Is Justice Being Crowded Out? (10/11/11)
Kentucky's House Bill 463 – which was signed into law last spring – will save the state an estimated $42 million dollars a year by reducing jail and prison overcrowding. Of course, it won't accomplish that by building more prisons, but by releasing more prisoners. And that puts judges in a tough spot.
The major thrust of the bill is to lower the number of non-violent drug offenders behind bars by reducing the penalties for relatively minor offenses, and by diverting more violators into treatment plans or probation instead of just locking them up.
That seems fairly reasonable. But judges are also now required to follow a point system to determine which other inmates awaiting trial are low- or medium- flight risks, and allow those who qualify to post bond. And in a jurisdiction like Jefferson County, where offense rates are relatively high, this is bound to result in even more offenders of all kinds being returned to the streets only hours after being arrested.
I don't like it when the criminal justice system becomes even more of a revolving door. But the money necessary to properly house prisoners just isn't there. I've often complained that the government spends too much money on things government was never intended to do, but housing prisoners is one of the things only government can do.
Call and tell us what you think.
I'm Bill Lamb and that's my…Point of View.