Ep. 30: Criminal Justice Reform with Stephen Lusk

Listen to Episode 30 on Criminal Justice and Labor Unions

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Episode Description

Stephen Lusk is a Young Voices Advocate and senior Marketing major at Mississippi State University, where he serves as the Chapter President for Young Americans for Liberty. He has written multiple articles for RealClearPolicy and Y’all Politics. Today we discuss his upcoming article on Mississippi’s censorship of books from two prisons. Additionally, we cover his article on the decline of labor unions around the country. Be sure to tune in for a thought-provoking conversation.

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Show Notes (abridged script)

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Criminal Justice & Incarceration

RealClearPolicy Article: Mississippi Prisons’ Censorship of Books

Big House Books is a non-profit organization that will send books directly to prisoners after receiving a request. However, a few of the prisons in Mississippi were sending the packages back to the organization. Stephen decided to investigate this a little more and found that even the Mississippi Department of Corrections was unaware of this problem.

“People who are in prison—to not only get square with society, but also to better themselves so that they don’t go back to prison—were being restricted in such a manner to harbor their personal growth.” ~ Stephen Lusk

The reason for not allowing the books to get to the prisoners was the guards’ fear of the parcels including contraband. However, the organization was told that they could ship religious literature to the prisons still.

“I believe there are around 10,000 books banned in Texas Prisons…one title that stuck out to me was Freakonomics.” ~ Stephen Lusk

Education’s Impact on Recidivism

“The more education a prisoner receives, the greater their personal value proposition is and the greater their human capital is upon release.” ~ Stephen Lusk

The economy also has a significant impact on employment after release. When the economy is performing well it is easier for prisoners to find employment. However, when it is not performing well, it is much harder for prisoners, especially, to find work.

Incarceration’s Impact on Employment After Release

Prisoners become institutionalized and feel out of step with society when they are released. They often do not have the opportunities and means in prison to improve their employability. Prisons release many people without giving them the necessary skills to succeed after getting “square with the house.”

There are also programs, like tax credits, that encourage businesses to hire formerly incarcerated people.

“Pell grants were actually available for prisoners up until the mid-1990s when the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed.” ~ Stephen Lusk

President Obama partially reinstated this program in 2015, a move that had a tremendously positive response from the public.

Cost-Effectiveness of Prison Reform

If a person can avoid going back to jail later in life, then that government support for education is a positive net benefit.

“I greatly applaud the work of any non-profit that seeks make sure that prisoners are well educated sans release.” ~ Stephen Lusk

It would be ideal, Stephen says, if more private citizens were willing to take action to help.

Education Prior to Sentencing

“I think back to a quote I saw a while ago, ‘He who opens a school door closes a prison.'” ~ Stephen Lusk

By educating people we keep them out of harm, and hence, out of prison.

The Decline of Big Labor

One of Stephen’s Articles for RealClearPolicy

Stephen focused on some of the reasons labor unions are declining. He found a poll saying that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel that unions do not represent themselves. Sometimes it is just more cost-efficient to not join.

“Just by not joining a Union one can save enough money to afford an entire month’s rent.” ~ Stephen Lusk

Right to work laws have also been instrumental in the decline of unions. Such laws allow people the freedom to associate with a union if they please. They ban the “closed shop” workplaces that facilitate the growth of unions. Wisconsin instituted Right to Work a few years ago and has seen an abundance of jobs. So much so that they can’t fill the jobs.

“As of right now, 28 states have passed right to work.” ~ Stephen Lusk

The Spread of Right to Work Laws

Wisconsin is one of the most industrialized and unionized states. So the fact that Right to Work was passed there is very significant and shows how likely it is to spread farther across the country.

Additionally, Stephen mentions a study from the Cato Institute. You can find it here.

Stephen’s Campus Activism

Stephen is the Chapter President for Young Americans for Liberty on Mississippi’s campus and helped on Governor Gary Johnson’s 2016 Libertarian Presidential bid. He also discusses Mississippi State University’s green rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Stephen also partnered with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to bring Lily Tang Williams to campus.

“Lily gave a terrific testimony about coming to America and discovering freedom and individualism.” ~ Stephen Lusk

Find Stephen on Twitter! @LuskBrand

Bills with Luke Scorziell does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice or recommendations. This material is solely intended for educational purposes based on publicly available information and may change at any time. Additionally, this article’s content is a summary of the Interviewee’s comments and, while rephrased by the Author, are not from the Author himself.

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About Luke Scorziell

Mr. Scorziell created The Edge of Ideas when he was 15 years old. After a few years of blogging he found a passion for podcasting and now regularly has guests on his show, Bills with Luke Scorziell. Find out more about Luke and his unique journey. Feel free to send Luke a message below.

Previous Episodes

Ep. 29: The College Echo Chamber with Michael J. Hout

Ep. 28: Trump on DACA, Chain Migration, Catch and Release, and more

Ep. 27: Austin Petersen, Republican Candidate for Missouri’s Senate Seat

Ep. 25: The Rise of Bitcoin with Daniel LaCalle

Ep. 24: How to Make a Tax Bill with Arpit Chaturvedi

Ep. 23: New Laws in California and Britain’s Holiday Health Crisis

Ep. 22: An In-Depth History of Net Neutrality

Ep. 21: How the New Tax Bill Will Change Business Taxes

Ep. 20: How the New Tax Bill Will Affect You

Ep. 19: Timothy Keller, Managing Attorney of the Institute for Justice’s Arizona Office

Ep. 17 & 18: Ep. 17: Daniel LaCalle, Author of Escape from the Central Bank Trap

Ep. 16: Countable CEO and Founder, Bart Myers

Ep. 15: The RAISE Act Part 1

Bills Ep. 14: Arpit Chaturvedi (Pt. 2)

Bills Ep. 13: Arpit Chaturvedi, Editor-in-Chief of the Cornell Policy Review (Pt. 1)

Bills Ep. 12: Timothy Buck, Co-Founder of Read A Bill

Bills Ep. 11: Privacy and Police Body Cameras Part Two

Bills Ep. 10: Privacy and Police Body Cameras Part One

Bill Ep 9: The Campus Free Speech Act Part 2

Bills Ep. 8: A doctor’s perspective on school start times

Bills Ep. 7: Giving Kids the Chance to Dream with Irena Keller


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