The conservative approach to criminal justice:
fighting crime, supporting victims, and protecting taxpayers.

Author Steven Teles Discusses Genesis of Conservative Justice Reform Efforts on ‘The Federalist Radio Hour’

| July 12, 2016

In this edition of the ‘The Federalist Radio Hour,’ senior writer Mary Katherine Ham interviews Steven Teles, associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and author of Prison Break: How Conservatives Turned Against Mass Incarceration, about how conservatives began questioning the “tough on crime” mantra that had come to define the movement for previous generations, in favor of casting a more critical eye towards the inefficiency and poor outcomes of America’s corrections systems.

Part of the discussion revolved around major players involved in cultivating a paradigm shift among policymakers surrounding crime and incarceration—at both the state and federal levels. Teles describes the significant efforts of early Right on Crime signatory Chuck Colson in providing a strong evangelical justification for engaging in justice reform following his incarceration as part of the Watergate incident. He also highlights the work of former California legislator Pat Nolan, who has been instrumental in forging relationships among influential national stakeholders, who have proved well-positioned to spread a reform message to much of the country.

Teles also explains the environment in Texas that lead then-House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden—now a Right on Crime senior fellow—to begin curbing the state’s expected growth in prison population, instead investing in an expansion of alternatives to incarceration, such as drug courts and improved probation and parole practices. The reforms advanced by Madden, the Texas Public Policy Foundation—who, through the work of Marc Levin, realized the opportunity such reforms could present for Texas and conservative thought nationwide—and others in 2007 helped Texas save or defer at least $2 billion dollars, and has emboldened other conservative red states to examine their own corrections systems for substantial reform.

Mary Katherine Ham’s full interview with Teles can be found 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.