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On Wednesday, May 18 FreedomWorks Director of Communications Jason Pye traveled to Columbus, Ohio to be part of a panel for the Fair Sentencing and Fair Chances National Tour by the Coalition for Public Safety. The panel was co-hosted by the Buckeye Institute and focused on a bipartisan push for justice reform.
Aims of the Coalition include lowering incarceration and recidivism rates, decreasing barriers to reentering society after serving time, and cutting spending. These goals are intertwined in that fewers barriers to reentry lead to a lower recidivism rate, and lower incarceration and recidivism rates mean less taxpayer money spent in the justice system.
“We’re seeing a lot of red states move on this, and we’re hoping more will follow,” Pye confidently commented, pointing specifically to successful reforms in Texas and Georgia where incarceration, recidivism, and crime rates are all down.
Michael Brickner of the ACLU of Ohio hoped that his own state might follow soon. We are “spending way too much money on our prison system just to lock people in [prison],” Brickner explained, it is “costing taxpayers” and “ruining lives.”
Brickner noted high numbers of people simply sitting in jail and waiting for their trials because they can’t make bail. That means a lot of wasteful spending.
Michael Hough, a Republican state senator in Maryland and senior policy advisor at the Faith and Freedom Coalition, turned the discussion toward the federal justice system. While states like Texas and Georgia have been forced to reform their programs with many others soon to do the same as they face budget deficits, the federal government doesn’t worry about balancing the budget.
Hough lamented that the federal government can just keep printing money. However, while the federal government doesn’t place importance on curtailing inflation or keeping a balanced budget, taxpayers are painfully aware that we can’t actually afford this level of spending.
Reforms such as those which have proven successful in red states and which activists are working hard for in Ohio and around the country can create important change at the state level. FreedomWorks is also currently supporting bills in the House and the Senate that could bring criminal justice and civil asset forfeiture reforms to the national level.