Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Indiana Paying for Law and Order Reputation

Indiana is paying for its reputation as a tough "law and order" state. Since 2000, the legislature has passed 117 criminal laws or penalty enhancements. In the same time, Indiana lawmakers have not passed a single measure that reduces prison terms.

The result, according to the Indianapolis Star: Indiana's prison population has jumped by more than 40 percent, and the cost of running the prisons has soared by 76 percent, to $679 million a year.

By 2017, Indiana Department of Correction officials say, the cost will balloon to more than $1 billion. Department of Corrections Commissioner Ed Buss is leading a push by the administration of Governor Mitch Daniels to rein in the cost of the state's prison system by changing the way felons are dealt with after sentencing.

Indiana is looking at other “law and order” states who have reigned in prison costs. Texas and Ohio, two states responsible for nearly have of the executions carried out this year, have found innovative ways to cut prison costs.

According to the Star, in Texas the legislature spent $240 million to create treatment programs, specialty courts, probation, mental health programs and halfway houses. Texas also created short-term jails for adults serving less than two years, increased the number of parolees and adopted measures to reduce the number of incarcerated juveniles.

In Ohio, lawmakers received are moving on recent recommendations for change. The experts found, as reported by the Star, that Ohio is being bankrupted by low-level offenders who keep cycling in and out of prison -- at a cost of about $21 million a month. Nearly three-quarters of the state's low-level drug and property offenders serve brief sentences, then are returned to the community with no supervision.

The Star is reporting, that in Indiana no specific proposals are on the table,but these are among the possible options:

» Increasing the number of felons on probation.

» Creating more programs such as home monitoring and work-release.

» Setting up more drug and alcohol counseling.

To read more: http://www.indystar.com/article/20100830/NEWS02/8300319/State-bears-high-cost-of-law-and-order

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