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Rehabilitation and Redemption are at the heart of the Nolan Center for Justice



The Nolan Center for Justice at the CPAC Foundation works to improve our nation’s criminal justice system.  We help develop policies to improve public safety, ensure both individuals and the government are held accountable, and advance human dignity.  We also look for opportunities to encourage people caught up in the criminal justice system to find rehabilitation…and yes, redemption.  Why are rehabilitation and redemption important?  Because every instance of reoffending means another victim, another court case, and another prison cell.  By reducing recidivism, we are cutting one of the main drivers of the crime rate.  

 

One of the policies we support is providing incentives to encourage prisoners to pursue prison education, mental health treatment, job training, anger management, life skills and other programming that has been shown to reduce recidivism.  For example, President Trump’s First Step Act offered non-violent, low-risk inmates an opportunity to move to home confinement to serve their last year under the control of the Bureau of Prisons, when they took anti-recidivism programming.  And we now know that this system is working. 

 

A recent report by the non-partisan Council on Criminal Justice using Justice Department data found that the recidivism rate for those who earned their way to home confinement before release had a re-arrest rate of 12.4%, compared to an estimated recidivism rate of 19.8% for those released before the First Step Act.  That’s a 37% cut in recidivism!  Similar results were seen in 15 years of data from Texas after Governor Rick Perry (R) increased recidivism reduction programming as part of his justice reinvestment initiative.  Other states have provided incentives for prisoners to do the hard work of self-improvement and seen their re-offense rates drop.  In Michigan, the pending Safer Michigan Act provides “productivity credits,” (modeled after the First Step Act) to allow inmates to shave months off their sentences if they successfully complete proven anti-recidivism programs. 

 

We also support a package of policies called Clean Slate. Clean Slate applies to people who made a mistake and were convicted of low-level, non-violent crimes.  If they stay out of trouble for seven years, they can have their records automatically sealed.  While law enforcement will still have access to the sealed records, the former prisoners will have an easier time finding work, obtaining safe housing, and going back to school. And with such redemption comes reduced recidivism risks. Clean Slate has been passed by Republican legislatures in Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

 

So why should voters and policymakers care about helping prisoners find redemption? Because doing so makes neighborhoods and communities safer, while also reducing the burden of incarceration costs on the taxpayers. It is a win-win.

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