April 23, 2018

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Members of the United States House Judiciary Committee:

As conservatives, we firmly believe in limited, effective government.  It is paramount to ensure that the scope of government does not grow so large as to stifle human flourishing.  No matter if the issue is onerous regulations that smother small businesses or federal mandates on education, the state’s one-size-fits-all approach constantly fails to improve matters and often makes them worse.

We recognize that this phenomenon is not limited to areas where the government doesn’t belong, such as private industry.  It is also present where the government has a compelling interest.  Perhaps the most noticeable government failure in a legitimate public arena is in the area of public safety.

For decades, we have sought to protect our communities using what we assumed was the best tool at hand: incarceration. Unfortunately, we have never asked ourselves what the end goal should be. Yes, people who commit dangerous crimes must be removed from our communities. However, we failed to consider what we were doing – both inside and outside our prisons – to ensure that those incarcerated ultimately become productive members of society.

As such, we were buoyed last month when the White House issued its Principles of Prison Reform and Reentry.  Therein, President Trump outlined seven key tenets of conservative reentry policy, such as a focus on public safety outcomes, the use of proven successful policies, and incentivizing offenders to seek their own redemption rather than simply “waiting out their time.”  Each principle has proven to be effective in states like Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina where conservative criminal justice polices have been implemented. It is time to take these lessons on prison reform and apply them to the federal system.

There is currently legislation before the House Judiciary Committee that would codify several of the White House’s principles.  We encourage this committee to take up this legislation, strengthen it to accomplish each of these principles, and send it to the House Floor where it will surely draw a warm reception from those representing us and others in the Conservative Movement.

We commend the House Judiciary Committee and its leaders for taking up this critical issue, which will lead to both safer streets and second chances.


Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House of Representative

Edwin Meese, Former Attorney General of the United States

Robert Ehrlich, Former Governor of Maryland

Mike Huckabee, Former Governor of Arkansas

Jim DeMint, Former United States Senator

Penny Nance, Concerned Women for American

J.C. Watts, Former Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Bob Barr, Former Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Ken Blackwell, Former Secretary of State (Ohio)

Ken Cuccinelli, Former Attorney General (Virginia)

Bernie Kerik, Former New York Police Commissioner

Jerry Madden, Former Chairman, Texas House Committee on Corrections

Brooke Rollins, Texas Public Policy Foundation

David Barton, Wallbuilders

Gary Bauer, American Values

Brent Bozell, Media Research Center

Brent Gardner, Americans for Prosperity

Adam Brandon, Freedom Works

Deborah J. Daniels, Partner, Krieg DeVault LLP

Craig DeRoche, Prison Fellowship

Donald Devine, The Fund for American Studies

Mark Earley, Former Attorney General (Virginia)

Daniel Garza, The Libre Initiative

Rebecca Hagelin, Council for National Policy

Mark Holden, Freedom Partners

David Keene, Editor-at-Large, The Washington Times

Eli Lehrer, R Street Institute

Lisa Nelson, American Legislative Exchange Council

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform

Star Parker, Coalition for Urban Renewal & Education

Ralph Reed, Faith & Freedom Coalition

Richard Viguerie, American Target Advertising

Robert Woodson, Woodson Center/National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

David Barnes, Generation Opportunity