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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  1. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

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