What do Republicans Brian Kemp of Georgia and Ron DeSantis of Florida have in common with Democrats Gavin Newsom of California and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan?
They all won their reelection this November after signing into law effective public safety reforms to make their states more safe amid public concern about rising crime.
Public safety remained one of the most pressing issues in the midterm elections, and much has been written about how tough-on-crime tactics lost. Despite an avalanche of ads blaming a rise in crime on recently passed criminal justice reforms, voters put their trust into solutions-driven leaders—not one political party or ideology of liberalism or conservatism. The ads did not propose actual policies to reduce crime, and in general, Americans rejected these scare tactics, including the criminalization of Black and brown lives.
They did this because voters understand what criminal justice reform is and is not. It’s not a blue or red political football; it’s about protecting lives and communities. Even amid unprecedented inflation, anxiety, and health challenges, in the 2022 midterms, the voters in their wisdom supported those embarking on clear and humane prescriptions.
Those prescriptions included probation and parole reform. People on probation and parole make up the largest part of our criminal justice system, far surpassing the number of people in our prisons and jails. And at its worst, probation and parole ends up needlessly incarcerating people for non-law-breaking. Technical violations like being late to a parole meeting because you were caring for an elderly parent or crossing state lines to pick up a child from school can land people in prison and trap them in a vicious cycle of incarceration and poverty.
The elected officials who understand this include potential 2024 presidential candidate and Florida Governor DeSantis. He overhauled the state’s probation system to improve success rates for people on probation, safely shortening probation terms and providing remote platforms to report to probation officers.
The result has been expanding freedom to Floridians, so it’s no surprise DeSantis cruised to victory on November 8 with a 20-point victory.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, home to the largest supervision population in the country, Governor Kemp signed legislation creating a pathway for early termination for people who have exemplified rehabilitation after serving three years of probation. He, too, was reelected.
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