Thursday, January 29, 2009

States struggling to pay incarceration costs

Two must-read articles on the politics of over-incarceration during a budget crunch:
The piece, in particular, includes great examples of methods being tried in other states to reduce incarceration costs. I was especially interested in this idea for improving probation:
In Arizona, the Republican Legislature teamed up with Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, a former prosecutor who was tapped for President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, to approve a program that rewards counties whose recidivism rate is significantly reduced. Kansas approved a similar program two years ago. Arizona’s program includes incentives for people on probation; they can reduce their sentences by 20 days for each month they comply with court-ordered conditions of their probation, such as making child-support payments and undergoing therapy.

Barbara Broderick, chief probation officer in Maricopa County, Ariz., said earned time credits for probationers provide a carrot-and-stick approach that previously focused only on sending delinquent offenders to jail or prison.

“What I didn’t have,” she told, “is the option to say, ‘Work with me. Lead a law-abiding life. Do the things the court has ordered."

Lots of other good suggestions in both these pieces.


Anonymous said...

Grits, this link is very interesting.

Anonymous said...

What's new with this NOT YOUR FAULT theory?
The liberal left has been trying to force law abiding citizens to DEEP THROAT the notion that no one is responsible for their choices GOOD or BAD...
Makes me want to throw up, seems ther is no reason to be a good person! You will have to foot the bill for others continued criminal lifestyle, poor mistreated low lifes.....Ugh

Gritsforbreakfast said...

5:41, I have no idea what you're talking about. Can you point to anything in either of these two stories that says "no one is responsible for their choices," or are you just mumbling to yourself in front of others about unrelated topics?

Anonymous said...

I'm all in favor of probation that works. Nothing wrong with rewarding someone in non monitary ways for being a successful citizen and following court orders.

A very long time ago, a child that misbehaved was spanked. Modern child rearing methods avoid spanking, instead children who behave receive love and rewards.

Seems like a good way to run a probation department to me. The fact that most probationers are grown doesn't change the fact that their behavior may have been out of control, just like a child's.

Anonymous said...

5:41: I understand your desire to punish your fellow man for every one of his shortcomings. It's the Old Testament way. My question to you is therefore: what do you want to cut out of the state budget in order to satisfy your desire to punish? Education? Health care for children? Transportation and infrastructure maintenance? There are many other state services which are susceptible to "trimming." Maybe you can come up with a service provided by the state government which we can all do without. . .Thanks in advance for your answer.

Anonymous said...

I'd ask this question on a more appropriate forum but I see a few of our TYC employees have acted, and continue to act like fools on your blog. It makes me sick.

My question is this: what happened with that proposal to move TYC and TJPC under a new committee that dealt strictly with Juvenile Justice? I saw that Maddens "Corrections" committee retained the nod, but what actually happened there? I thought it was a good idea to seperate juvenile justice from adult corrections, so I really don't understand. Do you have any insight?

Anonymous said...

No body is saying that the "criminals" shouldn't be punished for their actions. What everyone is suggesting is that we find a way to punish these "criminals" without sacrificing education and healthcare! The very suggestions in those two articles are to give these "criminals" a reason to be a good person! When you reward these "low lifes" with reduced probation time etc, if gives them incentives to be a good person. Also helps the state out by reducing the cost of having to monitor these "low lifes."

Do you think that continuing to pay taxes to house these "criminals" who can either contribute to our society or they can be a burden to their own families instead of yours and mine, is smart? Sounds like you may come a money tree as you don't mind footing the bill to house these low lifes. I don't even understand how you arrived at the theory of having to foot the bill for the continued criminal lifestyle; as both articles gives solutions as to how we would no longer have to foot the bill, or shorten the length of time we are having to foot the bill.

You make ME want to throw up!

"Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone."

Anonymous said...

It really isnt rocket science, there are so many other options being tried all around the world right now, Texas could pick and choose whichever it wanted based on someone else's tests and results. Perhaps that was the idea all along, to wait for someone else to come up with a good way of incarcerating offenders and then TX just jump on the tail end of it?

What really confuses me is people who complain that thier tax dollars are going towards prison upkeep costs and incarceration costs. Those are usually the same people who want to incarcerate more people for longer periods. Yet they very rarely offer any ideas of their own on how the state can ballance the books to their liking. I suspect that they would just rather not pay any tax at all, and are taking out their frustrations on the people most visible (the offenders), and yet would they employ an ex-inmate who was trying to find a job? Would they rent out a home to an ex-inmate and their family? Would they even be OK with living next door to an ex-inmate? Somehow I doubt it. These complainers are, in my opinion, the most destructive of any society, because they refuse to offer any help or solutions to the problem that they themselves help to create.

Anonymous said...

Instead of vengeance and punishment why can't reconciliation between perpetrator and victim and society be the goal? This country's thirst for vengeance has gotten, simply put, too expensive.

Anonymous said...


What do you think the state of Texas will do? Do you think that they will release more inmates who are parole eligible? Adopt some of these programs that have been workiing for other states? Combination of the two or none of the above? Is Texas feeling the budget crunch also?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report Grits. Both good reads.

I am happy that to know that politicians are finally taking notice of the huge financial burden of incarceration.

However, I wish there were more words spoken about the human costs involved.

I guess I'm an idealist but I would hope that someone in authority would want to change things because it just might be the right thing to do.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Everybody has different motives, 8:01, and institutional change can only occur when people with many different motives and ideologies all come to the same solutions.

That's what I'm hoping is happening on this subject.

Anonymous said...

5:41 says
It is appropriate for those who commit a wrong to be punished. Having said that, I don't understand why the TDCJ-ID go back to having the prisoners help reduce the cost through harvesting crops, cattle, leathergood etc. I'm not talking about beating the crap out of them, just allowing them to lower the cost of their incarceration rather than making me, the one who obeys the laws do it. I know several very successful leather goods producers and mechanics who learned their trades while in TDC many, many years ago! They are very productive and law obeying citizens now.

Anonymous said...

2:19 Exactly how much lower would you like the cost to be? There is no air conditioning, the heat is spotty, the food is unhealthy at best, and what gaurds there are don't get paid very well.

Also, little things like having a fan in their cell in the summertime and decent shoes on their feet and extra clothes to wear in winter are all paid for by the prisoner.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 2.19 said: "I don't understand why the TDCJ-ID go back to having the prisoners help reduce the cost through harvesting crops, cattle, leathergood etc. I'm not talking about beating the crap out of them, just allowing them to lower the cost of their incarceration rather than making me, the one who obeys the laws do it."

They already do. TDCJ has to cover it's running costs, so the inmates do work in the fields all year round, tend the cattle and pigs, and work for Texas Correctional Industries in metal fab workshops etc. They dont get paid for it, TDCJ gets all the income. That's why it costs comparatively little for Texas to incarcerate so many people against the costs in other states. Really, there is very little left to make savings on, except incarcerating fewer people.

Anonymous said...

2:19 I forgot to mention that prisoners can buy those things I listed, like fans, only if they are fortunate enough to have a family member or friend to put money on their books.

The ones who do not, simply suffer.

Anonymous said...

I don't know one person who thinks that PRISON is like the HYATT.
As Beretta said, "Don't do the CRIME if you can't do the TIME.
Please, enough of the prisoner pity parties. My God, our HEROES aka: Soldiers have worse living conditions than any prisoner in this country.
Enough already...........

Anonymous said...

9:42 - 5:41 here - I was not aware that "soldiers were living in worse condition than any prisoners in the country."

Care to provide details. I'd be happy to join you in trying to change that as well.

Unlike you, I don't think that anybody should have to live like that.

And when you get around to forming your organization to put a stop to it or write your petition to your representative. Please let me know, I'd be happy to sign.