CAPITOL HILL BRIEFING EXPLORES CRIMINAL JUSTICE BUDGET CUTS

Prominent National Conservatives Join FAMM in Proposing Cost-Effective Alternatives to Incarceration-Focused Federal Policies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     
April 14, 2011
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel, (202) 822-6700 or media@famm.org               

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) hosted a panel briefing on Capitol Hill today to discuss cost-effective alternatives to wasteful, federal criminal justice policies. The event took place against the backdrop of a heated debate over how to reduce the nation’s mounting debt.

Four prominent national conservatives spoke out in favor of finding smarter, less expensive ways to control crime and rehabilitate offenders at the federal level. The panelists were: Asa Hutchinson, former U.S. Attorney, member of Congress from Arkansas, DEA Administrator under President George W. Bush and then Undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; and Tim Lynch, director of Cato Institute’s Criminal Justice Project. Pat Nolan, president of the Justice Fellowship and a former California state representative, was unable to attend but sent remarks.

“We cannot pretend to have a “grown up” discussion about our nation’s budget problems without discussing the wasteful spending that goes on in the name of keeping us safe,” said FAMM President Julie Stewart who served as the panel’s moderator. “We know so much more than we did even 20 years ago about what works and what doesn’t in controlling crime. We know punishment and even prisons are part of the solution, but they no longer should be the first, second, and third option.”

Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), stopped by the briefing and thanked FAMM for building support for reform with Democrats and Republicans. "We have the number one incarceration rate in the world. We can reduce crime or we can play politics,” said Rep. Scott.

Asa Hutchinson was the first speaker and said, “I have been a tough on crime conservative. I don't shy away from the mantle. As conservatives we must remain true and faithful to taxpayers’ dollars. We should be open to change to save money, but more importantly to make a fairer system.”  Hutchinson also told the panel that Congress "should look at retroactivity for" crack law because not fair to get caught one day before the newer, fairer system took effect.

Tim Lynch from Cato Lynch recommended a moratorium on new federal prisons and no mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders. “We need a cost benefit analysis and scrutiny about what's really working,” said Lynch.

Grover Norquist summed up the arguments. “We’re are finally looking at criminal justice and saying, this is getting expensive and it's not clear that it's working. Now conservatives are giving political cover to lawmakers to make these changes,” said Norquist.

“I believe the support of conservatives is crucial to achieving significant sentencing reform. Just as it took Nixon to go to China, it will take conservatives to help us restore balance to our criminal justice system. That is not a slap at the progressives who have championed this cause so passionately and for so long. It’s just political reality,” concluded Stewart.

FAMM is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety.  For more information on FAMM, visit www.famm.org or contact Monica Pratt Raffanel at media@famm.org .

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FAMM is a national, nonprofit organization working for fair and proportionate sentencing laws.

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