by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Editors at the Washington Examiner explain why they believe President Trump is the right person to lead reform of the criminal justice system.
Momentum is building within the conservative movement for prison reform, momentum punctuated by the Oval Office visit Thursday of rapper Kanye West. A criminal justice reform bill has passed the Republican House, and the Republican Senate is taking it seriously. That’s great. Conservatives should embrace reforms that are good for the country without being soft on crime.
The American prison system is overburdened, costly, and ineffective, with incarceration based on outdated theories on crime and punishment. Trump is right to push for reform that would make communities safer, help rehabilitate those already incarcerated, and work toward more effective policies.
About 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That’s about 860 people per every 100,000 — more than numbers reported for any other country in the world.
The prison population has exploded since 1980 following a wave of tough-on-crime legislation that imposed strict mandatory minimums even for nonviolent offenses which caused the prison population to soar.
Today, it is clear that this approach did not serve the interests of the country. …
… More prisoners plus high recidivism means more taxpayer money and persistent crime. In some states, such as California, incarceration can cost $50,000 per prisoner per year. That’s more than a year at Stanford.
There are better ways to spend that money that will also get better results, including a stronger civil society and a safer country.