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Tue Feb 12, 2013, 12:46 AM

Money misspent on prisons is money better spent elsewhere

There was a time not all that long ago when Texas prisons were jam-packed. Now, because of falling crime rates and a move away from trying to incarcerate as many convicts as possible, about 10,000 bunks might be going unused in Texas’ 111-prison system. There are hundreds of additional empty bunks in the state’s six prisons for juvenile inmates.

Even with all this empty state-run space available, Texas pays $123 million a year to lease beds from private prison companies, as the American-Statesman’s Mike Ward reported last week.

This is money poorly spent that could be redirected elsewhere. The number of unused beds in state prisons gives legislators the opportunity to consolidate Texas’ prison system and close more prisons beyond the one they agreed to close in 2011. Additional money can be saved by ending contracts with private prison companies.

The number of people sent to prison has been declining for years. The state’s prison population is about 150,000, down some 7,000 convicts from three years ago. The incarceration decline is expected to continue as crime rates keep slowly falling and the state refocuses corrections on rehabilitation and treatment in community-based programs.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/opinion/money-misspent-on-prisons-is-money-better-spent-el/nWLyK/ .

Comments by Senator John Whitmire are included in the article. Like with other fiascoes experienced by the state, Texas is learning that privatization isn't as economical as their initial cost/benefit analysis suggests.

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Reply Money misspent on prisons is money better spent elsewhere (Original post)
TexasTowelie Feb 2013 OP
TheDebbieDee Feb 2013 #1

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 01:05 AM

1. When Bill Clinton first ran for President in 1992,

He was fond of saying, "It's cheaper to send a person to college for 4 years than to keep that person in prison for 4 years." It was true then and it is even truer now and it was one of the many reasons I voted for Bill Clinton.

America has become a prison nation, mostly because we have for-profit prisons. We have 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. We give non-violent offenders long prison sentences instead of letting them serve probation. It costs $75,000/year to lock a person up for a year.

Then, when they are released, if they are released, they are saddled with a criminal record which makes it nearly mpossible for them to find another job. So, it's like they are still being punished for the crime that they went to prison to atone for.

Sorry for the ramble, but the point I'm trying to make is that we as a society are sending too many people to prison when probation might be more appropriate. And if a person has served their time for a non-violent crime and has been released, their record should automatically be expunged so they are not still being punished for their crime.

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