Monday, January 26, 2004


I have a busy day and won't be able to post again until later tonight, however I saw this piece on the downside of get-tough on crime policy in the Massachusetts prison system this morning.

Maybe it was a reaction to the Willie Horton debacle but our Commonwealth is noted to have one of the toughest prison systems in the country. The article notes the danger of keeping inmates incarcerated for the maximum amount of time on their sentence.

Corrections specialists worry that the state’s return to a get-tough prison system has a dangerous side effect: inmates convicted of violent crimes are increasingly serving out sentences before being released without parole or supervision.

Many quickly re-offend. State Department of Correction data show that more than 4,000 inmates serving time for violent crimes or sex offenses in maximum- and medium-security prisons have been discharged since 1995 without the parole restrictions of the past.

The numbers are somewhat alarming.

Of violent criminals and sexual offenders discharged from maximum- and medium-security prisons between 1995 and 1997, 21 percent were sent back to jail for subsequent violent crimes and sex offenses within three years of their release.

This is not a problem to be taken lightly.

"This is the single most underrated public safety issue facing us today," said Michael A. Pomarole, former chairman of the Massachusetts Parole Board and now a district court judge.

And let me remind you one more time that strict incarceration policies are not cost efficient. The article notes, "Massachusetts expects to spend about $45,670 per inmate this year." I don't think it's money well spent.


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