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March 18, 2009

"To save money on prisons, states take a softer stance"

The title of this post is the headline of this new article from USA Today. Here are excerpts:

[A]cross the nation, the deepening financial crisis is forcing dramatic changes in the hard-line, punishment-based philosophy that has dominated the USA's criminal justice system for nearly two decades.

As 31 states report budget gaps that the National Governor's Association says totaled nearly $30 billion last year, criminal justice officials and lawmakers are proposing and enacting cost-cutting changes across the public safety spectrum, with uncertain ramifications for the public.

There is no dispute that the fiscal crisis is driving the changes, but the potential risks of pursuing such policies is the subject of growing debate. While some analysts believe the philosophical shift is long overdue, others fear it could undermine public safety.

Ryan King of The Sentencing Project, a group that advocates for alternatives to incarceration, says the financial crisis has created enough "political cover" to fuel a new look at the realities of incarcerating more than 2 million people and supervising 5 million others on probation and parole. "It's clear that locking up hundreds of thousands of people does not guarantee public safety," he says.

Joshua Marquis, a past vice president of the National District Attorneys Association, agrees the economy is prompting an overhaul of justice policy but reaches a very different conclusion about its impact on public safety. "State after state after state appears to be waiting for the opportunity to wind back some of the most intelligent sentencing policy we have," Marquis says. "If we do this, we will pay a price. No question."

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March 18, 2009 at 09:02 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Unfortunately with a wife out of work I have had to cut back on my retirement, we are living out savings, and forget even paying off that toxic debt right now. I came across this article thought and it made me laugh a little: 5 Worst Ways To Save Money: http://thatsbadass.com/2009/09/15/5-worst-ways-to-save-money/

Posted by: Cost_Cutting_Guru | Sep 17, 2009 1:15:13 AM

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