Friday, June 24, 2011

Good and Mad Reading for the Weekend

An important new report from the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) gives sentencing reformers a more complete picture of what they're up against. JPI's new report shows how the private prison industry is aggressively combatting changes that will reduce demand for their product - prisons. Consider this little nugget (the report quotes from the most recent Corrections Corporation of America annual report):

The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.