Dayan and Teles write
ew people have done as much to subvert the conservative orthodoxy on crime as Pat Nolan, a former California state legislator who now works at the jailhouse ministry Prison Fellowship. Called “the most important person to make any of this happen” by Julie Stewart of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Nolan has been so effective as a revisionist precisely because he was weaned on the traditional politics of law and order.
... As a Republican California state assemblyman in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, Nolan helped push through some of the nation’s most draconian sentencing laws. While he did visit prisons to investigate conditions there, he recalls, “I was very much the ‘We need more prisons’ type.”
That changed after Nolan got to see prison from the other side of the bars.
It is too easy to find examples of conservatives who discover that they had no empathy concerning one issue (and who don't re-examine any of their other beliefs). Clearly the true challange is to find convservatives who changed their mind due to evidence without having a personal stake in their new position.