Thursday, September 06, 2012

Criminal justice reform and the 2012 GOP platform

The Right on Crime monthly newsletter includes this fascinating commentary about changing attitudes in the Republican party on criminal justice as reflected in the party's platform::
Although the Republican National Convention is over, the GOP's 2012 platform includes some exciting policy shifts for criminal justice reform.

Rejecting a "one size fits all" approach to crime and prisons, the GOP's 2012 platform includes new provisions that emphasize the importance of rehabilitation and re-entry programs to help ex-prisoners integrate back into society. :: Read more about criminal justice reform in the GOP platform here

Also, last week, Marc Levin, Right on Crime's senior policy advisor, was interviewed by the Washington Post about the GOP's changing views on prison reform. In the article, Marc Levin discusses the conservative case for reform and how states can be successful in implementing alternatives that hold nonviolent offenders accountable and reduce re-offending, which the GOP platform now advocates.

The conservative approach is much different from locking everyone up regardless of the nature of the offense and throwing away the key, but it's also different from the mistaken notion that society causes crime, not criminals, which dangerously undermines personal responsibility.

Here, at Right on Crime we have all worked to present the conservative case for reform and are happy to see the GOP platform is advocating for criminal justice reform. :: You can read the article here.
The Washington Post story makes a particularly astute observation about changes in the party platform's approach to the war on drugs:
Four years ago, Republicans devoted a section in their platform to the War on Drugs, lamenting the “human toll of drug addiction and abuse” and vowing to “continue the fight against producers, traffickers, and distributor of illegal substances.”

That plank is conspicuously missing from the GOP platform this year. The fight against illegal drugs is only mentioned in passing, mostly with reference to drug cartels and the ban on using controlled substances for doctor-assisted suicide.
Granted, party platforms mean little when it comes to actual governance and are mostly about throwing ideological bones to the party base. But it's remarkable that a document articulating a vision endorsed by the GOP base has changed its tune on these subjects to such a degree. Just a decade ago I doubt anyone would have predicted it could happen.

A number of other items mentioned in the Right on Crime newsletter merit Grits readers' attention:
New Orleans Seeks to Expand Pretrial Evaluations - September 4
After just a few months of operation, prosecutors and court officials agree: pretrial evaluations of defendants should be expanded in New Orleans. The tool, which uses interviews shortly after arrest to objectively evaluate risk factors (or lack thereof), has been credited with aiding courts in New Orleans with information critical to making smart pretrial detention decisions. Based on an individual defendant's risks and likelihood to reappear, the pretrial evaluation creates a recommendation on bail or detention decisions. :: Read More

Tampa Targets Juvenile First-Timers - August 28
Just six years ago, Hillsborough County and its county seat, Tampa, led the state in the number of juveniles arrested for nonviolent or minor offenses. County commissioners were dismayed by not only the costs this created for their court system, but also for the rap sheets now carried by thousands of juveniles-arrest records can sometimes create obstacles to college education or employment.  
:: Read More

Overcriminalization - Criminalizing the Everyday
Texas Public Policy Foundation - August 23
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has published an interview series on the expanding number of criminal laws in the United States Right on Crime Signatory Ed Meese and Right on Crime staff members, Marc Levin and Vikrant P. Reddy, were all interviewed.  
:: Watch the videos here.


Prison Doc said...

As Chairman Mao said, this is a "great leap forward", or at least a small step in the right direction. The worm may be turning. OK, enough mixed metaphors.

Nevertheless this has to be good news--and it's from the people who brought you tough on crime, law and order, and the war on drugs from way back in the Nixon years.

Party Platforms may not net a lot of results--but they ARE a formal statement of what the party believes and the direction in which the party chooses to go, hence the recent brouhaha about the changes to the Democrat platform in Charlotte.

Thanks Grits for publicizing the work of TPPF and Right on Crime--I'd encourage my fellow Grits readers to follow these on Twitter and"Like" Right on Crime on Facebook.

I think the next Lege session may really be ripe for listening to criminal justice reform, even if gains in this next session are modest. We have got to keep pushing for more restorative justice actions.

CraigO said...

Some rational debate on the disastrous war on drugs is sorely needed in this country.

RSO wife said...

I'm sorry folks, but when you start believing what the politicians tell you, especially in an election year, then this country is even worse off than I thought.

Renowned folk singer, Roger Whittaker once described politicians as being like a bunch of bananas. They are all yellow, they all hang together and there's not a straight one among them.

When the people we elect start behaving like they really want to make the country we live in a better place for everybody and not just a way to feather their own nests, then I'll try not to question the party line.

CraigO said...

@RSO wife

I don't think one has to be naive to be hopeful that this is, if you pardon the pun, a right step in the right direction." A journey of a thousand miles, yada, yada, yada.

That said, I think it critical that you continue to question the party line and I know I continually let my representatives know that people care about rational laws and civil liberties.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

RSO wife, as my father likes to say, "it's better than a sharp stick in the eye." There's no question politicians tell the public what they want to hear. What's notable is that THIS is what they think the public wants to hear; it hasn't always been thus.

Anonymous said...

cost shifting expense from one budget line (jail) to another budget line (alternative programs) solves what?

John C. Key MD said...

Anon 9:39 it can solve a hell of a lot, but if your point is that government is going to screw up anything, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Saving money on prison to turn around and stack up expensive non-prison requirements won't help much. Need system-wide reform.