For years, many people have considered juvenile justice reform a dyed-blue plank in the liberal platform. However, deep in the heart of the red state of Texas, one conservative organization has adopted the issue as a major policy concern heading into the 2012 election season.
“The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a free-market, state-based think tank,” said Marc A. Levin, Director of the organization’s Center for Effective Justice. The Austin-based organization [texaspolicy.com], originally founded in 1989, implemented a criminal justice emphasis in 2005.
In 2010, the organization began its Right On Crime campaign, which Levin considers “a national platform for reform.” Several prominent conservative politicians and analysts — among them, Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush and William J. Bennett — have all signed onto the campaign’s statement of principles.
The motto displayed on the Right On Crime website reads “fighting crime, prioritizing victims, and protecting taxpayers,” a creed which Levin reiterated when he said the organization’s primary aspirations are to “promote public safety, and also to do so in a cost-effective manner.” He also said the organization promotes “a focus on rehabilitation of youth and adults,” who he believes can “be put on a path to be productive citizens and positive contributors to our society.”
“Obviously, there have been some conservatives who, historically, have taken a ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ approach,” Levin said. “But crime has been declining in the United States for 17 years in a row.”
Levin said that his organization advocates evidence-based practices and discourages incarceration “when it is not necessary.”
“If you incarcerate someone, it’s almost guaranteed they won’t be paying restitutions,” he continued. “They won’t be paying child support, and they’re obviously not going to earn any income.”