Conservatives Try To Make Criminal Justice Reform A Signature Issue

By Wesley Lowery in The Washington Post

Tex. Gov. Rick Perry, left, makes a remark as Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform listens during a panel discussion on “Criminal Justice Reform” at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

Many of the headlines after day two of the Conservative Political Action Conference were about Rick Perry’s well-received speech, in which he harped on what he deemed the “two Americas”: red-state America and blue-state America.

But as much as the Texas governor’s morning address impressed the crowd, it was the second event in which he participated Friday that will be far more important if the Republican Party is serious about winning more swing voters in 2016.

Perry appeared alongside several other conservatives, including Grover Norquist, on a panel about criminal justice reform and how those reforms are being pushed by several Republican states.

While it was sandwiched between better-attended sessions, the discussion of Republican progress on reforming the criminal justice system was one of the few CPAC sessions that laid out a true pathway forward for a party that desperately wants to expand demographically.

Much of the Democrats’ successful messaging in recent years has painted Republicans as obstructionist. Democrats have ­noted the repeated attempts by congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and each week House Democrats rail against the Republican leadership’s refusal to allow votes on immigration reform and raising the minimum wage.

And much of the CPAC lineup consisted of panels that will likely be fodder for that type of Democratic messaging (for example, “Obama’s IRS: Political Arm of the Left?”).

But on issues of sentencing reform and prison recidivism, Republicans — especially several governors in Southern states — have been the leaders, earning praise from prison reform groups.

Why is the Republican party so interested in criminal justice reform?  The Texas Governor Rich Perry puts on a show for CPAC using full words, a strong attitude, and new geek eye wear.   He uses the red state – blue state approach to economics.   He talks about comparing the state of Texas with New York City while ignoring the rest of the nation.   Maybe I am missing the message.  No matter where we have lived, we did not want our state to look like Texas or to look like one large city in the state of  New York.   Both are uniquely different but politics should be local.    With as much trouble as the GOP is having with corruption in its own party, do we want them in charge of criminal justice reform?

Watch Gov. Perry at CPAC –  Read more at The Washington Post

Categories: Economic policy, Economic rights, Economics, Education, Free speech, Human rights, Politics, Social policy

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5 replies

  1. Thirty years ago the general public would have to dig very deeply to find out if their news is reliable and accurate. Now all we need to is a bit of quick research to discover if we’re being played. The same goes with the political arena. If a politician is doing something shady it isn’t long before they are called out. Our criminal justice system needs reforming yet not by those will horrific track records for showing little compassion for the human condition. Rick Perry has displayed some of the most unconscionable acts of disregard for others so his judgement in my opinion is not one I’d trust.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello, Jewel. I vaguely remember this last CPAC convention. Basically, a bunch of rich donors to the Republican Party gather to go over their talking points and write big checks.

      This is sad stuff. This is the best they can do. Red state-blue state? Really, Rick? Texas ranks 21st among states in per capita income in the United States–New York ranks fourth, and most of the rest of the top twenty are blue states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And Texas has more citizens without health insurance than any other state, according to a Gallup poll taken in 2011:

      Texas continues to be the state with the highest percentage of residents without health insurance. At 27.6%, its rate is more than four percentage points higher than the next highest state, Mississippi. This is the largest gap Gallup has measured between the first and second state since it began tracking health insurance in 2008.

      During the last presidential election campaign, as I’m sure you’ll remember, Rick Perry’s Texas was lauded by Republicans as a model of sensible Republican fiscal management. Never mind that he used billions in Federal bailout funds to balance his state budgets, even while bashing Obama over federal stimulus spending:

      But the reality of Perry’s relationship with fed-stim is complicated. Through the second quarter of this year, Texas has used $17.4 billion in federal stimulus money — including $8 billion of the one-time dollars to fund state expenses that recur over and over. In fact, Texas used the federal stimulus to balance its last two budgets.

      Source: The Texas Tribune.

      Because Republicans have no earthly idea how to grow an economy, they are desperate to slash spending whenever and wherever they can, except for rich people, because the very, very wealthy are, after all, the minority interest they represent.

      America incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than Putin’s Russia or Communist China, and those countries put people in prison just for making the government mad by saying unpopular things. And Texas, by the way, executes more people than Saudi Arabia.

      Republican governors have discovered that, in the long run, it might actually be cheaper to spend money on things like education than on incarcerating people. Republicans have had a sudden revelation: after decades of pushing for harder and stiffer sentencing laws, that maybe it doesn’t really make all that much sense to put every kid convicted of a minor drug offense into prison for decades.

      So, yeah, Republicans have an idea. They are the party of bold new thinking. Trouble is that its progressive thinking from the 1930s.

      Liked by 2 people

      • There are those that believe they own the entire country and can do as they please. Unfortunately, building a sound economy is not even on their list. Building a citizenship that is hampered and hobbled by laws and regulations while a select few are given free reign is more like the ideal set up.

        The amount of corruption we’ve observed must be curbed. Those that exist upon criminal and illegal acts cannot decide our future as a country. Arresting citizens simply due to their economical level, color, religion or country of origin is in my opinion a criminal act. The privatization of prisons is heinous, used only for the profit of some while incarcerating those that have basically done nothing more than a misdemeanor not a crime that fits the prison environment. The judicial system allows the wealthy to walk away from their criminal acts and no one seems to be outraged by this.

        We’ve a lot to do as private citizens to weed out those that have no conscious for what is fair and balanced and only see where they might profit from their shenanigans. I know we can and will do this, yet, at times it appears quite overwhelming.

        Thanks for this article. It is one I hadn’t come across. It basically repeats everything I’ve read prior to it however so we must have hit on something factual.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Welcome Jewel; We lock up more citizens than any other nation on this planet and the talk about privatization will not solve the problem. It will ensure more of our citizens will be locked up using our tax revenue. It will just allow a few individuals to get wealthy without having any over sight.

          Liked by 1 person

        • It’s fun to review the talking points, because as long as Republicans keep repeating the same old discredited arguments we’ll need to keep beating ’em up with the facts.

          No, the impetus behind the sudden religious conversion of Republican governors like Perry is the fact that the fastest growing part of many state budgets is corrections. That’s what you get when you privatize traditional governmental functions and introduce the profit motive. That’s the irony here: It was the conservative agenda of the 1980s and 90s that created the current state financial crises.

          Liked by 1 person

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