Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has joined the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Crime campaign, a conservative criminal justice reform initiative.
By signing onto Right on Crime’s statement of principles, Perry joins other notable conservatives such as Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and another likely candidate for the Republican nomination in 2016.
Right on Crime and the American Civil Liberties Union recently joined a constellation of conservative groups, as well as the Center for American Progress, to form the Coalition for Public Safety, an umbrella group aiming to reduce prison populations and reform sentencing.
Over the last two years, a growing number of conservative and liberal groups have begun working together to reform the criminal justice system and roll back many of the "tough on crime laws," such as mandatory minimum sentences, that proliferated throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
"During my leadership as governor, Texas shut down three prisons, and we saved taxpayers $2 billion," Perry said in a statement. "When I left office, Texas had the lowest crime rate in our state since 1968. My 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? In Texas, we believe in results."
In 2006, facing a full prison system and a projected growth of 15,000 inmates over the next six years at a cost of $523 million, Texas instead funneled money into treatment and diversion programs and gave prosecutors and judges increased latitude in sentencing. According to the Washington Post, the prison population has dropped, as have violent crime, property crime, and recidivism rates.