations known to be core parts of conservative infrastructure, could perform this kind of ideological alchemy. As Yale law professor Dan Kahan has argued, studies and randomized trials are useless in persuading the ideologically committed until such people are convinced that new information is not a threat to their identity. Until then, it goes in one ear and out the other. Only rock-ribbed partisans, not squishy moderates, can successfully engage in this sort of “identity vouching” for previously disregarded facts. Of course, there are limits to how far ideological reinvention can go. As political scientist David Karol has argued, it is unlikely to work when it requires crossing a major, organized member of a party coalition. ...

But that still leaves plenty of issues on which bipartisanship will be possible—as long as it doesn’t feel like compromise for its own sake.
Let's hope so. The 83rd session is nearly upon us.


Anonymous said...

Hide your wife. Hide your kids. Hide your wallet. If you are a sex offender, keep your head down. The Texas legislature is getting ready to begin...

Anonymous said...

This will be an interesting session. My prediction is that the crazy Tea Partiers say "We're not doing X until you do Y," but the Democrats don't do Y because they don't have to and the Republicans can't force it through because they lost their supermajority, so we end up at an earlier stalemate than in the last session, with even fewer laws being passed.

In other words, pretty much a perfect situation.


Amerloc said...

An interesting, related story: http://www.nextnewdeal.net/rortybomb/dagan-and-teles-conservative-movement-against-mass-incarceration