Whether it is criminal justice reform, taxation, or education, we must work to improve our policy culture towards greater prosperity for Rhode Island families. It is time to challenge the status quo mindset, and to search for a more holistic path to help real Rhode Islanders improve their quality of life. We must make helping families the focus of our public policy and private advocacy. This week, the RI Senate unanimously passed SMART ON CRIME LEGISLATION called the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). We believe that the Rhode Island House should act on this legislation after removing an anti-gun provision.
New national research shows that Rhode Island ranked just 48th on the 2016 Family Prosperity Index (FPI). In December 2016, our Center in conjunction with our national partner, the American Conservative Union, issued a 52-page RI Family Prosperity report that highlighted contributing factors to our state’s poor rankings across 57 indexes. Among other discussions, the report suggests that Rhode Island has room to modernize and improve its criminal justice system. Reforms put forth as part of the state’s JRI, and by other organizations can help provide more opportunity for upward mobility and prosperity for Ocean State families.
The JRI bills are not about letting violent, career criminals off the hook. Rather, this is about reining in over-zealous incarceration and probation policies by protecting some individuals and ex-offenders from the potential destruction of their future capacity to lead a productive life for themselves and their families. Many families seeking upward mobility and prosperity must first break the cycle of incarceration. The Ocean State’s criminal justice system is in serious need of reform. Stable families play a critical role in society thus helping our overall national ranking and improving family well-being.
Elected officials saying things are getting better in Rhode Island is not enough, they must take action. We need action on ideas like criminal justice reform. Unless our state adopts the proven family friendly reforms that can transform our state, we will continue to see the negative trends continue. We support the principles of the JRI. This legislation will modernize RI’s over-burdened probation system. By speaking out on the issues that impact Rhode Island family, you can make a powerful statement to the insiders that you have had enough. Now is the time to be bold, and have our public policy culture make a complete turnaround.