Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Criminals free because of the budget?

The Washington Post has a story about how the state of Virginia is looking to see which of it's prisoners it can transfer to a home monitoring situation in order to save money. This is ridiculous. If someone can be freed or place in home monitoring then they should already be there. No way an artificial metric like "the budget" should influence incarceration standards.

If Virginia wants to use this budget crisis as an opportunity to review what they're doing and make permanent changes fine, but not to save money. That is wrong and dangerous.

Even if as the story says they are looking at "nonviolent" offenders who seem to pose little to no safety risk, I again ask, if that's the case why aren't they in these programs today?

People who should be in jail, should be in jail.
That's true regardless of whether the State has a deficit.

People who don't belong in jail shouldn't be in jail.
It shouldn't take a financial crisis to get their status re-evaluated.

Non-violent inmates could get out early

RICHMOND -- Leaders in the Virginia Senate are drawing up plans to overhaul the state's criminal sentencing policies so that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of inmates can be released from prison early, a politically risky move aimed at saving tens of millions of dollars.
Under the proposal being drafted by Senate leaders from both parties, Virginia would expand its use of home monitoring and make it easier for nonviolent offenders to be released after they complete drug treatment programs.
The state would then close one or two prisons, which would free up at least $50 million to help address a $3 billion budget shortfall.
The Senate plan, which is expected to be finalized this week, expands Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's earlier cost-cutting proposal to allow some prison officials to release nonviolent inmates 90 days before the end of their sentences

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