November 1, 2011
States reworking property crimes to reduce prison costs
This recent USA Today article, headlined "Some states rethink felony property crimes," highlights that it is not only low-level drug offenses getting revised to cope with excessive prison costs. Here is how the piece begins:
More than half a dozen states are reclassifying a range of property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, a change that could spare prison terms for minor offenses and save states jail and prosecution costs.
The changes increase the threshold dollar amounts for crimes such as check kiting, theft and criminal mischief. California, Delaware, Illinois, Montana, Oregon and Washington, among others, have amended their criminal codes in the past two years, aimed partly at deferring hundreds of offenders from costly prison and jail sentences.
State officials and criminal justice analysts said budget crises have forced state lawmakers, sometimes at political risk, to enact less punitive measures for criminal offenders. "Clearly one of the motivating factors is cost," said Alison Shames, associate director of the Center on Sentencing and Corrections for the Vera Institute of Justice, an advocacy group. "States are looking at the numbers of people in prison for property crimes and asking themselves a simple question: Does everybody really need to be there?"
Crimes that do not meet the higher thresholds would be charged as misdemeanors or lower-level felonies. Prior to the new legislation, some offenders could have been prosecuted as felons for thefts of as little as $50 (in Oregon), less than the $62 per day average cost to house a state prisoner in the U.S. In Illinois, the threshold for general felony theft was raised from $300 to $500 and retail theft (theft specifically from retail stores) from $150 to $300.
November 1, 2011 at 08:04 AM | Permalink
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Let's make this a great, forward-thinking country and instead of property crimes (where there is quantifiable monetary damages), let's re-examine sex crimes (most of which are felonies), and re-evaluate them based on actual physical contact, entrapment, consensuality, actual real harm or other bogus ideas put forth by DA's. I know, we still have the National Organization of Nags out there to object)
We would really be demonstrating some type of advancement as a civilization instead of returning to Salem.
Posted by: albeed | Nov 1, 2011 11:16:55 PM