NRA Prisons, 3-Strikes Laws 'Gave Us a Headache'

'Mother Jones' takes CrimeStrike program to task

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 9, 2013 4:58 PM CST

(Newser) – Wayne LaPierre tossed off a line at the Senate gun-control hearings: "We've supported prison building." In fact, the NRA backed stricter sentencing and more prisons in a perfect storm of lobbying that Mother Jones says led to a larger and harsher culture of incarceration in America. It began when the NRA, cash-poor in the early 1990s, launched a program called CrimeStrike to promote its prison agenda. "Our prisons are overcrowded," said LaPierre. "Our bail laws are atrocious. We'll be the bad guy."

NRA ads slammed President Clinton for cutting federal prison construction and offered a fix: "Tell them you want a crime bill with $8 billion more to build prisons, or you don't want their crime bill at all!" When the dust had settled, prison-construction money rose threefold federally and increased in states thanks in part to NRA funding. What's more, the NRA backed three-strikes laws that passed in Washington and California, leading to prison overcrowding, higher taxpayer bills, and talk of inhumane conditions. Otherwise, says Mother Jones, "All that's left of the NRA's prison-building arm 20 years later is a television show by the same name."

National Rifle Association Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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