Gary Johnson on Crime

Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor

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

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.

Approximately 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

Source: 2012 presidential campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com , Jan 18, 2012

Death penalty as a public policy is flawed

Source: 2012 presidential campaign website, garyjohnson2012.com , Jan 18, 2012

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 Issue

NGA’s Position

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA10 on Sep 14, 2001

Zero tolerance for violence against government employees.

Johnson signed the Western Governors' Association resolution:

  1. America’s communities, schools and workplaces are the building blocks of our peaceful and productive society.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  1. Western Governors unequivocally endorse a zero tolerance for violence throughout our society. We support the use of all legal authority to prevent violence.
  2. 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.
Source: WGA Policy Resolution 01 - 07: Zero Tolerance for Violence 01-WGA07 on Aug 14, 2001

Other candidates on Crime: Gary Johnson on other issues:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
GOP Candidates:
Gov.Mitt Romney(MA)
Rep.Paul Ryan(WI)
Third Party Candidates:
Mayor Rocky Anderson(J)
Roseanne Barr(PF)
Rep.Virgil Goode(C)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L)
Jill Stein(G)

GOP Withdrawals:
Rep.Michele Bachmann(MN)
Herman Cain(GA)
Rep.Newt Gingrich(GA)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
Gov.Sarah Palin(AK)
Rep.Ron Paul(TX)
Gov.Tim Pawlenty(MN)
Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
Gov.Buddy Roemer(LA)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
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Page last updated: Oct 17, 2012