The Politics of Criminal Justice
June 25, 2015
In the five years since Marc Levin founded Right on Crime at the conservative Texas Policy Foundation, more than a dozen states have enacted sentencing or other prison reforms. Parallel movements among conservatives and progressives have promoted similar reforms from dramatically different ideological starting-places. Prominent national Republicans have announced changes of heart, and then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would no longer pursue mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug felonies. As the push for criminal justice reform gathered steam at the federal level, it has garnered recent headlines as much for the cross-ideological nature of leadership behind it as for specific reform proposals.
How durable is this right-left partnership against the backdrop of 2016 Presidential politics? The New America and the Brennan Center engage top actors from politics and policy look at what's next for the criminal justice reform movement. This convening included a discussion of the recent Brennan Center publication Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice, a bipartisan collection of essays on criminal justice reform by many of the leading 2016 presidential candidates.
Meet the Panel
Jamelle Bouie, Staff Writer, Slate Magazine
Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer for Slate Magazine where he writes on national politics, history, public policy, and racial inequality. His work has appeared either online or in print at The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, BookForum, the Washington Post, Democracy Journal, and TIME.
Previously, Jamelle was a staff writer at The Daily Beast and The American Prospect. He is a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and attended the University of Virginia, where he graduated with degrees in political and social thought, and government. He is a vocal fan of science fiction comic books, tightly-plotted action films, and heirloom beans.
He also does a little speaking, with talks at colleges, conferences, universities and nonprofits. Previous panels and speaking engagements include the New School, John Jay School of Law, the Center for American Progress, the Brookings Institute, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia. If you’d like to book Jamelle for a panel or a talk, shoot him an email by clicking the link at the top.
Heather Hurlburt, Director, New Models of Policy Change, New America
Heather Hurlburt leads research into how policy advocacy is adapting to be effective in our current environment of intense political polarization, and provides guidance to advocates and funders seeking to navigate politics effectively on behalf of policy solutions.
Previously, she ran the National Security Network, a premier source for internationalist foreign policy messaging and advocacy; held senior positions in the white House and State Department under President Bill Clinton; and worked on Capitol Hill and for the International Crisis Group. She holds degrees from Brown and George Washington Universities.
Inimai Chettiar, Editor, Solutions: American Leaders Speak Out on Criminal Justice
Inimai M. Chettiar is the Director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. The Justice Program seeks to secure our nation’s promise of "equal justice for all" by creating an effective, rational and fair legal system. It proposes and works to enact data-driven policy and legal reforms aimed at two main goals: ending mass incarceration and closing the justice gap for low-income Americans.
With expertise in applying economic analysis to criminal justice, Ms. Chettiar joined the Brennan Center in 2012. She received this training at NYU Law School’s Institute for Policy Integrity, where she led legal and policy initiatives using economic analysis to reform federal criminal justice and public health laws.
Before coming to the Brennan Center, Ms. Chettiar worked at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was a lead architect of their nationwide Initiative to End Mass Incarceration. She also launched their state legislative campaign to reduce mass incarceration. Chettiar has also served as a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Lawrence M. McKenna at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and an elementary school teacher in Quito, Ecuador.
Her work has been featured in New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, NPR, Bloomberg and other outlets. She has published extensive scholarship on economic and fiscal policy and criminal law reform, and is listed in the national directory as a Top Wonk in criminal justice, economic policy, and race and economics. She also has expertise in federal and state advocacy and litigation. In 2014, she was co-chair of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team’s Public Safety Committee.
Ms. Chettiar holds a B.A. cum laude in political science and psychology from Georgetown University and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago School of Law, where she served as Comment Editor of The Law Review. She is a member of the Society for Benefit Cost Analysis and American Correctional Association, and sits on the U.S. Department of Justice Pretrial Justice Task Force and the American Law Institute Model Penal Code Committee.
Marc Levin, Founder and Policy Director, Right on Crime
Marc A. Levin is Right on Crime’s Policy Director, as well as the Director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Based in Austin, Texas, Levin is an attorney and an accomplished author on legal and public policy issues. Levin served as a law clerk to Judge Will Garwood on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Staff Attorney at the Texas Supreme Court. In 1999, he graduated with honors from the University of Texas with a B.A. in Plan II Honors and Government. In 2002, Levin received his J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law. Levin’s articles on law and public policy have been featured in national and international media outlets that regularly turn to him for conservative analysis of states’ criminal justice challenges.