Tuesday, February 15, 2011

'Budget crunch forces a new approach to prisons'

The title of this post is the headline to a notable NPR story today about the metamorphosis of debates over incarceration in light of state and federal budget shortfalls. Even so, the Obama Administration has requested a 10% budget hike for federal prisons. By contrast, states like Texas, which can't borrow to pay for its day-to-day bills, don't have the luxury of continuing to increase prison spending when the budget is bleeding red ink.


Audrey said...

I just read the link you provided Grits. Several thoughts come to mind. O'bama is supporting release of "well-behaved inmates". That is just common sense. But we know what happens in Texas. If an inmate is well-behaved and has no cases for any transgressions, quite often they are denied parole for obviously "manipulating the system". That is an actual paragraph found on their denial explanation. It is a no-win situation. I was case-free, have always been a rule follower (plus no priors) and it still took me 3 years to get out on an 8 yr.(non-violent) sentence.

My defense attorney said to the jury wouldn't you want her on probation and providing you with community services ( I have over 40years experience as a volunteer - started when I was a wee-kid), continue with her paying job, continue to pay taxes rather than have the state foot the bill to support her in prison. Unfortunately, he did a lousy job in my defense during the trial....but the point is the jury was totally run over by the prosecution's overly dramatic and lieing close. So long as prosecutors and police are evaluated and promoted based on successful arrests and convictions, there will never be an incentive for these folks to be truth-finders or rehabilitators and help hone down this runaway prison budget issue. There is a clear case of conflicting agendas. Gelb is quoted in the article saying "It costs 23 times as much to have somebody behind the walls as it does in the community." Exactly, but instead the system takes in the multitudes and then spits them out UNEMPLOYABLE! So, actually the cost to society is even higher.

In the article Jim Pasco (Fraternal Order of Police) says "there is a sociological or societal problem"...he is right but from his perspective crime is running rampent and he has to justify their numbers(and increases)whereas that is actually ONE of the societal problems...we are running a police state that doesn't blink at putting an innocent person behind bars. There is such a fine line between those arresting and prosecuting and those behind bars...I'd say that fine line gets crossed a lot but covered-up.

It seems in reading the article the decision makers only have part of the story....speaking in generalities... and I wonder if they have ever had a really good look at those 2 million Americans locked up. I think they'd be surprised at what they found. I agree, for some that is the best place but many ...that just isn't true.

DEWEY said...

To Audry:
I know where you are coming from. I was denied parole six times for "Nature and seriousness of offense" (only reason given). (I got involved with a sixteen year old female). I was released under "mandatory supervision" after serving almost five years on a sixteen. (At the time, they HAD to let me out.) I did eleven years on parole without incident. I was released off parole in 2000.
For those interested, I am the sound engineer and co-producer of THE PRISON SHOW. http://theprisonshow.org every Friday night.

Audrey said...

Dewey, your story does not surprise me. Sorry for your very bad luck...there sure are a lot of us who are victims of the system in one way or another. The stories are something else. I'll have to watch THE PRISON SHOW. I've not heard of it but I don't really watch TV, except for occasional news. What network/channel is the program and time?

Deborah said...

My husband was just denied parole. :( He has to wait until February 2012 to see if they set him free. He wrote an $1,100 bad check 20 years ago and a $700 one before that, and his roommate asked him to sign a check and deposit it for him and he got a forgery for that one. Because of that, he was told when he was denied parole, that he is a "consistent repeat offender." He has not raped, murdered, assaulted anyone, yet they look at him as "public enemy number one?" I am really starting to hate Texas! Grits, what is your take on this? He served 4.6 years and got out on parole and 9 years later was put back in? FOR WHAT?

Deborah said...

Another issue that has not been addressed, or I have not seen it, is being denied employment for being a felon and being denied a place to live! I ran into that one when I was honest and told them my husband was getting out on parole (well, I thought he was!) Thoughts, opinions? I would like to hear from apartment or property owners who rent!