Washington tries lockdowns in face of budget crisis
Budget woes in the state have forced Department of Corrections officials to lock down eight prisons statewide in an effort to place officers on unpaid furlough days.
It’s a tactic that has been used elsewhere, most notably in California, where a state judge ruled the practice illegal after state corrections officials used lockdowns to reduce prison costs.
To Continue Reading: Washington Tries Lockdowns In Face Of Budget Crisis
Budget cuts accelerate Colorado prison reform
DENVER — Colorado officials plan to release roughly 15 percent of the state’s 23,000 prisoners early to help slash millions of dollars from the state budget.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti says budget cuts that took effect Tuesday call for the release of 3,500 inmates in Colorado prisons during the next two years.
The move is expected to save about $45 million during the next two years.
An additional 2,600 parolees will be released early from parole.
Prisoners within six months of their mandatory release date will be eligible to get out early.
Life terms quadruple as prison budgets are cut
One of the fastest-growing subgroups are inmates serving life without the possibility of parole
By Kevin Johnson
The rising number of prisoners serving costly life terms across the country is complicating state officials’ efforts to make dramatic cuts to large prison budgets, lawmakers and criminal justice officials said.
From 1984 to 2008, the number of offenders serving life terms quadrupled, from 34,000 to roughly 140,000, according to the most recent count by The Sentencing Project, which advocates alternatives to incarceration.
One of the fastest-growing subgroups are inmates serving life without the possibility of parole. Those numbers have jumped from 12,453 in 1992 to 41,095 in 2008 and represent the most costly inmates to house as the aging inmates require increased medical care.
“The challenge for us is to distinguish between the offenders we are afraid of — those who deserve to be locked up for life — and those who we are just mad at and who can be handled outside of prison,” Texas state Sen. John Whitmire said.
- These numbers have only increased at a rapid pace since 2008.
To Continue Reading: Life Terms Quadruple As Prison Budgets Are Cut
Corrections and elections: Why we aren’t a ‘sexy’ political topic
Ongoing protection of the public is expensive in an economy where cash is king and, after election day, challenges for the winners are king-sized
Corrections and public safety
with Cherrie Greco October 25th, 2012
Likewise, state and federal laws regulating conditions of confinement are becoming increasingly demanding, most of the time evolving as unfunded mandates, where implementation costs must be absorbed by local budgets.While everyone agrees costs can be reduced by supervising offenders in community-based settings, few candidates are willing to offer up their home districts for additional community beds. Voters will never hear a candidate shout from the rooftops, “What we need are more half-way houses in my district!”
Candidates are rarely heard inviting sex offender populations to reside in their districts, and, when looking at possible capital construction budget projects, they know schools, hospitals, roads and bridges are much more palatable than finding creative ways to pay for building a new prison or jail.
Currently, the greatest costs for running corrections agencies are in salaries and benefits. Sadly, while correctional line staff place themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis, they remain among the lowest-paid civil servants in America.
Occasionally, a related discussion topic like the death penalty question winds its way into town hall forums or television interviews. However, the candidate’s position on this subject rarely becomes a deal-breaker at the ballot box.
The challenge of managing the mentally ill population and preparing this group for community re-entry is usually on no one’s radar screen until a critical incident forces dialogue.
Half-way houses, education of inmate populations, health care in jails and prisons and other related issues are just not sexy political topics. In fact, there are certain functions of government the voting public merely takes for granted, and they expect these functions to work.
Public opinion and voting behavior are seldom linked to corrections-based issues; that means political candidates are hesitant to risk time or money on topics with very little return on their investment.
To Continue Reading: Corrections And Elections
- We have a problem. Someone is making a profit by having over 7 million within the Department of Corrections, but it is hurting the taxpayer, the prison officers and state budgets. I completely agree that prison officers that work in a prison are putting their lives on the line on a daily basis. They should be compensated better for doing a job that most do not want. I imagine how mentally frustrating it is to those that are putting their lives in danger but no one pays them their worth. We have higher up staff and other departments that get paid good wages off of incarceration but not the officers that are constantly working among inmates.
Let’s take a look at Montana.
Montana Governor Forrest Anderson
Anderson was a Democrat. He served in the Montana House of Representatives from 1943 to 1945. He was a Lewis and Clark County Attorney from 1945 to 1947. He was also an Associate Justice on the Montana Supreme Court from 1953 to 1957, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1956, and Montana Attorney General from 1957 to 1968.
Elected as Governor of Montana in 1968, Anderson was sworn in on January 6, 1969, and he was in office until January 1, 1973. During his tenure, he combined more than one hundred state agencies into nineteen departments, and authorized the 1972 Constitutional Convention and implemented the new constitution once it was ratified.
I would like to present some facts to the Legislature probably not known to most people. It deals with the corruption, waste, graft and greed of the Department of Corrections. If their budget (and corresponding prisoner incarceration levels) were reduced to what is actually and truthfully needed, that single act would solve the State’s Budget Crisis. The DOC is only interested keeping their beds full and expanding to waste more taxpayer funds. I sent this to Dave Lewis yesterday morning. I am hoping to find at least one member of the Legislature who is brave enough to become involved in the solution and not continue as part of the problem by voting to waste taxpayer dollars through endless funding to the DOC.
In the late 60′s and early 70′s the prison population was way up. A majority of the prison population had been either denied parole or were back in for trivial, technical violations. (Exactly the same situation as today.) The cell house was full and cells were double occupied. The Dorm and other housing areas were full. Forrest Anderson, who had previously been Attorney General, was elected Governor. From his tenure as A.G., knew the problems and the solution. He was well aware of the hateful, spiteful attitude toward prisoners from the staff and administration of the prison and parole board. He fired the Warden, the Director of the Department of Institutions and replaced the members of the Parole Board with instructions to reduce the population down to a level actually needed and to stop the long standing practice of revoking for technical violations. In less than a year, the population went down by about 50%. We need for something like that to happen again.
At one time, the prison was pretty much self-sustaining. It even produced a good share of the food for other state institutions until the crooks decided too much money was being saved by the taxpayers! The dairy produced milk, ice cream, cottage cheese, etc. There was a poultry operation which raised turkeys, and chickens for both meat and egg consumption. There were both beef and hog operations and a slaughterhouse and butcher shop which produced all the meat necessary to sustain the state institutions. They also grew all their own potatoes, cabbage and other vegetables. Then, a realization was made that all the millions of taxpayer dollars being saved could better be utilized by buying these products from local vendors. (Think of all the nice presents being received from those vendors for the business directed their way.)
Over the years, the administration has split positions and jobs so now it takes two or three people to do the exact same thing previously done by one person. This way, all of their friends and relatives can have a state job. Nice for those people but terrible for the taxpayers. The ratio of staff per prisoner is way too high for what is necessary for security and orderly operations. The staff utilizes state equipment for their personal and private use, etc. The above is just the tip of the iceberg. I would be willing to answer any questions or provide additional information. I am also attaching a report from Legislative Services which you may or may not have seen. It helps to demonstrate that the prison population is inflated by the practices and policies of the Parole Board and those practices and policies are contrary to the expectations of our judicial system.
To Read The Complete Article: Montana Board Of Pardons And Parole And Their Gang
We have gone full circle to pre Governor Forrest Anderson’s time. Look at our incarceration rates here in Montana again. Montana’s Incarceration Rates
Montana, we are starting with a new Governor, a new Attorney General, and many new legislators this year. Let’s work together in correcting this major problem. Let’s do the right thing and have integrity. Let’s bring Montana out of the pit of despair and the leading of the national rate of suicides for the last 35 years. I believe that there are things that we can do to make this a better state. A better state that needs to create jobs not off of the demise of other Montanan citizens. This only encourages to keep those citizens in a demised state.
There is a better plan than spending another $30.8 million of Montana’s taxpayers money. Governor Brian Schweitzer’s New Budget Proposal We need to revisit former Governor Forrest Anderson’s plan. Fix the broken system that is in place. Get rid of the corruption. We don’t need another prison. That is double talk in that proposed budget. How can you say you need money to build a prison for more inmates but you also need more money because you are going to make it to where you have less inmates returning to prison. It doesn’t even make sense and it is the same thing they have been saying throughout this whole past administration. The numbers show otherwise.