Friday, December 31, 2010

Inmates Released in Mississipi to Save Money

Mississippi is giving America a glimpse into the future of incarceration. As state and local budgets continue to contract, look for policymakers to condition punishment on the health of the offender. How much will it cost taxpayers to punish an unhealthy offender?

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has ordered the release of the Gladys and Jamie Scott, imprisoned for their involvement in a 1993 robbery. The governor cited the $190,000 cost of Jamie’s dialysis treatment, reports the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. The release is also conditioned on Gladys donating Jamie a kidney.

The sisters were not eligible for parole until 2014. Barbour said he has asked the state prison director to look at all inmates receiving dialysis to determine whether they are fit for release. There are 16 inmates receiving dialysis. “The ones who are not threats to society, I don’t think the Mississippi taxpayers ought to bear that cost,” Barbour told the Clarion-Ledger.

The sisters were convicted of luring two acquaintances to a secluded area where three teens beat and robbed them.

Many states will be facing similar issues as corrections budgets shrink across the country. Health care costs make-up a significant portion of correction budgets and corrections is often the largest single budget expenditure in many states. Don't be surprised, what is happening in Mississippi is already happening in other states with much less fanfare.

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