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Will the Strange Bedfellow Team of Van Jones and Newt Gingrich Push Congress to Reverse Decades of Criminal Justice and Prison Policy?

The Honorable Newt Gingrich

By Seven Rosenfeld (original source Alternet) 

Washington’s newest unlikely power couple is the head-turning combination of Newt Gingrich, the white-haired former House Speaker and elbows-out Republican, and Van Jones, the African-American racial and environmental justice reformer who became a CNN commentator after a stint as Obama’s green jobs coordinator. They have joined forces as the newest high-profile faces calling for criminal justice reforms, from less harsh sentences for non-violent crimes to cutting the prison population in half.

“I was hardcore on the issue of crime,” Gingrich told a recent summit attended by 400 state legislators, judges, prison system administrators and federal justice officials, saying that the get-tough-on-crime policies that he helped adopt—including a crime bill from President Bill Clinton that led to an explosion of new prisons—have backfired. “There were tremendous unintended consequences. Locking up people for very minor drug offenses destroyed their future. It didn’t teach them a lesson and it didn’t seem to be having any effect on convincing the rest of the community.”

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