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Getting together on prison reform

June 10, 2013
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Richard Viguerie writes a very interesting piece in the New York Times today, entitled “A Conservative Case for Prison Reform.” An excerpt:

But it’s not just the excessive and unwise spending that offends conservative values. Prisons, for example, are harmful to prisoners and their families. Reform is therefore also an issue of compassion. The current system often turns out prisoners who are more harmful to society than when they went in, so prison and re-entry reform are issues of public safety as well.

These three principles — public safety, compassion and controlled government spending — lie at the core of conservative philosophy. Politically speaking, conservatives will have more credibility than liberals in addressing prison reform.

Not to say that those who do not identify as “conservative” and are in the prison reform movement would necessarily agree with everything that Viguerie writes here, which does not yet go into addressing specifically private prisons, ex-felon voting rights and prison gerrymandering. What the article does, however, is that it does set up a conversation about prison reform in which both sides could very well participate.

I would argue, however, that it’s not necessarily about which side has more credibility when discussing the issue, but rather, whether all sides can come to the table and work together on a solution that will be of mutual benefit (and not just political benefit, either).