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tv   Crime Discussion at CPAC  CSPAN  April 11, 2021 1:13am-1:44am EDT

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thank you so much. i learned a lot. appreciate it. and effective law enforcement. >> all right. >> let's do it.
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>> folks, this may be the only time and place in the country where we are talking about preserving our constitutional rights and not canceling them. this is a panel i have been looking forward to being with her long time. we have with us representative byron -- look, i'm going to tell you, when i saw your name, i was excited. it is needed in congress for sure. we have mark walker, who is running for the senate. we have gabe mclachlan, who i enjoy that irish brogue. these are real, down-to-earth people and people who have been on the front lines of elections. some are strategists. some are running for office. others like myself get to sit back and talk about criminal justice issues on newsmax or on
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bill o'reilly, and now we all come together because we have a passion and an understanding. what is that understanding? it is a different day and age for conservatives running for office and the criminal justice system, so we are going to kick this off. i'm going to start with you, representative. tell me, what does a conservative candidate have to do in order to get elected when it comes to dealing with criminal justice issues? >> i think that's a great question. what you really have to do is make two important acknowledgments. the first is that we must have a criminal justice system that actually punishes and completes the punishment of people who do wrong. [applause] but here's the second part -- hold on, don't clap for me yet. the second part is we also have to acknowledge that people who have broken our laws are still american citizens, and there must be a pathway, a conduit for them to come back into society
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and be citizens once more. [applause] now you can clap. there you go. >> conservatives are about redemption. we are about, you know, remembering that the full human being has worth and has value, and i appreciate that. you spend a lot of time working in elections. tell us what you are seeing in terms of how it is changing with conservatives and criminal justice issues. >> i think it's -- i'm from texas, and in texas, we have a big conservative grassroots, and the grassroots, i think, appreciate how important criminal justice reform is. it is important from the standpoint of just, you know, someone commits a crime, they should pay society.
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they should obviously pay back -- restore anything that they have damaged, you know, make restitution as necessary, but 95% of them are going to come out and be our neighbors, so we can prepare them to be better citizens, or we can let it go like it is going now. generally, it is not as bad in texas as in some states, and prepare them to be better criminals. i think the grassroots gets that. sometimes it's the middle, who are ok with it the way it is. why do we want to mess with it? why fix it? all the conservative reasons criminal justice reform is so important. >> i appreciate the background you gave. you don't have too many former prosecutors as friends.
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>> my friends and i would go to dinner often, and i would say well, i'm not a lawyer, and the senator would say, quit bragging. >> dinner with trey gowdy is never going to be dull. >> know, it is not. >> i think something we cannot miss that is very important is this comes down to the family. the family is god's design. you talk about 95% of those who are incarcerated now will eventually return to society. 600,000 a year. we know close to 400,000 will return, so what is it about conservatives? what is our role to make sure that day one, that we can transition the man and the woman -- a lot of times, it is a father or husband -- back into that? here's what we know -- 60% of all youth suicides come from
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homes with no father. 65% involve drug use. 95% come from a family that has been broken. as conservatives, do we not have some obligation to make that restoration, to do everything we can? the left, they are trying to get on board with criminal justice reform. >> thing about that phrase. they are finally getting on board. >> it has taken time. but here's the major difference -- is that the left is getting involved because they want and believe in the groupthink. they are trying to get this special class of people to follow a more controlled form of government. we as conservative to believe in that independence, and that is our ultimate goal. >> yeah, and that is profound. if you look in the house right now, they spent decades -- decades impacting in a negative way our communities of color,
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using the laws as a sword, and that has done what? what has it accomplished? mass incarceration without thought or policy or data? >> we are all for criminal justice reform. >> i have kind of wanted you to weigh in here after hearing this because if you don't know jim, jim is responsible for at lot of people getting elected, and a lot of conservatives, including one president trump in 2016. right. jim has seen more and is all over the country. i love watching his career unfold and seeing what he does. what are you seeing when it comes to the national dialogue of criminal justice reform and issues with conservative candidates?
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>> i cannot help but think back -- you know, and i'm showing my age here, but listening to this discussion, and it was joe biden who on the senate floor was talking about super predators that we had to lock up and throw away the key. no belief in retention. one of the things we saw on the campaign, and it just happened naturally, and it was one of those very popular donald trump policies, the story of alice johnson. [applause] for those of you that remember alice johnson last year when she was telling her story, if there was ever a story of redemption, it was somebody like alice johnson. why was that story so important? i worked on campaigns went i remember back in the day when it was three strikes and you're out. you had a democrat the next year, conservative democrat ran
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on one strike and you're out. but we've got to look at it from the standpoint of what is best for society, and if you see somebody like alice johnson and her story -- by the way, we found out that it was most impactful to folks in the suburbs, more than urban areas. alice johnson was left rotting away in a prison behind bars. >> alice is a friend to many of us. i have spent time on the phone listening to her passion and what has been born of this, born of her faith, her devotion, and her belief that we can punish, but we can rehabilitate, and they can contribute to society -- and let me just tell you -- i'm proud of the work i did as a prosecutor. i prosecutor the kidnapper of elizabeth smart.
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president obama let me stay in to finish that case, so there are people that you do have to punish and you do have to lock away and we know will do horrible things, but for every one of those guys that i knew or prosecuted, i knew 50, 60 people that i knew if they could just get out and get an opportunity, get some education or a job opportunity, they were not going to commit a crime for the rest of their lives. >> what it is about is -- and i say this all the time, and i travel the country literally meeting with governors and senators -- state senators, state reps, and we worked at the federal level, and last year at cpac, i came out and introduced alice johnson. we got to speak a little about what criminal justice reform from a conservative standpoint looks like. we look at it from the lens of
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public safety. alice agreed 100%, we do not promote anything that will endanger one single person. it is about public safety. it is about restitution, and it is about helping people become better members of society because they are going to come out. if you look at it through all of that and think about the christian values that go with the redemption, it makes so much sense, and the money -- from a fiscal standpoint, we save a lot more money putting people out, then come back to them becoming productive members of society and paying taxes. >> i kind of started thinking about this in church. my pastor said something very important with -- very important one day. he said everybody is six seconds
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away from doing something stupid. when you are in a tough spot, a stressful situation, you are desperate -- people do make bad decisions, but the thing we have to acknowledge -- if you tour some of our great state prisons, what you will see is that in the state-run facilities, the inmates are literally doing nothing, but if you are in the private facilities, they are actually getting different trainings. they get the cdl license, barbering credentials, carpentry credentials, construction credentials. why is this important? because at some point, what are we going to do? give them $50 and a hug? a colleague of mine in the florida legislature would say that. >> you are exactly right. here is where the legislative part is so important. in many places if you have a felony in your background, you
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cannot get an occupational license. those are needed for hvac workers, plumbers, and barbers, as you just mentioned. that it is wife it is so crucial to have an opportunity. the quickest way to create a conservative is to introduce them to the [applause] [applause] market system. that's where the opportunity comes from. -- to the free market system. that's where the opportunity comes from. [applause] >> we can be scorched earth, but we have some responsibility to leave behind some of those principles. >> i learned a valuable bit of data last night talking to colleagues. a bill that passed nearly unanimously is so simple, and that is you cannot use a mug shot until they are convicted.
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only one objection to the whole thing -- mainstream media. they came in with lobbyists and money and power, and they objected, "why?" because they have preyed on the criminal justice system. that's not the case anymore. >> one of the things we were seeing in our research, our polling, was believe it or not, there was a significant section of the electorate, especially in a lot of these close battleground congressional districts, where they like black lives matter and they love their cops, believe it or not. that was the key swing group for us to be able to get, those voters. those are people where i always tell my candidates they want you to keep them safe.
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it is the first, one of the most important priorities of government. they want to be safe, but they want you to do it in a nonthreatening and compassionate manner. >> one of the things people thought of when you talk criminal justice, the automatic assumption is this is a black issue. it's actually not. what we found was the vast majority -- not the vast majority, but the majority of people in our state who wanted their voting rights restored was actually white males. they were the majority. when you look at what our criminal justice system actually does on the other, it breaks down all families, if it's a white family, black family, hispanic family. you cannot continue with a society like ours if you do not start with formation of the family, if it's a man who is in prison or mn on probation. we got to find -- not so much
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we, the rules to the road. the pathway has to allow for it to be more easy for him to get back to his family. that not only helps him, it helps his children. >> we introduced some legislation that still has not arrived called prison to prosperity. named after a book. a guy in north carolina served nine years hard time. god did amazing work in his life, and he talked about the aspect, prison to prosperity. the legislation created apprenticeships that when they are released, that they have that job waiting. of those 600,000 that are released, nearly 400 thousand return, and close to that number a year later do not even have a job. if we have a role in government, which is to reach out to all segments, black or white, then do we not have some responsibility to make sure that citizen has as much chance to be
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productive as anybody else in our society, in our culture? that's where i feel like we can make a difference. >> exactly. that's a great point. [applause] >> i want to ask you, you not only share the same last name and first name of our president, you got to know him in a way. people often ask me, to your point on this, how do you have a president who talks tough about being tough on crime but at the same time puts setbacks. he wanted alice johnson out. tell us why that is the future of the conservative movement in this country? >> they are not all here right now, but as much as guys want to talk about not caring and not empathetic, the president actually has great compassion for all people. coming up the way he did in the
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business world -- [applause] he does. he actually has compassion for a wide array of people. when you are working in construction, friendly, anywhere in our country, you are dealing with lots of people, their struggles,. you have to find a way to work with all that. that's what i said at the very beginning -- that's why i said at the beginning we want to be tough on crime, but you also have to be understanding of, frankly, the condition of the human being and realize that -- look, first of all, we have all fallen short of the glory of god. none of us are perfect. never two, everybody has the redemptive ability within them. if they actually think and believe that the people around them want them to be redeemed. >> we were in the white house, the first step back, the president is there and has brought in individuals that were just incarcerated, and he is
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interacting with them, and you can see genuine compassion and sincerity. my friend, who was a democrat, leaned over and said, oh, man, if the media showed this side of him, we would be in trouble. >> oh, they never do. they never show it. >> and that applies to all conservatives, right? >> van jones was there at a lot of those meetings and a lot of those press conferences that we have with the president in the east room, and it was fun to kind of watch and go at it, but the difference in the left and their movement is they want to "end mass incarceration." what does that even mean? does that mean that there are no prisons? that we are not going to have criminal systems to try people, to punish them if they have done something wrong? i don't even understand what it means. and there's always a segment of society who we are scared of.
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>> we are pretty good that. california, new york, new jersey , harris county in texas, they started issuing pr bonds to dangerous felons. 97 people have been murdered and harris county since 2018. who were out on pr bonds or low cash bail. some of the multiple pr bonds. they go out and murder someone. 97 people potentially would be alive today if they did not take that attitude. >> the message there is balance. conservatives a look at it and they'll use the data in the research. they are not just thinking about an emotional reaction. my friend who is a county attorney in arizona, he is a
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data not. he loves data. he is gathering data. what has he done? he has reduced the number of felonies he has charged by 30% or 40%, but the data on the rising crimes -- it is from the other way. how is that happening? because of strategic application of our criminal justice system with the balance of understanding the human condition. like you said, representative, but for the grace of god, we can all have a bad reaction. >> the human condition is something that vice president kamala harris must have overlooked. [applause] >> i will let you speak on this. >> i learning today we are all 15 seconds away from doing some thing stupid. >> no, you're good. >> some of already crossed that threshold in congress, but that is a different story.
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but i do believe conservatives, the foundation of the way we look at this is we look at all individuals are created in the image of god. that is the process we look at it through. my father was a baptist pastor. -- past -- when i was a young man he served as a chaplain and a minimum security prison. i would go with him and sit on the bunkbeds and see those guys, dirty, they would hug my dad. that's what separates us. i am not saying the left does not care about the community. what they care more about his control. that is what we are seeing even in the discussion of criminal justice reform. it is not so much a hopeful message as a dependency message. that's why was murders and rapists, they want them to get their voting rights back, they want to control the environment. conservative, we can do both. we can push for justice and
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compassion. [applause] >> well said. in one of the things that happens with the democrats is they are so gosh darn political. with them, everything is about inning votes. -- getting votes. when donald trump believes in the redemption of people into follow-up what you are talking about, in terms of -- the media would never show that side of him. but we saw it. you know one of the places we really saw it? during the rnc could then -- convention. after the convention he got a huge bump because this all these people from all walks of life, brown, black, female, that supported this president in one of the big issues they were all talking about is criminal justice reform. do you think joe biden can do this?
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there is no way. he is just capable of doing this. he cannot do it. it took someone like donald trump from the outside, the ozment disruptor, to be able to do this. -- the old but disruptor, to be able to do this. >> this is where politics come in. if you have most of america truly believing that free markets were, that there is a real propensity to build your life from nothing to something, that, yes, you made major missteps in your life at some point but were able to, and i will use joe biden's phrase, build back better. if that is actually demonstrated in our country -- then why the hell would people vote for democrats? the proof is in the pudding. we are the later opportunity. as conservatives -- we are the land of opportunity. as conservatives this is a place where we can say that
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opportunity exist even when you're the worst part of your life. >> i would like to say it is really important what the american conservative union are doing here. they're making this an important subject. turning point usa, charlie kurt does. candace owens. a lot of conservatives are talking about criminal justice reform and putting on stage, on camera, in front of people. it is getting a great reception. he got a great reception at the republican convention. it really is an important subject. it is an opportunity we have to own it as republicans and to take edge to the nation. >> my good friend from law school, been friends for 30 years, is senator mike lee. we have both served together as prosecutors and the federal system. he said he is engaged in
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criminal justice reform not despite being a conservative but because he is a conservative. and because we've seen -- we have seen the criminal justice system -- if you believe big government is inefficient and all other areas except the criminal justice system, you have a rude awakening when you actually pull up the curtain and look what is back there. because there are aspects that are broken and they will only get fixed if conservatives step forward and say, i will do that. is it possible in congress to still do that as a conservative or is it so dysfunctional we will not be able to do that? >> something for six years i made our staff and team answer was this question. is it simply about making the argument or is it also about making a difference?
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in 21st century conservatism, either way you face it, we are challenged now not only to be conservative champions but also to be bridge builders. that is the long game. that is the discipline. we are going to be faced -- what is it going to take for us to engage in a place where we hold the line, we do not compromise our values, yet we have a heart for our communities. being a former pastor, let me give you the two greatest commandments. love your neighbor as yourself. when we can look at this from a conservative filter realizing we are called to be that conservative warrior, but also bridge builder, we can see greater compliments, not just in congress but in the entire country. >> amen. >> we have a couple minutes left. give a real tough issue and that is reforming policing.
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we saw was a democrat solution is. they want to defund it and walk away. and yet i saw senator tim scott for example, he drafted a bill -- it had in their meaningful reform that democrats have been trying to get. no one wants to do it. >> i have been in that place two months now. i got sworn in. the democrats don't care about science or economics. they care about politics. that is the only thing they care about. senator scott's was actually a very good bill. if you sit down with them away from nancy pelosi and start talking to these issues in concrete detail, they actually agree with us. they're like, yeah, that makes sense. but i have to get reelected. but there is real potential i believe going forward to do these things improperly.
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defunding the police is ridiculous. that makes no sense at all. [applause] where not going to do it. -- we are not going to do it. bo has to be acknowledged is that there are room for reforms in policing. but the response ability is not in washington. the response ability is in local communities. police chiefs, sheriffs, and the vast majority of them have started that work without washington playing politics. >> if you look at the fact that both sides are to blame for where we got here. both were during the one upmanship. there are passing more mandatory minimums because it was politically helpful. there's lynn one side that cares now about fixing it. that is the conservative side. last words. >> what it also tells you is, iran is exactly right and it is great we got them -- byron is
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exactly right and it's great we got him in congress, because the solutions are not going to cover washington, though come from places like florida in our local communities. that is where it will come from. >> it was an honor to be here. thank you for paying attention to this issue. [applause] activists strategizing about the

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