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March 2, 2008

Potent state sentencing op-ed from Arizona

This morning's Arizona Daily Star has this notable op-ed headlined "Sentencing laws are senseless."  Here are snippets:

Gov. Janet Napolitano's 2008-2009 proposed budget includes almost $1 billion for the annual expense of maintaining our adult and juvenile prison system. The state is also receiving bids for the construction of facilities to create 3,000 additional prison beds to ease prison overcrowding. The standard construction cost is $110,000 and up per bed.

In the last 10 years the incarceration rate in the United States has far outpaced the rest of the world. We lock up people at five to eight times the rate of any other industrialized country. Arizona ranks with Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas as having one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States, including particularly high rates of incarceration for women and minorities....

If these mind-boggling amounts of money were buying us public safety, or even helping to support a more ordered society, they might be acceptable. The facts show otherwise:

  • 49 percent of new prison admissions are for parole or probation violations.
  • 55 percent of Arizona prisoners are serving time for non-violent offenses — DUI, drugs, theft, etc.
  • Only 18 percent are in prison for offenses involving victim injuries. Many are serving time for automobile accidents criminalized by allegations of negligent or reckless behavior, frequently alcohol-related.

At the present time, Arizona has more than 2,000 inmates over 50 years old who will remain in custody well into their geriatric years, and many for life. These prisoners, well beyond their lawbreaking years, require special medical attention, expenses that must be borne by the taxpayers....

It's time the public and the politicians get the facts on how expensive and unfair our criminal-justice system is and submit all of it to the light of public examination.

March 2, 2008 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Doesn't the federal government allot money to the states for prison systems? Is the amount of funds kicked back to states by the feds dependent upon state prison head counts? If we were to follow the money I think we'd soon see that people are being sacrificed on the altar of insatiable greed because of deals with the devil made by officials of every state. Arizona just made a dirtier deal than most but isn't that always the way?

I am an interested citizen that would like to see the entire system of government dismantled and restructured by the people for the people making it impossible for greed to rule our lives in the future.

Posted by: | Mar 14, 2008 11:45:11 AM

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