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Will Ruger:Good evening and thank you for attending. I promise this to be a compelling event. I'm Will Ruger, the Vice President for Research and Policy at the Charles Koch Institute and a former resident of Wimberley, Texas. Thats right. [Chuckles] We're excited about tonights program. Criminal justice reform is an important issue that affects the well-being of so many people, and we're honored to have an impressive line up of panelists to speak about it. Many people aren't aware yet that CKI has embarked on a well-being initiative that seeks to improve our quality of life through research and dialogue. Tonights event is part of that initiative and we hope that it will help advance solutions to a problem that many states including Texas. Before we begin, let me start by asking, how many of you would consider yourselves to be law-abiding citizens? I hope everyone. [Laughter] Will Ruger:Well, most of us think we follow the law but it might surprise you to know that it is very likely you have done something illegal even if you did realize it. This is in part due to the incredible expansion of the US Criminal Code. In fact, there are over 4500 federal criminal laws and 30,000 federal criminal regulations that are on the books. Many of these laws are written so that you do not have to knowingly and willfully commit the wrongful act. If you just commit an act, then you leave yourself open to criminal prosecution, conviction and imprisonment. This doesnt even count state laws. Texas unfortunately is no stranger to the problem. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which by the way does such great work on this and other areas, I would miss if I didn't say that, but according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, alone has more than 1700 criminal laws including 11, 11 felonies related to oyster harvesting alone. Unbelievable, right? And again, that's felonies. Now, the impact of a criminal conviction on the individuals well-being, even if it's just a minor offense, is immense especially given the problem of extreme sentencing. A lifelong penalty to those with a record, includes time spent in jail rather than on something rehabilitative or productive, limited job opportunities, and fractures to their support networks whether it's family, coworkers or friends. The cost of families and communities can be devastating. Families often are strained financially and emotionally when a parent is incarcerated. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, nearly 3 million children in the US are forced to live without at least one parent due to criminal convictions often for non-violent offenses. Research also shows that children without fathers have a higher chance of spending time behind bars than their peers and reduced economic mobility. Many researchers, government officials and members of the law enforcement community know the system isnt working and they're looking for solutions. Texas has often held on visiting sample of how states can enact reform. A state often known for being tough on crime is taking a smart on crime reproach as governor Perry recently put it. Successful initiatives are sought to reintegrate former prisoners back into society, recidivism, and reduce the prison population. Thats why the Charles Koch Institute has chosen Austin as the venue for a forum exploring this topic and we hope advancing reforms. Giving our focus on reproving well-being, overcriminalization and the considerable impact it has on people and their families is certainly an area that we believe merits serious discussion. And we believe that by bringing experts together with different experiences, perspectives and backgrounds that solutions to this critical problem can be reached, and we're excited to ear from our distinguished panel. So now I'll turn it over to Andrew Kirell. Thank you very much. [Applause] Andrew Kirell:Thank you. On the behalf of the media, I just want to thank CKI for doing this again. This is the second time we've done it with them and we hope to be as thoughtfulif not, more. Let me introduce our panel. So to my left, we have Norman Reimer, who is the President Norman Reimer:Executive Director. Andrew Kirell:Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. To his left, we have Marc Levin, whoyeaha director of the Center for Effective Justice and writer, which are both housed at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. And then to his left, we have Bernard Kerik, who is the former commissioner of the New York Police Department. And then to his left, we have Gary Bledsoe, who is the President of the Texas branch of NAACP. So before we get started, I just want to say this issue is added support as a human interest or beyond just policy, it's a human interest or at least how I view it. So thats why I want to start with Commissioner Kerik because youve sort of lived this. I mean, you wereanybody who lives in New York will think of Bernard Kerik, they think hard-on crime. They thinkyou were credited with reducing crime during your tenure. And then you have an experience and now you are a criminal justice reformer. So tell us about that. Bernard Kerik:I was the New York City Police Commissioner. Before that, I was a cop, I was a correction officer, I was the warden of the county jail. I ranin the New York City Jail system in 1995-2000. In 2000, I became the New York City Police Commissioner in charge of 55,000 New York City police officers. Responsible for the safety and security of the city. I later became the intra-minister of the terrier of the rock for President Bush. I was nominated for Homeland Security Secretary in 2004 and thats a result of a nanny that my wife and I had that we did not pay tax on. I declined the position. Underwent state in federal investigations, the last before the 5 years, and eventually I pled guilty to 8 felonies and was sentenced to 4 years in federal prison. I mean, what sort ofIf I had to sum it off in a short sentence, I put many people in prison. I oversaw one of the whole substantial drug investigations in US history. These were bad people that did bad things 10 years, 20 years, 30 years in life. They tried to kill me. They killed men I worked with. I seized tons of cocaine from them. Millions of drug proceeds. I dont have any problems. I sit up here today to the people I put in prison when I was a drug agent. But then I went to federal prison and I remember one of the first young, black men that I met from both when I asked them how much time he hadhow much time he had, what he had been sentenced to. I was told 10 years. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for 5 grams of cocaine, which is about the weight probably of the top of this container. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for 5 grams of cocaine at a conspiracy, and I was sickened by it because all I could think of after being there for a month, we're going to keep this kid in prison for eight and a half years. He's not going to learn anything except how to steal, cheat, lie, manipulate, gamble, con and fight. And then we're going to let him out and we're going to send him back into society and by some delusion, somebody in the congress, somebody that creates these sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums. They think that thats better for society. I disagree. I dont think it's better for society. I think it destroys society. I think it destroys families and my mindset on a number of things in the system changed. The longer I was in prison and I spent 3 years and 11 days in a federal minimum security camp, the longer I was there, the more I learned about the system and the more I realized that it in dire need of prepare. Andrew Kirell:And you sort of related to somethingI'm going to go to Gary Bledsoe next. You know, you sort of eluded to something that is sort of the elephant in the room, what I talk about it is the racial disparity. I mean, you know, a lot of what's oftenI will mention in the remarks but there is clearly a disparity of how the criminal justice system treats especially by Americans compared to everybody else. I mean, why is that? Bernard Kerik:Well, the bottom line is in these urban areas where drugs are a way of life when you take those young people. Look, you can arrested for 5 grams of cocaine on a state charge and it could be reduced from ait may not even be a felony. But then it could get reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. You can get probation. In New York City, you make it 60 days. You make it 6 months in a county in the county facility. But in the federal system, it could be 10 years, it could be 15, it could be 20, tacked on to a conspiracy. I'm no mathematician and I'm no mathematical genius. But I can tell you this, if you both gotand Gary will understand this probably better than anyone. If you look at the statistical rate that we have incarcerated black men for the last 30 years, and you look at 30 years from today if we continue that rate. I believe 70-75% of every black men in this country is he going to hide and be in prison or underof some parole or probation. It's unsustainable. It can't continue. You have to stop. Andrew Kirell:What do you say about that, Gary? Gary Bledsoe:Well, I think Berns clearly correct. I think it's an enormous problem. I think we have to look at history to begin with to really understand the problem. I think what occurred this many, many years ago calls up things revolving in this country, there was a national campaign undertaken by the south to convince individuals about the inferiority of African Americans and about the criminal disposition and that led to many other things such as the convict releasing program that was basically Slavery by Another Name. I think many might have seen the book, Doug Blackman, Slavery by Another Name, incredible book. But I think they go into detailing the reasons and some of the economics behind the prison system and wanted to get more people in there to provide free labor for a number of nefarious reasons. So those things provided a true underpinning for why with an incentive to put people into prison. But one of the things that Blackman talked about in his book is that around the nation really it would have particularly in the south, a culture was created where individuals were convicted of crimes they have not committed and that they were knowingly convicted of those crimes and that it became such a big industry that these became like commodities and they were individuals who were going around and buying paper for which people were convicted and this even occurred in Texas. So I think it's somewhat of a truly tragic situation. I know that is now moved into what's occurring today even with the idea of trying to privatize what's happening in the correctional industry and I think thats a real problem that we have to look at and try to abort because I think it's a bad thing and something where we should not undertake. But I think we started looking at the studies that have been done and all of the independent individuals who dont have a political agenda who have looked at this issue have all come up with conclusions that at whatever aspect of the system they looked, that there was some problem with eitherthat led to discriminatory result or some kind of potential discrimination behind the result that ended. So we can look at either whether it was Tony Fabelo studying the Texas system showing that whether it's the likelihood of arrest, the likelihood of conviction, the likelihood of a lengthier sentence, the likelihood of having your paper revoked your parole or your probation. There's a racial dynamic to that. We can look at the Texas Appleseed Group and the Department of Education recently and what theyve done with the school and prison pipeline. I think what the Department of Education has even done, which is truly incredible to me, they looked at preschool programs and found out that African American preschoolers where much more likely to be expelled from a preschool program, like 18% of preschoolers being African American but 48% of those assigned or out of school suspension being African American. I think I can go and on and talk about it one study or another but I think that what's occurring is it's very clear. There's a system that is about to envelop all of the African American male population. I think [???][0:14:36.4] is reallyhe's really correct 100% and I think it's a bad thing and it's something that we need to address and there are different reasons for different people that want to address the problem. I think it's wrong. I think it's discrimination. I think that the system needs to be changed to be a more respectable on the national level. There're legislations such as the Smarter Sentencing Act, the End Racial Profiling Act that are now at congress and one that would address in the juvenile arena as well. So I think we need to look at supporting goals but I think that also on the state level. We need to try to do things. I've been so glad to work with, you know, Marc Levin and [???][0:15:22.6] here in Texas and have had some success. Things are getting more difficult in Texas though and maybe even more difficult this time but I'm glad to see the debate is getting broader because I think there are other social reasons. And one aspect I did mention besides the wrongness of the policy is the financials behind it. When we look at the enormous amount of money they spent to incarcerate an individual. I think it's absurd. I think it ruin the edge, the tax expenses that dont need to be added to and we had done studies I know that years ago. We've got Dr. Dwight Stewart to do his study for ushed probably remember that. And we were able to have some real success that the legislature, not as much as we wanted but we were able to show that if you just briefly change the policy about how long you retain someone in the Department of Corrections that you would probably reduce this by 6 months average per prisoner. You save the stateI forget how many hundreds of millions of dollars but it's like 200 million dollars a year or something. It was a pretty incredible sum. So I think we need to be smart and need to look at the numbers to see where we might go and look at some judges like I know Judge Vanessa Gilmore in Houston, United States District Judge is doing some really incredible and great things there because she recognizes the family and the whole family aspect thats here because every time that you send someone to prison, you may lose an income earner, lose someone thats going to be able to help guide the children. It's going to be a stigma placed on the child and all kinds of things that they all have to deal with. And I think that there's 7.3 million American children that have parents, at least one parent thats incarcerated and is expected that 70% of them will follow soon with their parents. So thats a problem that we've identified and we see and we need to do whatever we can to try to stop that from continuing. Andrew Kirell:So we'll talk about that a little more too. I want to go to Norman Reimer now. I sort of want to lay the ground before we get to the solutions and all the nitty-gritty. One of the other things we havent talked about yet is collateral consequencesthere are things that can no longer have the right to do. Norman Reimer:Right. That's correct. So let me discuss some numbers with you, okay? We start with the problem of mass incarceration of this country. Thats a core problem, okay? We have roughly 2.1 million people in jail right not in this country. We have more people in jail in the United States both in absolute numbers and per capita than any other country on the planet. So it raises the question, are we a nation of bad people? I dont think we are. I think we are a nation that has made some bad choices and we have gotten intoxicated on the use of our criminal justice system to regulate virtually every aspect of personal, social and economic behavior. Now [Applause] Norman Reimer:Yeah, I like applause, but I wish we could turn it around. But that really is only the first number when we want to look at the state of well-being in our society. There are two other numbers to keep in mind. One of them is 45,000. Thats how many collateral consequences there are. That, as a result of a study done by the American Bar Association under a grant from NIJ, they're still counting and they have found 45,000 of these collateral consequences. Thats astonishing. These are penalties that are imposed not as a result of the request of a prosecutor and not pronounced by a judge in sentenced. They are buried in both the federal and the state laws. Theyre at the state level, they're are the county level, they're at the municipal level and they inflict people who have a brush with the criminal system with a lifelong altering debarments, disabilities. It affects the way you can live. It affects your right to housing. It affects your right to student loans. It affects the immigration status of even lawful residents who are legally. Played by the rules. They can be deported as a result of a conviction. It affects every realm of family rights. It affects virtually every occupation you can think of is affected by-- Andrew Kirell:What are some examples of the things thats been on somebodys collateral consequence? Norman Reimer:Collateral consequences are not being able to be in public housing. I'll give you someNACDO has just completed a 3-year study and we're about to release a report called, Collateral Damage: Americas Failure to Forgive and Forget in the War on Crime. And it lays out a blueprint for the restoration of rights and we took testimony across the country over three years over a 150 witnesses from every player in the justice system, from people whove been through the system unfortunately like Commissioner Kerik, from people who work in probation and parole and we have gotten the human face of this and I'll give you some examples, okay? A mother of four whose dismissed from a job at a bank because of a shoplifting arrest that didn't even result in a conviction. A 75-year-old man who is thrown out of public housing and put on a sexual registry list because of one incidence of public urination. A decorated veteran of one our wars who was deported not withstanding the fact that he was a permanent resident, had served his country with distinction and have one misdemeanor conviction. This is the face of collateral consequences and we have to, when we talk about solutions, we have to as a country come to grips with this because economically, morally, it is wrong, it is depleting the resources of this country. We cannot allow people because they have had a brush with the criminal justice system to be permanently put into second-class status. Andrew Kirell:Now, let me play the devils advocate for a second. Those examples may be outliers. I mean, dont a lot of people, you know, there are violent people who deserve to-- Norman Reimer:Look, if somebody is convicted of a violent crime, the chances are they're going to go away for a very long time. But you can't paint with a broad brush. Let me pick up on something Gary said. The single most common crimes that result in jail and in convictions, first of all, the most common crime is driving without a license in this country by the way, and we did a study of that, and thats not because people have lost their license necessarily because they were reckless drivers. Thats a penalty thats imposed for all kinds of things that people do. But beyond that it's drugs, okay? In 2010, we had 1.7 million drug arrests in this country. Half of them were from marijuana and the overwhelming majority of that half was for simple possession. But we know, we know from studies that the use of marijuana is the same in the white community, in the Hispanic community, in the African American community, but we are arresting people in the African American community at 3.7 times the rate that we're arresting people in the white community. So I dont want to hear about outliers and I dont want to hear aboutwell, you know, there's this certain situation with a sexual predator. Yeah, of course, you can have that for a sexual predator. But when it's a 19-year-old who had sex with a 16-year-old, do you really want that person registering for the rest of youre their life or the example I gave? The problem is and I'll justI'll wrap it up with this. The problem is that we can't control our legislatures. We can't stop them. Right here in Texas a year ago, I was privileged to be invited by the Texas Public Policy Foundation to do a presentation on overcriminalization at the start of the legislative session. And there was a wonderful presentation by Representative Bill Callegari I believe who spoke about Texas infatuation with the regulation of occupation. Well, I will tell you that since I was here last January in the last session of the 2013 session of the legislature. The Texas legislature enacted 22 new collateral consequences barring people from various occupations and 26 additional ones through regulation. This includes landscaping, architects, interior design. You can even be an inspector in a vehicle inspection station as a result of the actions of the last legislature. This is a problem, which knows no bounds. It is neither a democratic nor a republican problem. It is not a blue state or red state. It is not conservative or liberal. It is a national hunger for the use of the criminal justice system and penalties that we as a country have got to come to grips with. Marc Levin:Well, thatThomas Jefferson said, the natural tendency is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. And thats just what you described. So we have to push back against that and we havent beenyou know, obviously those occupations you mentioned were already licensed in Texas and then it creates its own constituency. And so those arealready want to have every rule and law passed to keep new people out. And of course, if you could string supply, you increase wages so it's better for those people. It's a classic economic problem. I want to step back a little bit on the well-being aspect of this just to say I think when we look at criminal justice, we have to say where are the touchdowns as far as well-being is concerned and one of them is obviously we just hadvictims rights. Certainly crime has a particularly property and of course most of all violent crime a negative impact most certainly on the individual victim but also when you have whole neighborhoods that are living in fear and so forth. But then when we do sanctions in response to those crimes that actually make things worse, we add on to that. And one of the things weve tried to really say from the very beginning is if I steal from you, the government isnt the victim, society isnt the victim, you're the victim. So we need to move towards approaches like victim offender mediation where you basically dont need government except to enforce the agreement thats reached through the mediation. So the way it works is basicallyI stole from you, and again this is with your request and the defending house to consent to because they're waving their right to trials. But we sat down and worked out an agreement with a mediator for restitution community service, etc. this happens far more quickly than the criminal justice judicial process and the data shows much more likely for the victim to get restitution, much more likely to say they're satisfied, and you know, we use a lot of statistics in the criminal justice system but I think at the end of the day these are human interactions and one of the things we've found from studies interviewing victims is the thing they want most of all often in the restitution is an apology and only the offender can provide that. They also want an assurance of that persons life to steal from someone else. And of course I guess you can put them in prison for life without parole but realistically for, you know, a kid in my neighborhood, a 10-year-old just steals something in my garage. We're not going to incarcerate him but we want him to understand that he didn't just violate the words of a statute on a sheet of paper. He harmed another individual by sending across my individual and hearing how that individual was harmed. It in most people awakens their conscience. So thats why I think these approaches are proven to reduce recidivism. So again, you know, the big picture is, the stronger families are and the strongerthe less government you need and once we do have a violation of another persons rights by stealing from them or committing a violent crime, then we need to look at the way the government can be least involved and simply enforcing a resolution thats satisfactory to the victim. Andrew Kirell:What about violence? You're talking about, you know, therere victims. But what about where there is no victim that it's a crime? I meanhow do youhow does the justice system at least as youhow we waste a lot of money on especially non-violent convictionsI mean, what is the big cure for that? Marc Levin:Well, I think what you're getting at is crimes like drugs and prostitutions where-- Andrew Kirell:Also, I mean, there's, you know, a lot of, you know, fraud... Marc Levin:Well, I mean, I think there's definitely restitutions critical on those case too. Certainly I would say in a case likesomething like that. He was entirely correct that he needed to go to prison. I think that they'rebut most property crimes are nothing in that magnitude and again, I think the victim should have the option to be able to request mediation and they dont currently and unfortunately in my view, it's the prosecutors that are driving the entire train. I mean, there're many great prosecutors but the prosecutors will tell you, you know, even if the victim wants restitution for, you know, if I do, a 10-year-old steals from my garage, the prosecutors will want to say no. They want to have the authority to beat all that and I think we need to go back to looking at it not as this phrase that, you know, owing in debt to society is entirely wrong headed. It's only in debt to the person that you harmed. Andrew Kirell:Right. So it's more of an interpersonal solution that you're sort ofsort of justice what you call. Marc Levin:Yes, but I do think there also is to some degree a neighborhood component of this too. In fact there have been successful mediations between highschool gangs and things like that. There is certainly an effect if somebody breaks into my home and my neighbors that are in fear. So there is a role to bring community members in Vermont. They have these restorative sentencing centers and they have basically sentencing circles where people sit around, volunteers in the community and decide there's 14 of these centers and it's kind of like they do on Indian reservations passed around at the time and everybody talks about how this affected the community and then they reachagain, it's not sending people to jail but it's sanctions and restitution community service that tries to restore the victim and the community. Andrew Kirell:I would say thats Vermont, you know, I can see that being the response to that, thats Vermont. You can kind of see that sitting aroundsort of conversations like that but you know, is thats something you could apply it to, you know, rarely grasp the large urban areas or, you know, on a federal level. Marc Levin:Well, I think that theweve actually been studying the mediation program, which is doing thousands of cases every year incredibly successful. I think the victim federal mediation where you could have an attorney or a volunteer as a mediator or a minister. Thats a bit easier to scale than the sensing circles in a rural community in Vermont. So I do think you do have to take that into account. But as far as the overcriminalization goes, I did want to briefly touch on that. I mean, one of the biggest problems is the erosion of mens rea where you no longer have to prove a couple of mental state in many instances to convict somebody and the example we give I think that helps illustrate it is the drug laws in Florida, the legislature, they actually said no couple mental stage required for convictions. So that means if you run a car it hurts and there were drugs where the spare tire is supposed to be and you're pulled over for speeding and the dog sniffs those, you're going to prison for a mandatory minimum for 10 or 15 years if a prosecutor chooses to bring that case, and you know, that kind of goes back to how this growth in the number of criminal laws truly gives the government the authority to make a charge against anyone. The head of the secret police undersaid, bring me the man, I'll find the criminal, and thats where we're at. Andrew Kirell:So that reminds meone big component to this, it isa little bit regulatory aspect of this, is a criminal, a civil liberties lawyer out of Bostonwho said something like, you know, I actually read a book about it where he said that you know, if you were to follow any individual, any average American, follow him for a day, going about their business, he could find at least three felonies that theyve committed. So at the time, there is this question of are we an overperhaps overregulated or overcriminalized nationI mean, there areCommissioner Kerik, you said that you know, there are people that youve served in jail with that did all sorts of, you know, crimes that were notthat seem kind of absurd. Bernard Kerik:Well, it'sI was probably 60-70% of the men I was with in the minimum security camp where there for drug crimes. But there were other men there and some men enhanced their income on a mortgage application. It's done 95% of the time in this country. If you're targeted, you go to prison. There's so many things that a young man, a 21-year-old United States marine sniper. He sold a pair of his own personal night vision goggles on eBay. He went to prison for 3 years. Commercial fishermen that caught too many fish. Many of themthere were many of them. Andrew Kirell:Somebody who sold something on eBay was another one? Bernard Kerik:The things they sold on eBay but to think about some of these and especially the commercial fishermen. The problem is you take a man, 55 or 65 years old, thats all he's done. One of these men I knew personally I met and became friends with. He had been fishing since he was 17 years old. Thats all he knew. They put him in prison for 18 months. He served his time but then he can't fish ever again. They took his license. He lost his company. His wife lost her house. His family was destroyed. His life was destroyed. Where is he going to go? The collateral cause of that conviction was mindboggling and devastating. I got a back up one second because Norm talked about congress failing to do its job and the legislators. And Gary mentioned wrongful convictions and I want the viewers and I want the people in this audience to think about this, when it comes to wrongful convictions in our criminal justice system today. Last year, there were several reports that came out but one of which thatit talked about wrongful convictions and it talked about over the past 15 years, nearly a thousand people were convicted wrongfully and sentenced to nearly 10,000 years in prison. Think about that number. A thousand people sentenced to 10,000 years in prison. And I ask you, you know, today, we have congressional hearings on the Nielsen Rating System to see how well it works. We have congressional hearings when secret service agents go in too far on country and party. We have congressional hearings on sports players to take performance-enhancing drugs. Why are we not having congressional hearings on this system and what's wrong with it? Why aren't we having congressional hearings to determine why those wrongful convictions happen and why we are depriving American citizens from their freedom wrongfully, illegally? [Applause] Bernard Kerik:Our congressional leaders have got to stop this mindset that they arethey're scared to death to act because they feel like they're soft of crime. It's got to stop. Theyve got to be smarter on crime. Theyve got to be aggressive on change and aggressive on reform. Andrew Kirell:And Norman, you were tryingI saw you wanted to add something to this-- Norman Reimer:Well, I thinkone thing I think the viewers should also know, which is, far be it for me ever to come to the defense of the legislators and in the country but we are pleased thatthere's a small little, not well known thing going on in the House of Representatives, and the House Judiciary Committee has a bipartisan task force on overcriminalization, and theyve been looking at a number of these aspects. They had six hearings last year. They had one so far this year and I think they're going to have several more. I think they may even look at penalties. I'm hoping that they're going to lookI'm hoping that they're going to look at the question of collateral consequences. So I think there's a ray of hope there but we've got a long way to go. We really have tothis is the thing. We have to be smart and constructive about changing the dialogue. And you know, this is one of those things where the people have to lead, you know. The politicians are going to have to come to this reluctantly but if people can lead on this because this is notwhat we've done to ourselves is not good for our country. It's just not good for ourfor the well-being of our society in any way that they perform to have these classes of people. I was also nodding at Commissioner Keriks comment about the fishermen. This is the thing that is so really tragic about these collateral consequences that we had. There's no rational basis for a lot of them. Some of them are mandatory. Now, why should you mandatorily lose your right to vote or lose your right to bare arms if the crime had nothing to do withyou're not a danger, if you stole from somebody. You paid your debt to society. Why shouldnt you have your rights back? This is the thing that we have to do. We have to come to grips with it because what we're doing is we're cutting off opportunity and we're costing ourselves, and I'll just give you one other important consideration especially when it comes to employment. We knowwe know that recidivism is directly related to whether or not a person gets a job. We know that if a person gets a job, the chances of them going back into criminal activity drops precipitously. We also know that if a personstudies done on this. If a person goes 3.8 years without being rearrested, the risk that they will ever be rearrested again is the same as the general population. We've got to give people an opportunity to get back to work and the last point I'll make on that is to bear in mind that so much of this focuses on youth. So much of these arrests, so much of this crime is by young people. We know from studies that the mind isthe higher levels of the mind, the functioning of the mind aren't even developed until people are 25 years old. I'm not arguing about holding them criminally responsible over a certain age, though I take great exception to holding children criminally responsible. But even if you do, youve got to look at the fact that people change and they grow and they mature and youve got to give them hope. Andrew Kirell:Before we continue, I just wanted to know for those watching at home, we're going to be taking questions at the end. We might take questions from Twitter. So if you use the hashtag, justice reform but you can submit your questions to us. This if for anybody who wants to take it. It seems like a lotall four of you said things that are very simple. It seems like it's a no-brainer to want to reform whether it's the racial aspect, whether it's the over regulatory aspect, whether it's restorative justice. Like what are the forces at work and I'm treating all of the different take on thisI mean, what are the forces that work that are preventing this because it doesnt seem like there was anybody saying, no, we got to keep criminal idea Gary Bledsoe:There are huge forces, and let me mention to start out. One of the things thats did work and I think many of us have felt the impact of this is it's good politics to be hard on crime. It's good politics to be hard on crime. But it's good politics to be extreme on race and whether we like it or not, and now here in Texas. I know Marc and I would tell you that we've lost very good legislators would be the lost, who would not run for reelection because they could read theand issues such of being smart on crime are not good politics. So that intimidates other people in the legislature when they see these things happening to their colleagues who only did the right thing. And so we have to understand that unless we come together those on the left and those on the right and say we need to be smart and take this issue out of the political dynamic, we're going to continue to have problems. They have had hearings but I think what the chief is talking about is having a different kind, a more visible. The kind of hearing that really draws the nations attention to the problem because it's a horrendous situation. So thats number one. Number two, I think one of the problem that we have is simply that many of our public officials are not sensitive to the issue when they are in power. I'll give you one quick example. I had a case of an individual had revocations in Travis County and another county and the judge in Travis County understood the issues, wanted to extend their probation and allowed them to continue to live. They had a family. The family was going to be harmed by the person going to jail. The complainant said that I really made a false complaint but the other county went ahead and moved forward anyway, and revoked a probation even under those circumstances. So without regard to the person losing the business, without regard to the children who are going to be without a father, it would just cope, and I think we got to say that thats not the appropriate thing. Yeah, no one wants to be in a neighborhood where there's crime, okay? I've been victimized by crime like all of you might have been and so we're not encouraging anyone to engage in criminal activities. But we need to be smart about the ideas that we allow to go forward. Because what happens is, with this frenzy, the other part of in being difficult for legislators to do things and to be able to stand up for those is that we have legislators who want to make a mark and they make a mark by [???][0:42:02.6] issues. And you look atwhether you can't get public housing now. You can't let them tell youyou can't qualify for student loans or once youve done your time, you want to improve your life, you're ineligible for loans to improve your life. We know many states like Texas, private entities can say we dont want to lease an apartment to anyone that has a record. So you know, it goes on and on and on to where you do put them in terms of being a second-class citizen. So how can you ever rehab and get back to where you want. So the system promotes people going back into the system and creating problems and I know one of thethe big lawsuit now that actually the Texas attorney general has brought to go after the EOC where the EOC tried to put a curve on the use of criminal background checks where these are being used to disadvantage people necessarily and prevent them from being able to have an opportunity in life. And so the attorney general has filed a lawsuit saying no, it's inappropriate for you to give guidelines to suggest people how they could smartly use criminal convictions because thats been a huge problem for people. I look at some company I think, you know, I will shout outwe know they have a program where they do hire people that have a criminal conviction but we need to have some things like that that happen to make it for a situation where people can get back into society and not have his terrible stigma or else they're going to continue to have the tight problems that we dont want them to have. Andrew Kirell:I want another aspect. I think another sort of force maybe at work here. I think this maybethe budgetary aspect sort of self-impetrating motion of that is the regulatory state. I mean, peoplecriminal justice system is going to continue to want to keep it self-employed so there's nothingthere's no person saying let's keep criminalizing everything. It's just, you know, peoples jobs depend on having all this negative. Marc Levin:Yeah, and I willGary identify some valid points but there has been a lot of change. We did a poll several months ago in Texas out of a thousand likely voters on these very issues and found off the charts, 70-80% support for alternatives to incarceration for, you know, reducing the number of non-violent offenders in prison, drugs courts and all sorts of alternatives and so tea party identified voters who were among the strongest supporters. And just in the microcosm, there was a DA raise in the republican primary in the Hays County, a conservative county just up the road and the two candidates of public and primary were fighting over who was more approach on court. Who was going to use lighting summons, I mean, it was really impressive. So there has been a lot of change but thereI think it is a vulnerable issue to a bumper sticker or a 30-second radiohead. You can't deny that. But I do think the public is gaining a more nuance understanding of these issues. To answer your question, absolutely, I mean, these agencies, the license, occupations, they werent exist but of the writingthe more people that are licensed, the more money they get. You can also look at it in the probation system. People on probation, they pay over half the cost of probation, which by the way is $3.75 a day versus $50 a day in Texas prison but half that cost, more than half now is paid by probationers. Now, I think thats appropriate but on the other hand, what happens is they dont want to early terminate exemplary probationers after years of being in compliance and posing no risk to the public because theyll lose the money, because those are the same guys that are paying their fees so they dont need any supervision. So they need those guys to kind of cross-subsidize the people that are shaky on paying their fee. Many times since they can't get a job is the things we discussed. So I think we need to look at maybe having any revenues to come on just go into the, you know, general treasury. I dont think we should necessarilyI think it's fine that people pay if they're able, some cost of their supervision. But that shouldnt just be the probation department so dependent on that revenue that creates an incentive to keep these people on longer than necessary. Andrew Kirell:So I want to start. We want to give the audience questions in a second. But before we do, I just want to ask Mr. Kerik one last question. So given all you know, now that you're a criminal justice reformer, would you, you know, say go back in 2000 and you were commissioner Kerik now again in 2000. Would you have donewith reducing crimeyou were known as a successful commissioner but would you change how you ran the citys police department. Bernard Kerik:No, I wouldnt. I think people have to be held accountable for their actions. You violate the law, you have to be held accountable. My problem with the system today is that we overincarcerate, that they'reand I'm notwas not responsible for that as a police [Background noise] difference between a prison and a jail. Because I had 133,000 inmate admissions a year but our average length of stay was 45-54 days at the time. You're not rehabilitating in that system. There's not much you can do. The bottom line is in prison systems, you can incentivize good time, you can get people out faster, you can reduce the head count and enormoustoday, you have over 23,000 men in minimum security camps in the federal prison system. They're there in a camp that has no fence, that has no locks, thats unsecured. Basically you're there on an honor system. There was no fence around the camp I was at. I could walk outside and take off anytime I wanted to. You're going to get arrested and be brought back but you're there based on your own honor. If you could be there, why can't you be on home confinement working, paying taxes, taking care of your family, taking care of your kids, doing community service, making restitution. The systems contradicts it's own mission statement and it's doing it overwhelmingly, you know. Norman talked aboutyou guys talked about restitution, okay, if you really, really want that guy to make restitution, then allow him to do it. Dont crucify him. And not letting him completely, professionally, personally and then expect you're going to paidyou're not getting paid back. He's not paying restitution. He's not gonna be able to do it. He can't work. He can't get a job. Marc Levin:Yeah, and we have numbers on that by the way in taxes. Probationers pay 50 million restitution of prisoners less than 500,000 total in finings fees and restitutions. Andrew Kirell:So I believe we'll be now take the audiences questions and sort of question...let me pass the microphone. Oh this is from Twitter? Wonderful. None of these are directed to anybody in particular. Are there any actions or behaviors that are undercriminalized or perhaps underpenalized? Norman Reimer:Not in this country. Andrew Kirell:Not in this country? [Laughter] Norman Reimer:What if we left? What's left to criminalize? Andrew Kirell:There ought to be a law sort of Norman Reimer:Yeah. Okay. Thats actually a good point that we can jump off. I mean, why does this happen? It happens almost always because of hysterical reactions and because politicians jump in. You take any high visibility case and some bad law is going to come out of it. Some bad criminal law is going to come out of it. Whether it's a high visibility murder or something like that, an accident, a plant thing, whatever it is, it's going to lead tobecause the reason is because it givesthe politician has the allure of doingthe illusion of doing something. When something happens, you say like, I love this example because it's so classic. A couple of years ago, there was a tremendous tragedy in New York where I'm from, where a casino bus driver had an accident. He fell asleep at the wheel and a number of people were killed. It's a terrible tragedy. The man wasnt drinking. He wasnt taking drugs. He had a perfect driving record and yet they prosecuted him on 11 or whatever counts of manslaughter, and he was acquitted. He was acquitted because guess what? Accidents happen. People sometimes die as a result of those accidents but thats not criminal. And the jury figured it out and they acquitted him. So what do we get then? We got spate of driving while drowsy laws. Many proposed. Some actually enacted that making a strict liability offense that if they can prove that you had an accident and you hadnt slept for 24 hours, youve committed a crime. Well, think about the people who sometimes have to drive. Police officers, firemen, medical people who work these ridiculous shifts and have families to support, this is how it happens in our society. We got to turn that back and we got to think about, you know, what kind of a country do we want to be and are we going to allow people to get on with their lives and not face this fear of prosecution. Marc Levin:Well, it's a one-way reaction. I think the ABA or one of these groups has an essay contest. There shall be a law and of course we need one that should not be a law but again, as what you said with these boutique crimes if every problem, you know, is if all you had is a hammer, every problem is a nail. Thats pretty much legislators make law. And so it's almost impossible to repeat. So one of the ideas we're trying to move forward is kid of a military based closure commission model because prosecutors even agree that maybe these laws areoverlapping and in fact, the lobbyist for the Texas prosecutors has said, this actually makes their job more difficult and he's pointed out that it often gives businesses. Some of these criminal laws where one business trying to put another out of business. And he said, that gives them a free government lawyer when this matter should be civil if it's even not to be left in the free market, which would largely be the preference I think. So you know, this actually is a consuming the time of prosecutors who should be obviously focusing on crimes that involve harm to another human being. Andrew Kirell:This one is another one for anybody. My criminal justice reform mean more private investment or investment in work release or transitional housing program. Is that one solution? Gary Bledsoe:I personally, I guess therere two parts of that. I think the one part, I'm not for privatization, getting involved in that because I think it becomes more business. So I think personally speakingI think that you want to see these programs that are run by governmentso they dont become an unreasonable incentive to put people in the programs that are run. I think there are some things that you just dont do in society. You dont encourage people who are elderlyare people who are in confined to bebecome a tool of a financial circumstance. And I think thats one of the reasons why we have a problem in the system that we do now because there are so much money involved in the system. We see that, you know, in Texas, we have cities that want to have new prisons. So they come and ask for the next prison to be built there. You know, we found they cut back and shut down the prison in Texas and it took a long time for that to happen but it's become such a big complex and it's a money maker and you have a city that has difficult jobs and people would want to have a prison industry come in. But now as to the aspect in terms of what we would see, I think that we can see that a number of the crimes shouldnt be criminal and I think thats onethere needs to be massive reform of the penal code and all the criminal laws and all the other codes to try to take some of them out of the penal code. Number two, like the smart sentencing law that we have on the federal side. I think we need to have an assessment done so you can do things like Judge Gilmore and look at circumstances, maybe not criminalize individuals who dont need to be criminalized because like Chief Kerik was saying, we got someone there that made a mistake on mortgage application. They had to clean the record otherwise but they're sitting there in prison, so their families are being harmed and whos really benefitting from that. No one really and truly is benefitting from that. So I think we're going to see more programs like that. We see more programs or individuals are allowed to go into society and live in homes and to actually become our society actually pay taxes and do things with that nature. Thats what we would like to see something that is more holistic and take a holistic approach when you look at the punishment and you're not just cold-hearted like the judge that we saw in that East Texas County that simply said, no, you made a mistake. I know one thing we see in Texas is that in the past we've had so many people just for financial reasons. You couldnt make a payment on your probations. So you get yanked. I think thats absurd, you know. People in difficult circumstances. They may not have the means to do it but you have the authority and the attitude just so you didn't pay. I'm going to put you in prison. So everybody is harmed by that. So I think we get a number of people together, you come up with all the ideas in mind but those thoughts are thoughts that I would like to see implemented to the extent that we dont privatize them too much to put a [???][0:56:01.1] Bernard Kerik:Andrew, I just want to touch on the privatization thing for one second because this is an 80-billion dollar a year industrycorrectionprison system. Okay. 80 billion dollars across the board. 2 years ago, a private correction company sent a letter to a number of states and basically what they wanted, they said, we will take your state prisoners. We will take control of your system, and we will do it cheaper than you do for a much less cost with two guarantees. One, that it's a 20-year contract. Two, that you guarantee us a 90% occupancy rate. Now, I have to tell you, and this is true what I'm telling you. If I was runningand signed a contract like that, I could promise you, I would have to do many, many things illegally to meet the contract. Id have to make sure that people got violated. Id have to make sure that they got no incentivized good time. Id have to make sure I did everything physically in my power to keep those facilities packed to guarantee me a 90% occupancy rate. Who in the world can guarantee in 4 years from now in 6, 8, 12 years from today, I'm going to have a 90% occupancy rate in a facility. How are you going to sign a contract like that? But there are states that are seriously considering privatizing under those conditions. It's insane. Gary Bledsoe:Let me just addthe chief has some astounding point and there are entities in this state that have contracts that do require certain percentage to be incarcerated and how many of those contracts. So I dont remember if it's 90% or not but thats something that has actually happened. Marc Levin:You know, I mean, I totally agree with you that those arrangements areI mean, just planned out wrong. Now, TDCJ does not have any contracts like that. In fact, they can back up their truck to any private facility that contracts with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. They can pull those inmates out anytime they want and in fact, some of the prisons that we've closed, we closed adult prisons and two of those were private state jails. One of them was a public, a government prison. So I think one of the big problems is how do youI mean, for example, there's a great role to haveI mean, non-profit, I think we would all agree running treatment programs in prisons. Mentoring programs often better than the government can do it. The key is not justfirst of all, dont incentivize incarceration. Dont guarantee occupancy rates. I mean, thats obvious but also dont just have a flatbut have an incentive for reducing recidivism. Pay a large measure based on results and frankly, then you could actually take advantage of what the private sector is good at which is innovating instead with these private prison contracts, you have to have the same key system. The teachers have to have the same days off as the state prison system and you might save a little bit of money on pensions and thats, you know, there's something to be said for that but you're not really encouraging innovation because it's not being done in a market-driven way. Norman Reimer:I like to just comment and say there's awe have to look creatively at how to change our approach to this. There's awe had testimony in our hearings in East Palo Alto, which was at one point known as I guess the murder capital of the country. The police department took a different approach. Instead of trying to violate everybody, they developed a number of programs to try to get people jobs, to get them working, to provide daycare, and suddenly, the murder rate dropped. The recidivism rate dropped. So we have to look at creative things like that, and on this whole issue of privatization. Look, the worst scandal, the most disgraceful thing you can think of is the kids-for-cash scandal that happened in Pennsylvania where they were basically stirring kids, juveniles into this lockup and it ended up in a tremendous scandal. I mean, there are some places where you have to say no. Privatization isnt right. We wouldnt privatize the national defense of the country. We shouldnt privatize incarceration or the criminal justice system. Do private entities have a role to play in helping? Sure. But you can't haveyou can put a prophet motive in locking people up because if you do that, you wind up with what we have, which is mass incarceration. [Applause] Andrew Kirell:Here's another Twitter question that actually relates to that. With crime rates as low as the late 60s especially crimes that have been declining for the last several decades. What's the process of cutting prison population to the level of that particular paradox? Marc Levin:Well, of course I think folks here know the last few years we've seen slight declines in the incarceration rate. More than slight. In Texas I'm proud to say over a double digit decline at the same time our rates of crime have declined double digit and more than the national crime decline. So first of all, weve been able to demonstrate not just in Texas but in dozens of states around the country that you can reduce both incarceration and crime at the same time. And I think as the public and as policy makers see that, they're willing to take the next steps. Now, you're standing at the diving board and the water doesnt look so cold. We can keep reducing incarceration. The key I think isand this is something we have pushed back on again someI mean, frankly some of the liberal politicians in California and Oregon who are supporting reforms there, criminal justice reforms for recent incarceration, which is great. But they wanted to take the money. It was saved and put into our social programs for otherto grow government and other areas. And what we were saying is look, youve got to take as least some of that money and reinvest it in public safety and to law enforcement approach is the day that driven police the things you did in New York. You can actually determine crime when you have police in hotspots on the street. The study show you got fewer auto burglaries and all sorts of other crimes, and of course the things we need to do with probation, treatment, drug courts, the people that aren't going to prison that need some other alternative to hold them accountable. You know, part of the problem is, you got this spectrum where you have probation as a couple of dollars a day, in prison $50 a day and a lot of what we've been doing is filling in that spectrum with things like drug courts or electronic monitoring that might be $8 a day. So youve got to send some of that money back to do those things. And of course, I might use thebut we can all figure that out later. Female:So I've heard a lot of amazing statistics here. I mean, I think one of the most persuasive things though on this panel is having Commissioner Kerik here, who is a person whose story is incredibly persuasive of that Show me the man and I'll show you the crime kind ofplace where we find ourselves. How are you guys finding more stories like that where individual Americans can see themselves as potential victims of this? Maybe relate a little bit more and care a little bit more. Bernard Kerik:I think this was back to what Gary said earlier. A lot of this is about educating the American public. If you dont know it exists, if you dont have some personal discourse, if you havent seen it on your own, if you dont have a friend or a family member who has gone through it, you dont know, and if you dont know, you dont care. And if you dont care, you're not going to do anything about it. Listen, I've done this for 30 years. I've been in this business for 30 years. I was an extremely aggressive cop. I was very good at what I did. I had some of the most greatest success rates in correctional reforms in this countrys history and I did not know that the system worked the way it does. If I did know, I promise you, the American people will know and many of those legislators dont know as long as they dont know. If they saw what I saw, if they witness what I witness, and they felt what I had, it would be anger, it would be outrage and there would be change. The key is to educate the American people and let them know what the realities are, where the flaws, where the failures are, and how we can do something about it. Norman Reimer:I would say, Andrew, the solution starts with you. The media has a big role to play here. There isI completely agree with what the commissioner jus said, there's a big disconnect between the reality of our criminal justice system and what the people think, and it isnt until it hits home when it's a friend, a neighbor, a relative, that they really understand it. And my experience before I was an CEO as a criminal defense lawyer forI defended everything and from double homicide to drinking in public. But the thing that always stuck me as most shocking was the fact that the public did not understand the serious consequences. Most people still think that you can getitll be a slap on the wrist. You can get probation. We're just beginning to break through that myth that nobody goes to jail and thats what's happening. Thats why we're beginning to see progress. I think thats why you're seeing all these different folks on this panel because the country is waking up to what we've created, and thats a hopeful sign and there are a lot of things that we can do to build on that emerging awareness but I do think the media has a role to play. It's hard to resist just like the politicians can't resist. When you got a juicy case and you know, you want toI'm talking about you personally but it's what makes people tune in at night. And you know, those showsthey go with the sensation on. Andrew Kirell:The sad thing though is that a lot of these stories I mean, Commissioner Kerik brings out the story about somebody who was put in jail for selling a whale tooth on eBay or these stories seem they're enough where the media can take up on them and make it into really good human interest stories or also the racial disparity. I mean, that is the something the media should eat upfirst in New York became this big media circus, but for some reason, it just doesntthere seems to be a disconnect why it doesnt become some sort ofit doesnt hit everybody at him necessarily. Gary Bledsoe:There's one thing aboutI think Judge Gilmore, I think the question related in some ways to identifying other individuals who have been victimized in this manner. And one of the things that Judge Gilmore talks about when you hear her talk, I think she even written a book on this isthe letter she gets that she can't act upon that she gets from children who have been sentenced. So you know, you're just going to a sentencing hearing and seeing the family members and people who were there are being to go through a sentencing trial by identifying the individuals who were impacted or negatively effective and I think one of the things that in the book that Judge Gilmore did, she did it with a psychiatrist and because the psychiatrist fairly specialized in children of incarcerate her parents and the stories and the impacts and those children are just pretty astounding if you look at it. So I think there's a resource of there that, you know, individuals who maybe willing to come forward and tell their story. And then there are indeed many people who just been victimized and you look at the situation we had in Texas. We already gotthey got 40 years for one joint and the chief there did the most unbelievable things that I've ever seen. That's not an exaggeration, 40 years for one joint. And so you have an incredible system that. you know, allows people to be victimized in circumstances like that. So I think we can identify them and I think that people can bond with them because I think all of us have had loved ones who have been victimized in the system network. I dont think anyone. I dont care how wealthy or what side of town you come from. I think we can all relate to this issue. We just need to be able to get the people to be put out front to maybe hopefully get more of a connection because I think Marc has a point that we have grown some. But I'm not where he is. I dont think we've grown to the extent that we need to and we got some really good people recently in the legislature. So I dont think the landscape is where it needs to be. Female:This question is for Normal. I like towith the fact that I have many friends whose lives and educational prospects have been completely derailed over less than 3 and half grams of marijuana. You made the statement that people, namely criminals can change and grow. I agree. However, do you think there are types of non-violent offenders namely sex offenders who cannot be rehabilitated or whose rehabilitation and reintegration into society is not worth the risk of the crime they may or may not commit and if so, how do we objectively differentiate between these types of non-violent offenders. Norman Reimer:Well, first of all whenif you're talking aboutI dont necessarily consider sex offenders to be non-violent. So I think you have to take those and treat them differently. On the question, and this is a very sensitive question and the task force that we had that did this study. We grappled very long and hard with the whole issue of sexual registration and those issues because the fact of the matter is that there is probably a very, very small subset of individuals who are in danger or the recidivating in that area. But again, we have painted with such a broad brush, okay? There are all different kinds of things that get lumped as sex offenses like I mentioned public urination but there are other kinds of offenses that do not involve predators. They do not involve child, you know, abusive acts towards children. But we sweep them all together and we've created quite frankly one of the things that we heard most tellingly about with these horror stories of people who couldnt live anywhere because they were barred from living of their registration made it impossible for them to work and get on with their lives. We have toif we're going to do things like that even in the very hot button area of sex offenses, we have to be much more intelligent and selective about it because otherwise, it's totally unfair and it disables people who have no risk at all. In fact, we had testimony from the district attorney from Alameda County who actually is on to our chairs, the sexual management board or whatever it's called in California and she was upset with the way they were dealing with things because you have these residency restrictions and where people can live and statistically most of these abusive things happen within the family. So what sense does it make to block out whole areas where people can't live, and we heard another situation in Florida where people literally the only place they could live in certain communities was under a tunnel, under a train trestle, because that's no way for a civilized society to deal with even a serious problem like that. So I don't know if that answers the question about people whose lives have been ruined for minor drug offenses. I just have to say this aboutwe're getting very close to the point in this country where we really do have to have a national conversation about whether or not the criminalization of controlled substances is the right way to go. [Applause] Norman Reimer:A hundred years ago, we were at the beginning of prohibition. At that time by the way, cocaine was legal, here we are. Marc Levin:Well, and I would say, on the issue of sex offenders, one of the bills we worked onwas removing the employers name and address, and we must have gotten a hundred notes from the mail handwritten from family members. And what was happening is, you know, look, the employer didnt commit a sex offense and here they are potentially being exposed to vigilantism and what not because theyve given somebody a second change. Of course, virtually no sex offense is actually occurring in the workplace. So it's very important to that we use kind of a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer and notthe least prescriptive alternative to satisfy our public safety and I think thats what we all agree on. Andrew Kirell:Unfortunately, there are so many things we can talk about oversadly there are little thousands of other facts that we can talk about here. Thank you everybody for watching at home and thank you everybody for attending and making to the panelist [Applause]