By Wende Marshall
Al Jazeera English
January 22, 2013
In a 2011 opinion piece in the Washington Post, Newt Gingrich said, “There is an urgent need to address the astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential…The criminal justice system is broken, and conservatives must lead the way in fixing it.” An advocacy group called Right on Crime is spearheading Republican efforts to “demand more cost effective approaches that enhance public safety.” Signatories to its statement of principles include, in addition to Gingrich, other notable Republicans like Jeb Bush and Grover Norquist. A recent Washington Monthly article celebrated the right’s new focus on crime claiming it would “put the nation on a path to a more rational and humane correctional system.”
But by focusing on achieving “a cost effective middle ground,” Republican reform strategies end up eschewing the relevance of social justice and largely ignoring racial disparities and the disruptive social costs created by mass incarceration.