Wednesday, February 09, 2011

You tell 'em, Jerry! Cuts to probation would boost prison costs

Check out an article published this morning in USA Today, subtitled, "Cuts in probation and parole programs to reconcile state budget deficits could undermine recent successes in shrinking bloated prison populations, criminal justice officials say." The thesis, which will be familiar to Grits readers: Cuts in probation and parole programming threaten to boost prison populations which is much more expensive and often, for low-risk offenders, less effective. They could be/are talking abut us. Indeed, Texas' example closes out the article:
Among the most closely-watched budget battles, Gelb says, will be in Texas, as the state tries to close a deficit of up to $27 billion.

Republican state Rep. Jerry Madden of Plano says cuts would threaten some of the $240 million in treatment programs for some offenders who, without those programs, would have been ordered to prison.

Madden says the programs also were central to a slight drop in the number of parolees who returned to prison for committing new felonies in fiscal year 2010, from 24,692 in 2009 to 24,239. "We can't afford to go back (to growing prison populations)," he says. "We're not conceding anything yet."
You tell 'em, Jerry! We were projected to have some 17,000 more inmates by 2012 than we do now before Texas' 2007 probation reforms took hold. The best and arguably only way to cut spending is not to cut those programs but to double down on those investments, giving judges more options besides prison for low-level offenders, particularly when it comes to revoking probation sentences.

1 comment:

waitongod said...

Yes Jerry Madden!!! Thank you for your common sense and financial sense to bring remind legislatures that prison costs a whole lot more than probation programs!! Legislators, prisons are expensive to run, and are holding a whole lot of harmless "loved ones" and even previously tax paying (in income and sales taxes) people. Let them out and let them earn their own living, instead of state paid "welfare" on an ailing state budget!!!