Why Fewer Prisons Are Good for Texas’s Economy

Post Date: March 11, 2014

(Texas Monthly) — Marc Levin is the director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), the state’s leading conservative think tank. He is also one of the founders of Right on Crime, a national campaign to promote criminal justice reforms in state legislatures across the country. Criminal justice advocacy has traditionally been the province of those on the left side of the political spectrum, but that has changed. Levin’s chief message, that incarcerating too many people for too long for nonviolent crimes isn’t a good use of taxpayer funds, has resonated with conservative voters and legislators. He advocates more effective and less costly measures, such as drug courts, which divert low-level drug offenders to treatment programs instead of prison, and more effective use of probation. Levin (pictured below) and his colleagues, in concert with reform advocates like the ACLU and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, have helped foment a shift in long-held attitudes about criminal justice in the state in recent years. After decades of adding prison beds, Texas has actually closed three adult prison units along with a number of youth lockups since 2011. We recently spoke to Levin at TPPF headquarters, in Austin, where he walked us through the conservative case for criminal justice reform. Read the interview