Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Legislators Fear Being Called Soft More than Prison Crowding

The Louisville Courier-Journal blasted the Kentucky legislature for failing to address prison overcrowding, "Legislators should stop ignoring prison overcrowding for fear of looking soft on crime and start working toward a rational solution."

Kentucky's inmate population -- now at roughly 21,000 -- is growing at a faster rate than any other state's, and the need for action increases every day. The newspaper was critical of the state's partnership with private prisons. The Courier-Journal wrote, "The facts are that private vendors compromise safety and security to keep down costs," Michele Deitch, an attorney and University of Texas criminal justice professor, said. "They save money by hiring inexperienced staff at the low end of the wage scale. When you've got inexperienced, poorly trained staff, you've got a recipe for security and safety problems in a prison."

Although some suggest that Kentucky could not provide for adequate public safety without private prisons--the Courier-Journal fired back--"But everyone seems to be ignoring the elephant -- or tens of thousands of prisoners -- in the room: the need to amend sentencing laws for nonviolent offenders. Kentucky doesn't need more prison space; it needs fewer inmates. "

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