Sam Brownback on Crime
Republican Sr Senator (KS)
A: We need a culture of life. I have difficulty with the death penalty. This is an individual, though, that has committed a heinous crime. I think we should limit the death penalty to cases only where we cannot protect the society from the individual, such as when Osama bin Laden is caught. We need to be able to use it then. But we should use this very limited and only in that circumstance, in order to talk and to teach a culture of life in America.
A: I pushed the Second Chance Act through the Committee on the Judiciary, and what it’s primarily focused on is to help people if they have been caught and they are in prison, that they not go back again. Because right now in the United States of America, if you go to prison, the chances of you going back are two-thirds, 66 percent. That is a travesty that that number is that high. This bill in five years we cut it in half. A lot of it is faith-based institutions. A lot of it is mentorship and work programs. So we can help people that are chains they can’t break themselves.
As I looked into the history of prison reform, it seemed to me that back in the late 1960s we had some well-intentioned but soft-headed policies on prison reform that had failed miserably. Then the popular idea became to lock them up and throw away the key. The problem was that in most cases these individuals were likely to come out of prison at some point, unskilled, untrained, and angry. For anyone who bothered to pay attention, it was obvious there had to be a better way.
Prison Fellowship found a way. I began working with them: the first [faith-based prison ministry] was operated in Winfield, Kansas, and later moved to Ellsworth, Kansas. The system is modeled on the successful program that Prison Fellowship established in Sugarland, Texas. It had a recidivism rate of less than 10%.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
This amendment reinstates the COPS Program. I remind everyone, when the COPS Program was functioning, violent crime in America reduced 8.5% a year for 7 years in a row. Throughout the 1990s, we funded the COPS Program at roughly $1.2 billion, and it drove down crime. Now crime is rising again. The COPS Program in the crime bill worked, and the Government Accounting Office found a statistical link between the COPS grants and a reduction in crime. The Brookings Institution reported the COPS Program is one of the most cost-effective programs we have ever had in this country. Local officials urgently need this support.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
The COPS Program has some history. It was started by President Clinton. He asked for 100,000 police officers. He said that when we got to 100,000, the program would stop. We got to 110,000 police officers and the program continues on and on and on.
This program should have ended 5 years ago or 6 years ago, but it continues. It is similar to so many Federal programs that get constituencies that go on well past what their original purpose was. It may be well intentioned, but we cannot afford it and we shouldn't continue it. It was never thought it would be continued this long.
CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) is a membership organization of families of prisoners, prisoners, former prisoners and other concerned citizens. CURE's two goals are
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Senate Office SH-303, Washington, DC 20510