Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mass release of prisoners in UK makes a lot of sense

Good Heavens! Is there anyplace that's NOT straining under overincarceration pressures?

On his way out the door Prime Minister Tony Blair is taking heat for his decision to release 25,000 British prisoners, about a quarter of the national prison population, 18 days earlier than their sentences would otherwise require. Naturally, the press is portraying the move in the most heated manner possible: "More than 25,000 criminals will be handed a 'get out of jail free' card in a desperate attempt to solve the overcrowding crisis," said the London Evening Standard.

But you know what? That approach makes a lot more sense than the way we handle early release decisions here, where the Board of Pardons and Parole has sole discretion when to release anyone who hasn't fulfilled all of their sentence. So in Texas, individual offenders might get out years earlier instead of 18 days if the parole board is under pressure at the time to release more people, as they are right now. Making the decision to identify a class of low-level offenders and reduce their sentences by a short amount across the board makes a lot more sense to me than the haphazard way Texas uses back-end controls to reduce prison overcrowding now, especially as a short-term crisis management measure. Whaddya think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Y'see, there ARE other ways of doing things.

The media here have been trying their best to whip up a frenzy of indignation, but Joe Bloggs on the street seems to be of the opinion that if the inmates arent rehabilitated with just 18 days to go, then nothing more is going to be done for them anyway.

What the media fails to point out is, the beds wont stay empty for long and many of those released will be back inside within a year.

Still, we're willing to give it a try. How about Texas?