Monday, June 22, 2015

Prison Revolt

A former law-and-order conservative takes a lead on criminal-justice reform.

...Criminal-justice reformers like to say that if a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who has served time. Nolan did not emerge from prison any less conservative, but he says he experienced a profound disillusionment, which has led him to play a central role in a cause that is only now finding its moment. These days, it is hard to ignore a rising conservative clamor to rehabilitate the criminal-justice system. Conservatives are as quick as liberals to note that the United States, a country with less than five per cent of the world’s population, houses nearly twenty-five per cent of the world’s prisoners. Some 2.2 million Americans are now incarcerated—about triple the number locked up in the nineteen-eighties, when, in a panic over drugs and urban crime, conservative legislators demanded tougher policies, and liberals who feared being portrayed as weak went along with them. African-Americans are nearly six times as likely as whites to be incarcerated, and Latinos are more than twice as likely. More than forty per cent of released offenders return to prison within three years.


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