Right On Crime Hosts Two Panels at TPPF Texas Policy Summit

Recently, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) hosted its annual Texas Policy Summit in Austin, TX. This conference brought together the most influential leaders in Texas and from across the nation. Experts, legislators, and community leaders gathered in conversations and debates focusing on conservative policies and programs, including panels which featured Right On Crime, a national conservative criminal justice campaign, and Brett Tolman, Executive Director of Right On Crime and a former U.S. Attorney.

Discussions centered on creating safer communities through conservative criminal justice reform and how the abuse of power by the FBI and Department of Justice has weaponized our nation’s criminal justice system. Both panels made clear that the answer to our nation’s problems with crime and runaway federal government lies within conservative solutions.

The panel titled “Creating Safer Communities: Conservative Criminal Justice Solutions” brought together voices advocating for innovative strategies to tackle crime while promoting fairness and accountability. Led by Brett Tolman, Executive Director of TPPF’s Right On Crime, the panel featured Texas Representative Jeff Leach (TX-67), Texas Sheriff Bill Waybourn of Tarrant County, and Josh Smith, Founder and CEO of Fourth Purpose Foundation.

Tolman emphasized the urgent need to address shortcomings in the criminal justice system, highlighting the U.S. national recidivism rate of 45%. He pointed out that without meaningful reform, the system continues to rely on incarceration alone, rather than focusing on potential rehabilitation.

Rep. Leach echoed this, emphasizing the importance of bold conservative leadership in enacting practical solutions. He emphasized that effective criminal justice policies can be both tough on crime and right on crime, rejecting the sentiment that these are merely “hug a thug” polices, but rather provide the balance between appropriate punitive measures, rehabilitation efforts and fiscal responsibility.

Sheriff Waybourn provided valuable insights from his 40 years of law enforcement experience, focusing on reducing recidivism through innovative programs that prioritize reintegration and support for individuals prior to exiting the justice system. He highlighted the success of initiatives like his own re-entry programs, which not only benefit individuals but also contribute to public safety and reduce taxpayer burden. In his jail, the recidivism rate sits at 7%, much lower than the national average in the mid-70s. Waybourn also noted that these programs come at no added cost to the taxpayer as individuals pay for these opportunities using their commissary funds.

Smith brought a unique perspective, drawing from his own journey through the juvenile justice system to advocate for transformative approaches to incarceration. Although now a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, in his early 20’s, Smith spent five years in federal prison. At the time of his incarceration, several high-level professionals were also incarcerated for various acts of white-collar crime. These professional, educated men introduced Josh to a world he had not known, and he also established a relationship with God like he did not know could exist.

Smith also emphasized the importance of investing in rehabilitation and providing opportunities for individuals to rebuild their lives after incarceration. Smith’s Fourth Purpose Foundation exemplifies the potential for leveraging personal experiences to drive systemic change by making prison a place for transformation. Fourth Purpose creates a positive impact on prison systems across the country through resources, education, and support around correction staff members, inmates, and the greater community.

The Texas Policy Summit also featured a panel which addressed the politicization of justice and the need to hold prosecutors accountable for abuses of power. The discussion on “Abuse of Power: The FBI and the Weaponization of Justice” featured insights from The Honorable Jason Chaffetz, Brett Tolman, and The Honorable Robert Henneke on the view of our nation’s crime problems from the federal lens.

Tolman and Chaffetz highlighted numerous instances of bias and selective prosecution within federal law enforcement agencies, emphasizing the lack of trust and the need for fundamental structural changes to restore fairness and justice. They called for greater scrutiny and accountability, urging state prosecutors and attorneys general to push back against abuses of power at the federal level.

Chaffetz, a former Congressman and former Chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, and Tolman, a former US Attorney, contrasted the judicial coddling received by political figures like Hilary Clinton, Devon Archer, and Hunter Biden versus the harshness that individuals like Peter Navarro and former President Donald Trump faced all because they were members of the opposing political party. Both also noted the extreme measures the federal government has taken to overstep the laws of our country to surveil unsuspecting citizens and use their own data against them, even selling it to foreign countries. This panel makes clear that reforms are necessary at all levels of government in our country to restore the notions of law and order to our democracy.

Both panel discussions underscored the pivotal role of conservative leadership in driving meaningful reform and restoring integrity to the criminal justice system. By embracing evidence-based policies and advocating for accountability, conservatives are championing change that prioritizes public safety and fairness through bipartisan collaboration. This is about doing the right thing because truth and justice should be nonpartisan.