Rising Star Conservative Governors Call for Justice Reform During RGA Meeting in Austin

Amir Press

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Right on Crime and the Justice Action Network Discuss Job-Creating Reforms at Forum Powered By Google

Residents at Iowa Correctional Institution for Women Watched the Event Live

AUSTIN, T.X. – Today, two fresh faces and rising stars in conservative politics, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, joined one of the country’s most well-respected justice reform policy experts, Marc Levin of Right on Crime, for a panel discussion focused on state successes in smart justice policies at Google’s headquarters in Austin.

The event, organized by the largest bipartisan organization working to reform the justice system, the Justice Action Network, debuted two short films to document the governors’ journeys to bring about real change in their state’s justice systems, reverse the cycle of recidivism, and halt the revolving door of incarceration. The first video showcases Gov. Reynolds’ groundbreaking speech at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women, where today’s event was also livestreamed. The second film follows Governor Bevin as he delivers on his promise to bring real change to Kentucky’s justice system.

“It was not a coincidence that we chose to host this event in Texas during the Republican Governors Association meeting. Voices like Governor Reynolds and Bevin– two rising star Republicans– are best positioned to start a movement in this country to transform our broken justice system.” said Holly Harris, Executive Director of the Justice Action Network, “Those two leaders are talking about justice reform in a totally new way. They understand that these policies will offer second chances to those who earned it, get government out of the way, and put people back to work. Ultimately, their shared goal is to make our communities safer. Our hope is that these rising star governors will inspire elected officials to offer real solutions to our country’s greatest challenges. Let’s start with fixing our broken justice system.”

“As we say in Texas, ‘it ain’t braggin’ if it’s true,’” said Marc Levin, Vice President for Criminal Justice Policy at Right on Crime. “Since we started down this path in 2005, our crime rate is down 34 percent and our incarceration is down 23 percent. At the end of day, the appetizer is saving money, but the main course is public safety, keeping families together, redeeming lives, and putting people in the workforce instead of being a burden to society. Whether its social conservatives or fiscal conservatives, everyone can share our ideas for fixing our justice system and I’m optimistic we’ll continue to see progress.”

The new short film of Governor Reynolds documents her keynote address at a graduation ceremony for incarcerated women who earned their high school equivalencies. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds: “Employers need workers, and the more that we can connect business and industry, and our offenders and our correctional institutions and our policymakers, and collaboratively look for ways that we can help them get successful, and help them re-enter into our communities and to our state  and to their families — everybody wins.”

You can watch the full video of Gov. Reynolds here:

“America was founded by many people who came here for a second chance. I think we’ve always offered that, and I believe in redemption, I believe in opportunity,” said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin in the new film. “I would encourage every elected official — go into our prisons, have a frank and honest and current conversation with people who are incarcerated in your communities, in your states… They’re different colors, they’re different strengths, they’re different thicknesses, but together, they make the mosaic that is the beauty of America, and we need it to be strong.”

You can watch the full video of Gov. Bevin here: