Gary Johnson on Crime
Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor
Stop & frisk isn't constitutional
Trump: In New York City, we had 2,200 murders and stop and frisk brought it down to 500 murders. Five hundred murders is a lot of murders. Hard to believe 500 is like supposed to be good?
But we went from 2,200 to 500 and it was continued on by Mayor Bloomberg.˙
And it was terminated by our current mayor. But stop and frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City.
Americans believe in the Constitution and the protections it's supposed to provide. Mr. Trump appears willing to 'frisk' those protections away if they get in the way of his version of fixing things.
Source: 3rd-party commentary on First 2016 Presidential Debate
, Sep 26, 2016
What are some local police doing that others aren't?
Q: Is there any role for government in lessening the frequency of mass shootings?
JOHNSON: Absolutely, and the role of government would be at the local level. And from a national standpoint: What's working? What's not working?
What big communities in this country have the best incidence of police- the least incidence of police brutality, shooting, and what are they doing that others aren't?
What's the consistency or what are the common threads in areas with the most shootings? And I am also coming from New Mexico, where Albuquerque has just had unbelievable incidents.
They might be at the top of the list when it comes to shooting and size of community.
Q: And how about the role for the Justice Department civil rights division?
Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld
, Jul 7, 2016
Men of color four times as likely to end up behind bars
Q: Libertarians haven't traditionally embraced the Black Lives Matter movement. Would you and why?
JOHNSON: Yes. Well, I do. And I'll come back to the drug war. If you're of color, there's a four times more likelihood that you'll end up behind bars
than if you're not of color. And I think so much of "shoot first" has its roots in the drug war. Knock the door down and shoot. We'd like to bring an end to the drug war, and by that treat the issue as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue.
Source: CNN Libertarian Town Hall: joint interview of Johnson & Weld
, Jun 22, 2016
Too many unnecessary laws leads to too many in prison
How is it that the land of the free has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world? The answer is simple: Over time, the politicians have "criminalized" far too many aspects of people's personal lives.
The failed War on Drugs is, of course,
the greatest example. More generally, mandatory minimum sentences for a wide range of offenses and other efforts by politicians to be "tough" have removed far too much common-sense discretion from judges and prosecutors.
These factors, combined with
the simple fact that we have too many unnecessary laws, have produced a society with too many people in our prisons and jails, too many undeserving individuals saddled with criminal records, and a seriously frayed relationship between law enforcement and
those they serve.
Fortunately, a growing number of state governments are taking steps toward meaningful criminal justice reform. The federal government must do the same, and Johnson is committed to bringing real leadership to this long-overdue effort.
Source: 2016 presidential campaign website GaryJohnson2016.com
, Jan 11, 2016
Vetoed early release of prisoners due to overcrowding
As governor, a highly-publicized bill was coming through the legislature, which would have allowed early release of prisoners due to overcrowding. When the bill passed, I vetoed it.
Some representatives (including a few who were potential allies for me) were outraged because it made them look soft on criminals.
Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p.113-114
, Aug 1, 2012
Vetoed hate crime legislation as thought-crime
I believe that every time you pass a law you take a little bite out of freedom. I vetoed 750 bills as governor because I abhor the government spending money on programs that show no improvement in our lives and criminalize actions that do not warrant
criminalization. I vetoed "hate crime legislation" that literally scares me to death because it prosecutes thoughts, not actions.
Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 28
, Aug 1, 2012
Built private prisons to replace out-of-state prisoners
When asked what I thought my biggest achievements in office were, I answered:
Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 42
, Aug 1, 2012
- We have reduced taxes by $123 million annually.
- We reformed Medicaid and got Medicaid costs under control.
- We built a couple of new, private prisons in NM. We had prisoners housed out of state, and the federal court system had been running prisons in NM under a consent decree since 1980. We are now out from under that consent decree.
Private prisons cost $20 less/day than public control
The single biggest issue in NM was the prison system. The courts had ruled that NM prisons were woefully incompetent to carry out their functions. A consent decree forced the federal government to oversee the state facilities.
700 prisoners from NM were being housed out of state due to prison wing closures resulting from federal oversight. This put prisons at the forefront of my agenda. The NM legislature did not want to address the prison issue.
It had become an enormously expensive and embarrassing situation.
I figured that if we went to a privatized system, we wouldn't have to come up with the funds and it would cost only 2/3 of what it was costing the state.
Public control of the prisons
cost about $76/prisoner/day, and private control cost about $56/prisoner/day. We were able to provide the same services and still run the prisons with those significant savings. The system is still running that way today.
Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 66-67
, Aug 1, 2012
DNA evidence shows many people are mistakenly convicted
When I was younger, I supported capital punishment. I changed my mind because I recognized that the risks and costs associated with the death penalty are too high.
I understand the eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth mentality but, realistically public policy should have room for mistakes. Killing one innocent person who was wrongly accused is not worth executing 99 guilty people.
DNA evidence and judicial appeals have shown many people are mistakenly convicted.
The death penalty is flawed public policy and its consequences are irreversible.
Plus, the financial cost of capital punishment (mostly legal fees) is several times greater for taxpayers than keeping someone in prison for life.
Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 70-71
, Aug 1, 2012
1994: Proponent of death penalty, but willing to debate it
In 1994 Gary Johnson was elected NM Governor, campaigning as a strong proponent of the death penalty. [Over the years], Johnson has altered his position [but here are his early views]:
Source: 2012 presidential campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com
, Jan 18, 2012
- 1996: Johnson said that he would favor the death penalty for
children as young as 13 and 14 in some circumstances.
- 1997: The House approves Johnson's bill to expand the death penalty to include child killers and multiple murders, and drive-by killings.
- 1998: Johnson again asks for a two-year cap on death row
appeals. He stated that be believed "when you have a certainty of punishment being given, that acts as a deterrent."
- 2000 : Johnson again voices his support for the death penalty saying that "if you have committed murder, I happen to believe that you
should pay for that with your own life."
- 2001: A Johnson aid states that the Governor will not impose a moratorium, but may be willing to take part in public debate on the issue of capital punishment stating that "his eyes are open."
Death penalty as a public policy is flawed
Johnson has altered his position on the death penalty--this chronology attempts to understand why Johnson has become less supportive:
Source: 2012 presidential campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com
, Jan 18, 2012
- Oct. 2001: Johnson states, "Swift and sure punishment deters crime," Johnson wrote. "Currently, I do not believe
that New Mexico's death penalty serves as an effective preventative measure because it is neither swift or sure."
- Oct. 2001: Johnson writes, "Those opposed to the death penalty point out the disparities that exist with regard to individuals receiving
the death penalty sentence. They argue persuasively that these disparities are a result of several factors including prosecutorial discretion as well as racial and economic discrimination."
- Dec. 2001: Governor Johnson states that he will place the
repeal bill on the agenda if requested to do so. He also said that he was wrong to propose limits on death row appeals.
- Jan. 2002: Johnson states that he has "come to believe that the death penalty as a public policy is flawed."
Don't risk putting innocent to death
Q: You oppose the death penalty. Why?
A: As governor of New Mexico, I was a bit na‹ve and I did not think the government made mistakes with regard to the death penalty.
I came to realize that they do. I don't want to put one innocent person to death to punish 99 who are guilty.
Source: Interview by Scott Holleran on scottholleran.com blog
, Aug 21, 2011
Half of crime is drug-related; legalizing drugs cuts crime
Q: Your many opponents believe that legalization would exacerbate the problem. First, they say more people would do drugs if they were legal.
A: Kids who have been surveyed say it's easier to get illegal drugs than beer. The evidence shows that more
people won't do drugs if they're legal. Holland, where marijuana is decriminalized and controlled, has 60% of the drug use--both hard drugs and marijuana--the US has. They have a quarter the crime rate, a quarter the homicide rate, a quarter the violent
crime rate and a tenth the incarceration rate. It suggests that more people don't do drugs because they're legal. But let's just say that the number of users would go up: I still would say it was worthwhile. Look at the trade-off.
Q: What trade-off?
Half of all crime is drug-related. Half. Half of what we spend--on law enforcement, on the courts, on prisons--is drug-related. If we legalized drugs, we would destroy the environment that allows and even encourages all those crimes.
Source: David Sheff interview in Playboy Magazine
, Jan 1, 2001
Supports flexible federal block grants for crime programs.
Johnson adopted the National Governors Association position paper:
The major crime issues for the 107th Congress will be:
- reauthorization of the juvenile justice program, which established a block grant to states for prevention and delinquency intervention programs;
- reauthorization of programs in the 1994 crime bill, including the state criminal alien assistance program (SCAAP), a reimbursement program to state and local governments for housing illegal alien prisoners;
- the state prison grants program, formally known as the Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth-in-Sentencing (VOI/TIS) grant program, [where states receive funds based on increasing the percentage of prison sentences actually served]; and
- the Byrne block grant program, a flexible block grant that states use for innovative crime and illegal drug fighting programs.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA10 on Sep 14, 2001
- NGA policy calls for reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (JJDPA)
and supports the underlying principles of the act. However, NGA wants some flexibility in the core requirements, e.g., allowing some accidental contact between adults and juveniles; expanding the hours before removal from 24 hours to 48 hours; holding certain incorrigible juveniles in detention; and relaxing the disproportionate minority confinement record keeping process. The Governors urge maximum flexibility to implement the spirit and purpose of the act.
- The Governors support authorization of the juvenile accountability incentive block grant (JAIBG) program.
- The Governors also support reauthorization of SCAAP and seek to raise the reimbursement ratio.
- For the Byrne block grant program, NGA seeks to continue the current program with flexibility.
- For the state prison grants program, NGA seeks to abolish all requirements and have more flexibility, with the state designating the offender population to be served.
Zero tolerance for violence against government employees.
Johnson signed the Western Governors' Association resolution:
- America’s communities, schools and workplaces are the building blocks of our peaceful and productive society.
- It is the obligation of governments to ensure citizens and visitors in our nation are protected from violence and do not feel threatened by it.
- Employees of the federal, state and local governments, including public land managers, are sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully discharge the duties of their offices. Government employees are working men and women with families who, as our neighbors, contribute to the communities in which they live.
GOVERNORS’ POLICY STATEMENT
Source: WGA Policy Resolution 01 - 07: Zero Tolerance for Violence 01-WGA07 on Aug 14, 2001
- Western Governors unequivocally endorse a zero tolerance for violence throughout our society. We support the use of all legal authority to prevent violence.
- Western Governors unequivocally endorse a zero tolerance for violence directed specifically against government employees. The Western Governors express their appreciation for all of the contributions that government employees have made and continue to make to the states and communities in which they live.
Page last updated: Jan 07, 2019