fbpx

PUBLICATIONS

Prisons

THE ISSUE. Prisons serve a critical role in society. In many cases – particularly cases of violent crime – the best way to handle criminal behavior is to incapacitate criminals by incarcerating them. Prisons are supremely important, but they are also a supremely expensive government program, and thus prison systems must be held to the highest standards of accountability.

THE IMPACT. One out of every one hundred adults in America is incarcerated, a total population of approximately 2.3 million. By contrast, according to a report published in The Economist, the number of imprisoned adults in America in 1970 was only one out of every 400. The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but 23% of the world’s reported prisoners. It is not clear, however, that these high rates of imprisonment are leading to safer communities. One study by two professors at Purdue University and Rutgers University has estimated that were we to increase incarceration by another ten percent, the subsequent reduction in crime would be only 0.5%.  The state of Florida provides a useful example.  Over the past thirteen years, the proportion of prisoners who were incarcerated for committing non-violent crimes rose by 189%.  By contrast, the proportion of inmates who committed violent crimes dropped by 28%.

For this benefit, Americans are paying dearly – between $18,000 and $50,000 per prisoner per year depending upon the state. The nation is also reaching a point where it simply does not have the capacity for so much incarceration. In 2009, the number of federal inmates rose by 3.4%, and federal prisons are now 60% over capacity.

These figures are not markers of success. Americans do not measure the success of welfare programs by maximizing the number of people who collect welfare checks. Instead success is evaluated by counting how many people are able to get off welfare. Why not apply the same evaluation to prisons?

THE CONSERVATIVE SOLUTION.

• Understand that to be considered “successful,” a prison must reduce recidivism among inmates.
• Increase the use of custodial supervision alternatives such as probation and parole for nonviolent offenders. In many cases, these programs can also be linked to mandatory drug addiction treatment and mental health counseling that would prevent recidivism. States’ daily prison costs average nearly $79.00 per day, compared to less than $3.50 per day for probation.
• Consider geriatric release programs when appropriate. Approximately 200,000 American prisoners are over the age of fifty. The cost of incarcerating them is particularly high because of their increased health care needs in old age, and their presence has turned some prisons into de facto nursing homes for felons – all funded by taxpayer.
• Consider eliminating many mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent offenses. These laws remove all discretion from judges who are the most intimately familiar with the facts of a case and who are well-positioned to know which defendants need to be in prison because they threaten public safety and which defendants would in fact not benefit from prison time.
• For those instances when prisons are necessary, explore private prison options. A study by The Reason Foundation indicated that private prisons offer cost savings of 10 to 15 percent compared to state-operated facilities. By including an incentive in private corrections contracts for lowering recidivism and the flexibility to innovate, private facilities could potentially not just save money but also compete to develop the most cost-effective recidivism reduction programming.

Second Chances in Minnesota

Thomas Lyons | April 23, 2019
Recently, I had the privilege of travelling to the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Shakopee.  The facility is the only prison in Minnesota used for women.  Located a little bit…

Tennesseans Agree with Governor Lee’s Call for Criminal Justice Reform

Julie Warren | April 8, 2019
Earlier this month, Governor Bill Lee used the State of the State addressto announce details of his criminal justice reform agenda. Underlying this agenda is the intent to make Tennessee…

Oklahoma Poll Reveals Strong Support for Criminal Justice Reform

Right on Crime | April 5, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 5, 2019 CONTACT: Andrew Speno 405-315-5924 aspeno@rightoncrime.com Oklahoma City, OK — A poll commissioned by Right on Crime and conducted by Ascend Perspectives revealed a…

Voters in Four Oklahoma Legislative Districts Signal Strong Support for Criminal Justice Reforms

Right on Crime | April 4, 2019
In new polling of registered voters in four Oklahoma legislative districts conducted for Right on Crime, voters have signaled their belief that there are too many Oklahomans in prison…

Lent: Season for Second Chances

Scott Peyton | March 6, 2019
In most parts of the United States on March 5, it was just another Tuesday.  However, in Louisiana, most state offices, schools and local businesses were closed to celebrate Mardi…

All Talk and No Action: Arizona’s Mandatory Drug Sentencing

Right on Crime | March 5, 2019
Right on Crime’s Greg Glod, Director of State Initiatives, examines Arizona’s broad, and often confusing, mandatory drug sentencing laws. While many mandatory minimum sentencing laws, particularly for drug offenses,…

The Promising Fruits of Louisiana’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Scott Peyton | February 12, 2019
On November 1, 2017, as a part of the criminal justice reforms passed by the legislature that year, nearly 2,000 individuals were to be released from Louisiana correctional facilities.…

Congress Passes Landmark Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Right on Crime | December 20, 2018
First Step Act Is Biggest Federal Criminal Justice Reform in Decades Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 358 to 36 to pass the revised version of…

Right on Crime Applauds Senate Passage of Landmark Criminal Justice Reform

Right on Crime | December 18, 2018
First Step Act Would Usher In Biggest Federal Criminal Justice Reform in Decades Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. Senate passed the First Step Act by a vote of…

Judge Scott Schlegel – A Legal Rebel With A Cause

Elain Ellerbe | December 18, 2018
In the 24th Judicial District located in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Judge Scott Schlegel created and presides over one of the most progressive and innovative criminal courts—though Judge Schlegel is quick…

Right on Crime Commends Leader McConnell for Taking up the First Step Act

Right on Crime | December 11, 2018
First Step Act Would Bring About Biggest Federal Criminal Justice Reform in Decades Washington, DC — Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he will bring the First…

No Need to Wait, Law Enforcement Already Supports First Step Act

Randy Petersen | December 7, 2018
The First Step Act is coming up against the clock.  For everyone observing its evolution into the largest criminal justice reform package in a generation and its growing bipartisan…
Connect With Right on Crime
STAY Informed:
www.scriptsell.net