Corrections Commissioner Advocates More Spending on Education
Since 2008, Mississippi has trimmed its corrections budget by about 5%, to $332 million, according to Time. Reducing the prison population hasn't caused the state's violent crime rate to rise. In fact, the rate is falling toward 1970s levels, and the state's recidivism rate has decreased to 30% in the last four years — well below the national average.
The state is testing a global-positioning device that costs about $13 a day per convict to keep tabs on an individual — far less than the $41.74 cost to house and feed a prisoner. "We're still monitoring you, which is probably better than in some of my facilities," Chris Epps, commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections told Time. Elderly and terminally ill inmates are being released to their families, or hospices, saving nearly $5 million.
Epps expects the number of people placed on house arrest to increase — as soon as Mississippi's wireless commission, which he chairs, expands Internet access to rural areas. In the coming months, he will push legislation to expand inmates' eligibility for parole — potentially lowering the prison population by 19%, to 17,000, within two years. Projected savings: $52 million. "We can't spend enough on education," he told Time, "and that's a direct correlation to the number of people coming to me."
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