Monday, June 05, 2006

Conservative think tank gives solutions for jail overcrowding

When you focus on finding solutions instead of exacerbating your enemies' problems, often conservative answers sound a lot like liberal ones - especially where, as so often happens on criminal justice questions, impending crises require that pragmatism trump ideology. Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation suggests three ways to relieve overincarceration pressures at the Harris County jail in the Houston Chronicle ("Reducing crowding in jail on the cheap," June 4), that will sound strikingly familiar to Grits readers:
Levin's view agrees with that of Tyler district judge Cynthia Kent and a host of other criminal justice professionals when he argues that "county jail populations must be scrutinized to determine which offenders can be diverted into less expensive and more rehabilitative settings without threatening public safety. "

Add this op-ed to Levin's recent work advocating for a shift to "restorative justice" principles, expanding drug courts, strengthening the probation system, reversing "overcriminalization," and reducing penalties for low-level drug crimes, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation is articulating a compehensive approach to resolving the overincarceration crisis in Texas criminal justice system.

Levin and TPPF have announced a luncheon and public policy primer titled "Breaking the Addiction" in Austin next week - CrimProf blog has the details. Sign up to attend if you want to learn more. A lot of folks with pre-conceptions about TPPF because of their aggressive advocacy of school vouchers or their association with GOP super-donor Dr. Jim Leininger will need to re-think their views when it comes to finding criminal justice solutions. Levin's earning a reputation for good work on this topic. I like a lot of what he has to say.

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