In Original Essays, Political Leaders Call for End to Mass Incarceration

April 28, 2015

With a new essay collection from a bipartisan group of prominent public figures, criminal justice reform has entered the center of American political discourse ahead of the 2016 election.

Released today by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the book offers a first-of-its-kind preview of the range of policy reforms that may be debated throughout the campaign season, with striking consensus around one idea: the need to reduce the American prison population.

Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice, edited by Brennan Center president Michael Waldman and Justice Program director Inimai Chettiar, includes essays by Joseph R. Biden, Cory Booker, Cornell Brooks, Chris Christie, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Cathy L. Lanier, Martin O’Malley Janet Napolitano, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Bryan Stevenson, Scott Walker, James Webb, and more.

Among the highlights:

  • This collection marks the first time many of these leaders have put pen to paper on the issue of criminal justice policy.
     
  • Nearly every contributor identifies the problem as mass incarceration, meaning the sheer volume of people incarcerated, and propose public policy solutions to reduce it.
     
  • Their policy solutions range from releasing low-level offenders waiting for trial to using federal grants to change police practices, from eliminating prison for low-level drug crimes to increasing mental health treatment.

“In this time of increased political polarization,” writes former President Bill Clinton in the foreword, “there is one area where we have a genuine chance at bipartisan cooperation: the over-imprisonment of people who did not commit serious crimes. The drop in violence and crime in America has been an extraordinary national achievement. But plainly, our nation has too many people in prison and for too long – we have overshot the mark.”

“This bipartisan effort marks a remarkable political shift on crime and punishment since the 1980’s and 90’s,” says Inimai Chettiar. “This collection offers a rare chance for the public to assess and compare solutions to one of the country’s most pressing challenges.”

Read the full volume, Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice.

Read the foreword by former President Bill Clinton.

Read individual essays by: Joseph R. Biden, Jr.Cory BookerCornell W. BrooksInimai ChettiarChris ChristieHillary Rodham ClintonTed CruzKamala D. HarrisMike HuckabeeDavid KeeneMark A.R. KleimanCathy L. LanierMarc LevinJanet NapolitanoMartin O’MalleyRand PaulRick PerryMarco RubioBryan StevensonJeremy TravisScott Walker, and James Webb.

Read more about the Brennan Center’s work to reduce mass incarceration.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Naren Daniel at (646) 292-8381 or naren.daniel@nyu.edu.