From The Atlantic:

“Every single state is going to go through a financial crisis,” says Arthur Rizer, the director of Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties at the R Street Institute, a center-right think tank. “Where are they going to cut their money? It’s not going to be from Main Street. It’s definitely not going to be Wall Street. It’s going to be from the services that provide the types of things that these people need to come back to the fold.”

That question—what if it backfires?—keeps prison-reform advocates like Arthur Rizer at the R Street Institute staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night. “I already feel it in my bones—the next wave of the Willie Horton ads,” Rizer says. In 1986, Horton, who had been convicted of murder, was allowed a weekend out of prison as part of a Massachusetts furlough program. He fled, raped a woman, and knifed her fiancé, before being captured. Aside from sinking the presidential hopes of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in 1988, the Horton fiasco prompted furlough programs to be canceled across the country. “So what happens when one person is a COVID release and then they commit a brutal, horrible crime?” Rizer asks. “You’re going to have people run, run their campaigns on: We need to put more people in prison.”

But what if this radical idea works? What if Angelo Robinson builds a career, has a family, pays taxes? The man who once committed a homicide now works as a machinist at Meyer Tool. He’s been promoted after less than a year, and the company is paying his tuition at Cincinnati State, where he’s earning a software-engineering degree. At night, Robinson works construction, remodeling houses. He sees his daughter every week, and he’s saved enough money to get a mortgage and start looking for a home to buy. “I’m ecstatic,” he told me. “When I wake up in the morning, I say to myself, It’s a new life for me.”

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