Newt Gingrich on Crime

Former Republican Representative (GA-6) and Speaker of the House


On Ferguson: stop when a policeman tells you to stop

Q: Your reaction to the recent police shootings of young unarmed black men?

GINGRICH: First, I think we do need criminal justice reform. The system doesn't work right. We have people locked up who shouldn't be. We tear apart communities that need young men to be able to go back home. So, I think we need serious hearings at the federal level. Second, there has to be some recognition--and this will probably get me in trouble--young people should be told, when a policeman tells you to stop, stop. There's a dual requirement here. You have the first African-American president. You have an African-American attorney general. And six years into their effort, we're in some ways further apart. That's a tragic failure of leadership. The community has to respect the police. And the police have to respect the community. And both have failed.

Q: Are you saying that this is the fault of Barack Obama?

GINGRICH: I'm saying that the president and attorney general use language which is divisive.

Source: Face the Nation 2015 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jan 4, 2015

Supports Prison Fellowship InnerChange Freedom Initiative

The Prison Fellowship program creates a faith-based center of commitment and activity aimed at changing the prisoner's outlook on life. Its results have been impressive. The graduates of Prison Fellowship's InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) in Texas found that they were two times less likely to be rearrested.

You don't have to believe in the power of faith to appreciate the benefits IFI provides to the community: fewer victims, safer neighborhoods, reduced court cases, and fewer prisoners.

Many government officials find a faith-based solution unacceptable. They would rather have people commit more crimes and do more prison time than risk changing their lives with a faith-based approach.

Source: Real Change, by Newt Gingrich, p.214-216 , Dec 18, 2007

3-strike laws are constitutional; enforce courts compliance

Anyone who thinks the various decisions of the Supreme Court are not adequately worrisome need only look at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to see how far the Left-liberals will go and how domination by secular Left-liberal judges will change America. When a court is reversed this often, it clearly fails to meet the “good behavior” test of the Constitution. The good behavior test should be enforced. It would certainly focus the Ninth Circuit’s attention on survival rather than radicalism.
Source: Winning the Future, by Newt Gingrich, p. 58-60 , Oct 1, 2005

Criminal wealth corrupts police and politicians

As international criminals of all types become wealthier and more sophisticated, they can corrupt law enforcement, politicians, and to some extent an entire society. As Mark Bowden illustrated in his book Killing Pablo--about the hunt for the billionaire cocaine lord Pablo Escobar in Medellin, Colombia--Escobar's wealth made him a local folk hero and bought him protection from the police. It took 3 years to track him down even though the Colombian & American governments knew he was somewhere in Medellin.
Source: Winning the Future, by Newt Gingrich, p. 9 , Oct 1, 2005

Prisoners should work and study; not have gyms

We should establish that prisoners should work 48 hours a week and study 12 hours a week. Numerous people in poor neighborhoods say that the young men in their areas refer to prison as "vacation time." They eat better, bulk up.

Prison in its current form is more an inconvenience than a deterrent. We should eliminate all weight and muscle-building rooms and break down the cult of macho behavior in prison. Prisoners should be learning job skills and doing penance. We must reclaim the prisons just as we must reclaim the streets.

They key is to focus our attention on violent people and not be drawn off into emotionally satisfying detours that harass the honest citizen but have no impact on crime.

Source: Renew America, by Newt Gingrich, p.205 , Jul 2, 1996

Convert decommissioned military bases into prisons

Gingrich favors tenant ownership of public housing. But he goes further. He would end public housing. He would create enterprise zones with tax breaks for those who create jobs. He would crack down on deadbeat dads. He would make it tough on criminals by raising the odds that will get caught committing a crime. As for prisons, any decommissioned military base would be sufficient to pick up the slack.
Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 56 , Jun 1, 1995

Lock up violent criminals until they're too old for violence

Crime is not a hard problem. We simply lock up violent criminals until they're too old to be violent. That means fewer welfare workers and more police officers and prosecutors and prisons.
--"The Life of the Party," Policy Review. Winter 1990
Source: Quotations from Speaker Newt, by A.&P. Bernstein, p.125 , Jan 1, 1995

No more endless appeals; make death penalty credible

Our "Contract" will make the death penalty real--no more endless appeals. Under current law, there are virtually no limits or restrictions on when prisoners can file habeas corpus appeals. For example, defendants can appeal any time there is a change in the law or a new Supreme Court ruling. Delays of up to 14 years are not uncommon, making abuse of the habeas corpus system the most significant factor in states' inability to implement credible death penalties.
Source: Contract With America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 37&44 , Dec 26, 1994

Fewer appeals; more prisons; victim restitution

Our "Contract with America" calls for tough punishment for those who prey on society. For too long, Washington has refused to get tough--and even when they sound tough, there are always loopholes that favor the criminal, not the victims. Our "Contract" will make the death penalty real--no more endless appeals.

We will cut the "pork" in the recently passed crime bill in order to build real prisons, and we will require criminals to serve their sentences, not have them back on the street to terrorize again and again. And to make criminals more accountable, we will force them to pay full restitution to their victims or the victims' families.

And to those who commit felonies with guns, let us be particularly clear: We will require 10 years in jail, minimum, no exceptions.

Source: Contract With America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 37 , Dec 26, 1994

Limit habeus corpus appeals; too many frivolous petitions

Under current law, there are virtually no limits or restrictions on when prisoners can file habeas corpus appeals. For example, defendants can appeal any time there is a change in the law or a new Supreme Court ruling. Current law favors the convicted criminal. For example, the recently enacted crime legislation included a requirement that at least TWO lawyers be appointed to represent the defendant at every stage of the process.

Originally designed as a remedy for imprisonment without trial, it is now a tool for federal and state defendants who have been convicted and exhausted all direct appeals. Critics of the current habeas corpus process argue that

  1. most petitions are totally lacking in merit,
  2. thousands upon thousands of frivolous petitions clog the federal district court dockets each year, and
  3. it allows prisoners on death row to almost indefinitely delay their punishment.
Source: Contract With America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 44 , Dec 26, 1994

Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment.

Amendment to replace death penalty crimes in the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill with life imprisonment.
Bill HR 4092 ; vote number 1994-107 on Apr 14, 1994

More prisons, more enforcement, effective death penalty.

Gingrich wrote the Contract with America:

[As part of the Contract with America, within 100 days we pledge to bring to the House Floor the following bill]:

The Taking Back Our Streets Act:
An anti-crime package including stronger truth in sentencing, “good faith” exclusionary rule exemptions, effective death penalty provisions, and cuts in social spending from this summer’s crime bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools.
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA4 on Sep 27, 1994

Other candidates on Crime: Newt Gingrich on other issues:
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Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
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George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
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Page last updated: Oct 28, 2021