A grassroots effort to roll back mandatory prison sentences — based on such conservative principles as less government and personal responsibility — appears to be gaining momentum by winning changes in several states and following a similar trend in Washington.

The effort is being led in part by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which spearheaded efforts in 2007 to reform its home state’s criminal justice policy.

Those efforts, in turn, led several years ago to the foundation starting the Right on Crime Project.

The project has since been part of recent, successful efforts in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina to reform their systems through such changes as reducing penalties for low-level drug possessions; expanding the use of time- and cost-efficient drug courts; using money once earmarked for prisons to improve law-enforcement strategies and expanding community-based programs for offenders, including treatment.