AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice Deputy Director Derek M. Cohen, and Angela J. Thielo, Francis T. Cullen, Cecilia Chouhy, co-authored the academic article “Rehabilitation in a Red State: Public Support for Correction Reform in Texas” published in the Criminology & Public Policy journal.
“Texas is rightly a ‘tough on crime’ state, but this shorthand fails to capture the plural preferences of even the most conservative Texas voter,” said Cohen. “Texans want wrong-doers punished, but they are also categorically supportive of non-incarceration punishments that treat the underlying problem and allow the offender to eventually rejoin society in full as a productive citizen. Conservatives have recognized the merits of rehabilitation-oriented criminal justice reform in Texas for over a decade now and have elevated the state to a leader in the field. Certainly some policy work remains to be done, but this article illustrates how state leadership has responded to the will of their constituents, and now the state is better off for it.”
The article abstract states:
With the growth of mass imprisonment arguably at its end, the existence of strong public support for correctional reform even in the major red state of Texas, suggests that a new “sensibility” about crime control has taken hold. There is now an emergent national consensus that the overuse of incarceration is unsustainable and that low-risk offenders no longer should be sanctioned with a prison sentence. The American public, in Texas and beyond, is willing to support a policy agenda that includes offender treatment, prison downsizing, and alternatives to incarceration. The challenge for elected officials is to take advantage of this ideological space and to pursue this agenda. Notably, politicians in Texas and in other red states are using this opportunity to implement correctional policy reforms. The data in this study indicate that they will face no public backlash and, if anything, will gain political capital for their efforts.
The article is available in its entirety here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1745-9133.12182/abstract (Subscription only)
To schedule an interview with Mr. Cohen, please contact Caroline Espinosa at [email protected] or 512-472-2700.
Derek M. Cohen is deputy director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin, Texas.