Report says sentencing reforms can save cash, lower crime rates

August 10, 2011
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Is it possible to reduce crime rates and save money? Yes it is, according to the just-released American Civil Liberties Union report “Smart Reform is Possible: States Reducing Incarceration Rates and Costs While Protecting Communities.” The report studied six states that have historically been “tough on crime” – Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas – all of which have passed significant bipartisan reforms that promote alternatives to incarceration.

For example, in Kansas, new laws mandating drug treatment instead of prison for certain nonviolent drug offenses, rewarding counties for reducing parole and probation revocations, and expanding earned credits for education and treatment programs have led to an 18 percent drop in crime rates between 2003 and 2009. The number of people incarcerated dropped 15 percent and the state is projected to save more than $100 million by the end of 2012.

Even Texas is seeing lower crime rates and more than $2 billion in savings as a result of its sentencing reforms, according to the report.

Some in Indiana – including Gov. Mitch Daniels – hoped we’d become one of those states that could make sentencing reforms and see results. But the bill introduced in the 2011 legislative session actually ended up being amended to increase prison times and cost the state more money because of the need to build new prisons. The bill died, and the hope is to try again in the 2012 session.

The report dedicates about a page to Indiana’s attempts, and it says “Indiana remains a state at a crossroads: if state officials are serious about closing the deficit and reducing unnecessary incar¬ceration, they will pass legislation in 2012 that models the Governor’s original vision.”

Do you think next year sentencing reforms will pass here?

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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