On Thursday, Americans for Tax Reform’s Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Jorge Marin spoke with InsideSources about the growing momentum on the right for criminal justice Reform.
When asked why he thought criminal justice reform was gaining traction, Marin stated that “Whether you’re a fiscal conservative, whether you care about public safety, whether you care about civil liberties, there’s something there for you,” recognizing the spate of new legislation being considered in the state and federal governments. “In a sense, we opened up a new frontier in the fight against an overreaching government,” he added.
Marin echoed Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), noting the merits of Texas’s efforts to reduce recidivism and crime. In 2007, Texas spent $240 million to reform its system. Since then, it closed 3 prisons and saved an estimated $3 billion with reforms to lower the prison population and increase public safety. Texas crime fell to the lowest since 1968, and it reduced its prison population more than 20 percent.
Cornyn spoke today at the American Enterprise Institute about the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) which seeks to overhaul the current federal justice reform system that causes mass incarceration and harmful recidivism rates. SRCA implements programs focused on reducing recidivism rates and helping people find the proper treatment needed to rehabilitate and reform themselves to be successful members of society. It also reduces mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders.
“I respect Tom Cotton on a lot of his policies,” Marin stated in the interview, “I respect him on a lot of his tax policies. But I think, on this issue, we do differ… He’s following the same failed policies of the past.”
Last month, Cotton took an aggressive stance against current criminal justice reform legislation passing through the Senate that ATR supports. He declared that the United States has an “under-incarceration” problem rather than over-incarceration.
Despite Cotton’s opposition, criminal justice reform coalitions remain strong. ATR partners with seven other groups on the issue under leadership of the U.S. Justice Action Network. The bi-partisan, extremely diverse group of coalition partners include Freedom Works, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for American Progress, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Right on Crime, and the NAACP.
Serious reform needs to be passed through Congress to improve our federal prisons and corrections processes. The data proves that too many people are being harmed, and the U.S. does not have the federal funding necessary to sustain these high levels of incarceration over time. Therefore, reducing unnecessary punishments for nonviolent offenders and increasing programs to help prisoners improve themselves is proven to reduce costs and enhance communities over time.