recidivism costs Texas citizens many millions of dollars annually, plus untold loss and suffering.
Unfortunately, the state’s budget woes are leading to major cuts in the very programs that help reduce recidivism, suffering and cost. Budget reductions in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have been largely focused on community supervision, parole and programming funds. Even the department’s ability to process new volunteers for work in prison programs has been impaired.
It appears the goose that could lay the golden egg is being killed by short-sighted legislative policy.
There is a better way. Some people need to be locked up to protect society — and many for a very long time. But the tendency of tough-on-crime advocates to lock up more and more people for longer and longer terms for smaller and smaller offenses, while de-emphasizing the programs aiming to rehabilitate inmates and prevent their return to prison, is misguided at best.
As responsible citizens, we all need to demand that our elected representatives take a more rational approach to incarcerating offenders, while retaining or expanding in-prison programming as a humane, recidivism reducing, cost cutting — and presumably tax saving — measure.
Required budget cuts should focus on creating a policy that aims to provide community supervision of offenders who are not a threat to society, incarcerate those who are and rehabilitate them all. And each of us should do our part by participating in or supporting nonprofit programs, such as Bridges To Life, that help restore offenders to the life of a productive, tax-paying citizen.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
'We need rational approach to incarceration'
An op ed in the Amarillo Globe News today by restorative justice advocates with the same title as this post argues for a smarter approach to Texas corrections spending. The column concludes: