Is sentencing reform and prison budget cutting. Lots of news out there on state sentencing law developments this Valentine's Day weekend:
Texas's budget writers are urging corrections officials and their parole boards to release more elderly and ill prisoners, instead of keeping them locked up -- at huge taxpayer expense -- until they die. In 2009, only 59 of 337 prisoners recommended for medical discharge and community supervision actually got it.
West Virginia's Charleston Daily Mail has the funniest sum-up of a prison crisis we've seen in awhile:
"The regional jails have put bunk beds and bunks within their cells in their facilities to expand their capacity beyond its original design," said Jim Rubenstein, Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Corrections. "There really is no more room at the Inn."In Oklahoma, drug court participation is up -- and particularly beneficial to women. This story offers a glimpse into prescription drug abuse and recovery and a success story.
Finally, this South Carolina article asks why recent sentencing reforms have not slowed prison (and prison budget) growth. Some say it's because judges are still sentencing the same way they did before the reforms were passed. Others say the reforms were intended to prevent new prison building and that savings won't show up immediately. It leads to an interesting point. In a budget crisis, we want savings now, but we didn't get into this mess overnight -- and we won't get out of it overnight, either.
Sentencing reform: it's the new sensation sweeping the nation!