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Issue Analysis

Red State Redemption: Ten Conservative States That Have Led the Way on Justice Reform

In the early 2000's, many of the states which had enacted the harshest mandatory sentences and "tough on crime" laws were also facing budget crises and desperately overcrowded prisons. In response, lawmakers in state like Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina started to reexamine the entire purpose of their criminal justice systems, and even became leaders in the national push for criminal justice reform.

Every state's criminal justice system is a bit different, and their attempt to reform them have differed as well. Each of them has more work to do, as well. Many of the states which have passed the most ambitious reforms have seen their corrections budgets, incarceration rates, and crime rates all decline at the same time, providing an example for others to follow.

This overview of ten of the traditionally conservative states which have enacted significant criminal justice reforms should hopefully provide a sense of what reforms are working, and where there is still urgent work to be done.

You can read the whole report, or download it as a .pdf, below.

Red State Redemption by Joshua Withrow on Scribd