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Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn Talks Criminal Justice Reform at AEI

| June 20, 2016

In a keynote address given at the American Enterprise Institute, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, co-sponsor of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, discussed the efforts that many conservative states have taken over the last decade to confront stubbornly high recidivism rates and spiraling corrections costs, and provides context on how lessons learned can inform federal reform.

In particular, Senator Cornyn emphasized that federal legislation would use money and resources saved by diverting lower-risk, low-level offenders away from incarceration towards prioritizing prison space for more serious, violent offenders—a policy similar to those states that have enacted successful justice reinvestment initiatives in recent years. Additionally, current legislation also calls for providing offenders with the opportunity to earn “good time” credit through participation in proven recidivism-reduction programs (excluding those convicted on terrorism or violence charges), and for establishing post-sentencing risk-needs assessments to adequately determine an offender’s potential risk and identify programming needs.

Senator Cornyn’s speech also highlighted the work done by private sector programs—including Texas’ Prison Entrepreneur Program, based primarily out of Houston—that endeavor to reform offenders by equipping them with marketable job skills prior to release, thereby preparing them to lead lives of productivity.

Senator Cornyn’s full remarks can be viewed below:


MICHAEL HAUGEN is a policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and its Right on Crime initiative.

His work for the Foundation has focused primarily on criminal justice reform topics, particularly civil forfeiture, prison reform and justice reinvestment, mens rea reform, occupational licensing, and various law enforcement and privacy issues. He’s also written about federal corporate subsidies, school choice, and gun rights.

Haugen is a graduate of Eastern Washington University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with Pre-Medicine Option, and a minor in Chemistry. He also holds an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies from North Idaho College. At EWU, he participated in academic research in a molecular microbiology laboratory for two years, investigating genetic virulence factors and pathophysiology in microbes.

His writing has appeared in National Review, The Hill, Townhall, Washington Examiner, Dallas Morning News, El Paso Times, Trib Talk, RedState, Ricochet, and Breitbart Texas.