Criminal Justice Policy a Hot Topic at CPAC
At the Conservative Political Action Committee, criminal justice reform was a productive topic of discussion. Panelists Marc Levin of Right on Crime, Pat Nolan of the American Conservative Union, Louisiana State Representative Julie Emerson, and Ronald Lampard of ALEC all spoke of the positive ways conservative groups have been leading criminal justice reform efforts. ALEC has been a leader in the criminal justice reform movement “for over 5 years,” said Ronald Lampard. In addition, both Pat Nolan and Marc Levin noted how their organization values their partnership with ALEC, as their relationship has allowed criminal justice reform efforts to move forward.
For over half a decade, ALEC has spearheaded criminal justice reform efforts. Under the leadership of former Texas State Representative Jerry Madden, ALEC members began proposing model policies on criminal justice reform efforts that were ultimately adopted as ALEC model policies. Texas lowered its prison population by 11% from 2009-2014 and simultaneously saw a 24% reduction in crime. Additionally, under former Governor Rick Perry and Madden’s leadership, Texas shut down three prisons and saved taxpayers $2 billion. As demonstrated by Texas, alternatives to incarceration, such as diversion programs or drug-treatment programs, for non-violent and low-risk offenders does not equate to being soft on crime.
Many of these reforms adopted in Texas were adopted as ALEC model policies. These reforms include alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders, juvenile justice reform and asset forfeiture reform. This year alone, Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma are all considering legislation substantially similar to ALEC model policies that address these issues. In fact, Maryland State Senator Michael Hough, the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force Public Sector Chair, supported Maryland’s justice reform efforts last year.
ALEC model policies on criminal justice reform will continue to drive the reform efforts in the states, especially after a very successful 2016. Conversations and relationships with other groups on both sides of the political aisle have proven beneficial in getting meaningful reform passed in the states. ALEC looks forward to educating its legislative members and the public about the benefits of criminal justice reform.