Speaker Newt Gingrich led Right on Crime signatories in a round table discussion on the opioid crisis in Washington DC on Tuesday, May 23 along with the Pat Nolan of the American Conservative Union Foundation and Right on Crime Policy Director, Marc Levin. Conservatives leaders, policymakers and criminal justice reform advocates and local leaders traveled from all over the country to participate in Tuesday’s summit. A long standing advocate for drug courts and substance abuse treatment in place of onerous prison sentences, Gingrich pointed out that tough-sounding prison sentencing has been a successful path. Citing the continuous increase of opioid-related deaths and the rise of the welfare state – perpetuated by sending low-level drug offenders to prison for excessively long periods of time – Gingrich called on the federal government to look to states for better solutions.
“Washington is at least 10 years behind the states,” Gingrich said, “If the federal prison system was more like Texas or Georgia or South Carolina – we’d be doing a dramatically better job of helping people come through, become citizens again, become productive again – and if we’re going to meet President Trumps’ goal of a highly dynamic economy with a high-rated growth, we need to find a way to reintegrate people back in the workforce – not just to have them warehoused off to one side with no future for themselves.”
After wrapping up discussions, signatories and other participants met with numerous Congressional offices to encourage the federal government to follow the lead of the many conservatives states who have seen effective reforms take root.