Prominent conservatives take up the call of criminal justice reform

BY Jon Mosher on Friday, January 7, 2011 at 12:00 AM

“The criminal justice system is broken, and conservatives must lead the way in fixing it,” wrote former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in a January 7, 2011 Washington Post Op-Ed on behalf of other prominent conservatives making up the Right on Crime Campaign. Given the economic landscape of most states, Gingrich argues that there is an urgent need to address the “astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential.”  Knowing that “there are more humane, effective alternatives,” the Right on Crime Campaign demands that “it is time to fundamentally rethink how we treat and rehabilitate our prisoners.” 

This is a perfect opportunity to form partnerships with the right to address the long-standing, chronic deficiencies in the delivery of the right to counsel.  Prudent use of taxpayer dollars requires that state policy-makers reduce the need for public defense attorneys by removing non-violent, low level felonies and misdemeanors from the formal justice system through diversion, mediation and/or reclassification of crimes to infractions where it is safe, reasonable and prudent to do so.