“Conservatives are uniquely situated to be in the lead” on criminal justice reform “because a lot of the public doesn't trust the left on criminal justice,” Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation tells Texas Monthly. Some liberals believe “society is the primary cause of crime rather than individuals. I think, as conservatives, we basically reject that,” he says. In essence, “There are people that can't be reformed, but the vast majority of people in the criminal justice system can change. Ultimately, even among those who go to prison, almost 99 percent are released at some point, and they live next to you and me,” Levin says.
The conservative view has prevailed in some key states like Texas, and now it has “even started to seep into Congress,” Levin says, citing support by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for a pending bill that would reduce federal mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases. Summing up current criminal justice thinking, Levin says, “We're in the middle of a transformation. People are demanding a system that's more effective and saying, you know, we don't want to just punish for the sake of it. We want to get results for public safety. We want to see people in the work force, paying child support and paying restitution to victims, and really being able to reintegrate effectively into society.”