Last week, ATR President Grover Norquist and policy manager Jorge Marin explored how Congress is advancing conservative principles in America’s justice system. The following is an excerpt from the article:

[Speaker Ryan] then gets to the heart of the matter, “We overcompensated on some of our laws … ending up hurting their lives and hurting their communities.

“That is why – and I talked with [House Judiciary Committee Chairman] Bob Goodlatte about this last night – we’re going to bring criminal justice reform bills, which are now out of the Judiciary Committee, to the House floor and advance this, because what we’re learning is — what I learned — I didn’t necessarily notice before is, you know, redemption is a beautiful thing. It’s a great thing,” the Speaker stated. “Redemption is what makes this place work — this place being America, society — and we need to honor redemption and we need to make redemption something that is valued in our culture, in our society, and in our laws.

“When a young man comes out of prison — a person who is not a violent criminal, who did something where he really needed addiction counseling; he needed some of other kind of mentoring, maybe faith — that he can actually go back and be a productive member of society, be a good husband, be a good father, make a difference … reach his potential,” he added.

A recently published study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission tells the story of the sorry state of American justice. Roughly half of federal offenders who left prison in 2005 were rearrested within 8 years. This means that even though the United States has the largest imprisoned population in the world, and after our country saw the largest jump in its incarceration in history, the system is not working like it should.

Recidivism rates in the U.S. paint a bleak picture for the future of previously-incarcerated individuals. The National Institute of Justice indicates that within three years of release, 67.8 percent of prisoners were rearrested. This prevents incarcerated individuals from being able to successfully contribute to society.

Norquist and Marin highlight the need for Congressional action although the Senate is currently stalling on the legislation. They note, “Paul Ryan’s leadership on criminal justice reform is yet another example of taking a Right on Crime approach to make America safe again.”