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Op-ed Placement

Get big government out of the courtroom: It’s time for justice reform

03/31/2015
Originally Published in Rare on 3/31/15.

Democrats and Republicans in Washington may continue to swing away at each other over ObamaCare, the budget, and other policy priorities, but an opportunity has emerged to actually get something important done that is long overdue. Criminal justice reform.

Capitol Hill lawmakers don’t have to look hard to find examples of success and states, particularly those with a Republican bent, have taken the lead.

In 2007, Texas, known for its “tough on crime” image, began implementing a comprehensive set of justice reforms for nonviolent offenders, saving taxpayers $2 billion in planned prison construction costs while reducing crime rates and lessening the number of repeat offenders.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who oversaw these reforms, recently explained that his “administration started treatment programs and drug courts for people who wouldn’t be served well by sitting behind bars.”

“We made sure our parole and probation programs were strong, Most of all, we evaluated prisons based on whether they got results. Did an ex-offender get locked up again? Did he get a job? Is he paying restitution to his victims?” he said. “In Texas, we believe in results.”