On March 26, 2015 the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform was held in Washington DC. The Summit was a triumph of cooperation and collaboration between groups of all stripes. Attendees and speakers ranged from the state governors, law enforcement personnel, researchers, and activists. The mission, however, was the same, promoting liberty and justice for all.
Van Jones and Right on Crime signatory and former Speaker Newt Gingrich opened the day with remarks on the bipartisanship shown and the changes that have been wrought in the last few years. Gingrich stated:
“They [Chuck Colson and Pat Nolan] led to the organization of a movement called Right on Crime, which has been consistently trying to think through how we can have a better system, a more humane system, and one which doesn’t grow criminals, but instead helps people come back and become full productive citizens in our communities.”
A central theme in the Summit was the leadership of states in the arena of criminal justice reform. Research Adam Gelb remarked that “States have led the way, showing what we can accomplish when we ask, ‘How can we actually reduce crime?’ instead of just ‘How can we look tough on crime?’.” Georgia Republican Governor Nathan remarked on the trend of federal mandates and said that he was proud to participate in a reversal, in which states provided a model for the federal government instead.
Many individuals also remarked on how they became interested in the topic, some through personal experiences, and others through request. However, an idea that many cited, was religious motivation. Wayne Hughes Jr. stated that “I came to the issue [of criminal justice reform] through my faith.” Tim Head, the executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition stated that their organization believed that they could work in the area to “restore a level of trust in the entire governmental system that has really eroded.”
The Summit helped express a movement that has grown across states nationally. A movement toward greater public safety, efficiency, and justice in the country, and in communities.
Watch the full Summit here.