Georgia to Save $50 Million a Year by Reserving Prison for Violent Offenders

Friday, May 04, 2012
Faced with runaway costs from housing too many prisoners, politicians in Georgia have decided to change the way the state deals with low-level offenders so that correctional facilities primarily house violent criminals.
Under landmark legislation approved by lawmakers and Republican Governor Nathan Deal, the state is expected to save about $50 million a year by reserving prison beds for murderers and other dangerous convicts.
“As we reserve more of our expensive [prison] bed space for truly dangerous criminals [we] free up revenue to deal with those who are not necessarily dangerous but are in many ways in trouble because of various addictions,” Deal told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal. “Our system is feeding on itself with our recidivism rate being as high as it is. We have the opportunity now to make a difference in the lives of future generations of Georgians.”
The plan calls for some increases in state spending, such as allocating $10 million for “accountability courts” that require drug offenders to get jobs, seek treatment and stay sober.
Georgia is not the only state taking measures to deal with the high cost of incarceration. On Wednesday the legislature of Missouri voted overwhelmingly to enact new rules intended to keep nonviolent offenders out of prison. A recent study revealed that 71% of the state’s prison admissions were caused by probation and parole violations and that about 43% were being sent back to prison for technical violations, such as missing a meeting with a probation officer. The new law will reward ex-prisoners on probation for good behavior by shortening the length of their supervision of they comply with the conditions of their probation.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Governor To Sign Sweeping Justice Reform Bill (by Aaron Gould Sheinin and Bill Rankin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Missouri Legislature Passes Sentencing, Parole Guidelines (by Virginia Young, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Alternatives to Prison: It’s About Money, Not Ideology (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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