Your Lying Eyes

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06 March 2010

Hey, What Happened to All Those Non-Violent Prisoners?

We're always hearing about how our inhumane criminal justice system sends hoards of non-violent offenders to prison. Just a month ago, the New York Times editorialized that "prisons are filled with a large number of nonviolent offenders, including minor drug offenders. In many cases, it would be more humane, economical and effective to provide drug treatment and mental health alternatives." Perfect liberal Ezra Klein intones:
Incarceration can serve a valuable purpose in segregating dangerous individuals from the wider society. That incarceration should be handled humanely and wisely, of course, but it has a purpose. For the millions and millions of non-violent offenders, though, it serves a very different purpose. It abandons them to a realm where violence, and threats, and intimidation, serve as your only security. [EA]

As Dylan sang:
For each unharmful gentle soul
Misplaced inside a jail
We gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing
So for cash-strapped states looking to save a few bucks, releasing the multitudes of non-violent offenders is a slam-dunk budget trimmer. Not so fast. This week, the Times has a slightly different tale to tell:
Safety Is Issue as Budget Cuts Free Prisoners
In the rush to save money in grim budgetary times, states nationwide have trimmed their prison populations by expanding parole programs and early releases. But the result — more convicted felons on the streets, not behind bars — has unleashed a backlash, and state officials now find themselves trying to maneuver between saving money and maintaining the public’s sense of safety.

In Illinois, Gov. Patrick J. Quinn, a Democrat, described as “a big mistake” an early release program that sent some convicts who had committed violent crimes home from prison in a matter of weeks. Of more than 1,700 prisoners released over three months, more than 50 were soon accused of new violations.

An early release program in Colorado meant to save $19 million has scaled back its ambitions by $14 million after officials found far fewer prisoners than anticipated to be wise release risks. In more than five months, only 264 prisoners were released, though the program was designed to shrink the prison population by 2,600 over two years.

The article goes on to discuss some specific cases, one a pedophile, that are rather disturbing. But basically, when push comes to shove - i.e., when states are motivated to save real money - the woeful tale of mass imprisonment of non-violent offenders appears to be rather exaggerated.

Extra reading: The Fallacy of the Nonviolent Offender


Blogger Steve Sailer said...

Of the people who are in prison at any one moment, killers make up a surprisingly sizable fraction.

More than a few of the drug possession prisoners are gangbangers who have been put away, like Al Capone, on charges that don't require witnesses, who can be intimidated.

And, non-violent offenders, include many truly non-violent but also truly incorrigible thieves, conmen, and other professional criminals.

March 06, 2010 10:22 PM  
Blogger said...

Amen brother. I remember the libtards at Takimag got on me for suggesting drug laws allow us to easily put away lawbreakers who can and would commit more violent offences if on the street

March 11, 2010 7:34 PM  

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