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Published on Oct 1, 2014
Fear of crime and the prison build up
Pat Nolan is the director of the Center for Criminal Justice Reform at the American Conservative Union Foundation. In this interview he gives a conservative perspective on criminal justice reform. Nolan offers a unique take on the Crime Bill because he was a prisoner at the time of its passage. During his sentence he realized that the prison system operated as a bureaucracy that cared little about public safety or the inmates. Since his release, the former legislator has dedicated his work to criminal justice reform. He emphasizes the role of federalism in effective reform, citing the policies of states such as Texas, which saved billions by reducing incarceration and also saw a reduction in the crime rate, that can be adopted nationwide. Nolan argues for increased spending on mental health, drug, and alcohol treatment as opposed to increased incarceration as well as sentencing reform. Such policies receive bipartisan support today, much as the Crime Bill did 20 years ago.
Justice in Focus: Crime Bill @ 20 is an initiative of the Vera Institute of Justice. 20 years ago, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, known today as the Crime Bill, was the largest piece of criminal justice legislation in U.S. history. It was passed with strong bipartisan support in an era when high-profile violent crime gripped the nation. Crime Bill @ 20 intends to start a dialogue to reflect on the impact of the Crime Bill, and to consider the future of criminal justice policy.