Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich Agree With ACLU on Something: Criminal Justice Needs a Tweak

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the latest to sign GOP group Right on Crime's Statement of Principles. It's being framed as a conservative approach to reforming the criminal justice system.

Other conservative backers include Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist, and Tony Perkins (president of the anti-gay, anti-choice Family Research Council).

The Texas Public Policy Foundation initiated the Right on Crime campaign. It's based on reforms implemented in Texas that the group claims have reduced crime by 9 percent while saving taxpayers more than $2 billion.

According to the statement, Right on Crime supports "constitutionally limited government, transparency, individual liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise." The goal of the campaign is to "produce the best possible results at the lowest possible costs" while treating crime victims as "'consumers' of the criminal justice system."

All pretty much in line with core conservative principles, right? Read on.

The statement is critical of the criminal justice system's overreliance on prisons, which the statement says will in some cases have "the unintended consequence of hardening non-violent, low-risk offenders." Like drug users?

The American Civil Liberties Union -- a cherished whipping boy for right-wing pundits -- agrees with them.

"The authors of Right on Crime may come to their recommendations from a different place from the ACLU," says Baylor Johnson, an ACLU of Florida spokesperson. "[But] the conclusions they draw are very much in line with reforms for which the ACLU has been advocating for years."

A recent ACLU report says the war on drugs has caused the United States to have the world's highest incarceration rate at an astronomical cost. The report suggests that several states known to be "tough on crime" have moved to decriminalize nonviolent drug offenders, a move that has saved them loads of money.

Both groups want to do away with mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. Rick Scott too.

Right on Crime's statement doesn't mention medical marijuana, but, hey, you can't have everything.

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Kate Bradshaw