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Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to Make Conservatives Care About Prison Reform? Lock 'Em Up!

Posted by on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 4:26 PM


Traditionally, prison reform has been a liberal issue, associated with civil rights activists troubled by the extreme racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, and with drug decriminalization advocates who emphasize the high cost of drug prohibition. But without much notice, that picture has begun to change. These days, the right is leading the charge to reduce the U.S. prison population.

According to John Hopkins’s David Dagan and Steve Teles, writing in the Washington Monthly, the change is not primarily due to economic constraints. The change started in the early 2000s, with major conservative-led reforms passing in Texas in 2007, when times were flush, and states weren’t facing draconian budget cuts of the kind they’ve been forced to implement recently.

Why this unusual step for conservatives? Apparently, it's due to "an alliance" between libertarian types who question all state power and Republicans who've been thrown in the clink.

The latter group was brought into the fold because of two activists who served time in prison: Charles Colson, a former Nixon aide convicted for his role in Watergate, and Pat Nolan, a former Republican legislator in California who was put away on corruption charges.

The old truism remains: conservatives tend to be inward-looking (my values, my money, my experience of the world) and progressives tend to be outward-looking (their parody being that they have no spine because they're so concerned with pluralism they can't bring themselves to fight for anything).

But if real, bipartisan prison reform can't move forward without convincing the conservatives (who don't wonder "what's it like to be in prison?" but "what's it like for me to be in prison?") then the solution is clear: Lock 'em up!


Comments (10) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Start with the CEOs and work your way down.

Give time off for ... nothing.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 15, 2012 at 4:30 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 2
Maybe this is the solution to a lot of conservative issues. Make them live on the street for a few weeks. Put them in a domestic violence situation. Let them try out state-funded mental institutions.

The tricky part will be making them feel the experience of being a minority. I'm not sure blackface would have the desired effect.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on November 15, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
Skye Blu 3
oh yes, they will get a double dose of learning- what it's like to be in prison and what being raped feels like. They'll be better for it all around, can we do them all at once?
Posted by Skye Blu on November 15, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
@2 GTL? oh wait they already do tanning.

How about zebra stripe face tattoos?
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 15, 2012 at 4:58 PM · Report this
All well a good but please, it's Johns Hopkins.
Posted by SPRINK on November 15, 2012 at 5:36 PM · Report this
Its a reverse of the old adage:

A liberal is a conservative whose been to jail.

(old adage being a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.)

Posted by simonshama on November 15, 2012 at 6:19 PM · Report this
singing cynic 7
Doesn't always work that way. There are plenty of closeted gay republican politicians who crusade against gay rights in between public-bathroom-blowjobs, and pro-life republican politicians who crusade for "traditional families" in between forcing their mistress to get an abortion and covering up his wife's abortion.
Posted by singing cynic on November 15, 2012 at 6:51 PM · Report this
bradpwa 8
No one has been more supportive of our state's prison industrial complex than our own Governor Gregoire. Her need to appear "tough" has resulted in an awful record of abuse and racial intolerance.
Posted by bradpwa on November 15, 2012 at 7:59 PM · Report this
Hang 'em high
Posted by fotoeve on November 16, 2012 at 2:56 AM · Report this
Wasn't Martha Stewart supposed to be a women's prison reform advocate after she was released? Haven't heard much on that since!
Posted by DannyG on November 16, 2012 at 10:54 AM · Report this

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