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Michael Haugen | May 9, 2015
Today on MSNBC’s “The Cycle”, the panel interviewed the editor of a new book entitled “Solutions: America’s Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice,” a collection of essays from some of the country’s most visible public figures—both Republican and Democrat—discussing ideas for changes to our sprawling criminal justice system nationwide.
During the panel discussion, Michael Waldman, President of New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, highlighted former Texas Governor and Right on Crime signatory Rick Perry’s leadership in recognizing inefficiencies in Texas’ system, and seeking a path forward for bipartisan reform proposals:
“People started to recognize this in states and you’ve actually had from Texas to California to New Jersey and other places, very different political philosophies, efforts to reduce the prison population,” said Waldman. “I don’t want to make people’s hair stand up here but Rick Perry in Texas has been the leader on this, so it’s one of the reasons there may be an opening where sanity can prevail.”
In addition to the comments made by Waldman, the panel singled out a snippet from Gov. Perry’s essay in the new book, in which he recalls the set of circumstances in America’s recent history regarding criminal justice that has necessitated a different approach today:
“For too long, fear has dictated America’s criminal justice policy,” said Gov. Perry. “Citizens, afraid of the growing violence brought on by the drug wars of the 1980’s, demanded harsher penalties and longer sentences. Politicians, afraid of looking soft on the issue, eagerly obliged, but policy driven solely by fear has failed us.”
During Perry’s tenure as governor of Texas, he oversaw the closure of three prisons and helped lower recidivism rates by 25 percent, which have saved taxpayers significant amounts of money while improving public safety. To wit, Texas has experienced its lowest levels of crime since 1968.
The panel’s full comments can be found below.