Pat Nolan knows something about prison – and its problems. A former California legislator who served 29 months in federal custody for racketeering, he experienced first-hand a system desperately in need of reform. Motivated by his stint behind bars, Nolan became an expert on a variety of prison reform issues including rehabilitation, 3-strikes reform, sentencing, recidivism and overcrowding. He also put together Right on Crime, a new national organization of major conservative leaders (including David Keene, Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich) that promotes alternatives to conventional punishment, new approaches to parole violations and rehabilitation through counseling, education and job training. Conservatives who believe in rehabilitation? Yes. The members of Right on Crime reject the status quo, espousing a bi-partisan, comprehensive approach to prison reform. Critics of Nolan’s approach argue that rehabilitation and early release programs put the public at risk and advocate building more prisons. Can restorative justice work to reduce the growing prison population and recidivism? In an era of shrinking state budgets, which reform plan saves taxpayers money?
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