Sen. Cotton would have us believe that all criminals are incorrigible and efforts to reduce incarceration are folly. This is nonsense. His pessimism about the potential for prisoner rehabilitation ignores the realities of reform.

Texas simultaneously closed prisons and decreased its crime rate faster than the national average; reducing incarceration can go hand in hand with increased public safety. Likewise, “smart on crime” policies instituted over the last decade have actually lowered the percentage of people who return to prison within three years of release from 48% of those released in 2005 to 37% in 2012. Not only is no one predestined to return to a life of crime, but these new strategies are helping keep them on the straight and narrow.

Lars Trautman


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