Friday, June 11, 2010

Oregon Budget Shortfall May Result in Prison Closures

Oregon may close three prisons and release at least 1,000 inmates as a result of a budget shortfall emergency, reported the Oregonian.

Governor Ted Kulongoski announced a 9-percent budget cut across the board for all government agencies. The cut would cost the Department of Corrections about $52 million. Max Williams the Secretary of Corrections said he would rather close prisons and release inmates than pull programs.

Williams indicated that inmate services like job skill training, education, drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services should not be cut. Williams told the Oregonian program cuts, "would save less than half the money and cause problems in prison."

My Take

This appears to be more a matter of a shot across the bow-than a real plan to balance the budget. If Secretary Williams would have said programming cuts will cost the state in the long run with higher recidivism rates, more victimization and additional law enforcement and court costs, then he might have been more credible.

Instead he said program cuts will cause problems in prison. He is using fear to maintain his budget levels. The fear that 1,000 inmates will soon be walking the street and that idle prisoners will soon be rioting in Oregon's prisons.

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