Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Detroit News Gets it Wrong on Prison "Reform"

The Detroit News Editorial Follow Texas' lead in reforming state prisons has a fatal flaw: it doesn't seem to graps the correlation between higher incarceration rates and lower crime rates.
Like Texas, Michigan's exploding prison population and costs are not being driven by rising crime rates. In fact, the state's crime rate has been declining since 1981, according to a soon-to-be-released analysis conducted by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.(emphasis added)

Yet Michigan's incarceration rate is now 45 percent higher than the average of the other seven Great Lake states, the CRC reports.

Like Texas, Michigan prison costs continue to skyrocket due to a back-up in granting parole, as well as rising health care costs and growth in the number of people imprisoned since the 1980s.
it seems the Detroit news can't understand that when criminals are incarcerated they are not capable of going out and committing more crimes, hence the existence of a high incarceration rate coupled with a lower crime rate.

While the article does point out some useful alternatives to incarceration, such as increased drug treatment programs, which probably should be adopted by the State, the cost of incarcerating criminals while expensive and easily measurable as a budget line-item, is still cheaper than the cost that the criminals can inflict on innocents outside the prison walls - costs measured in lives, injuries and stolen or destroyed property. Such costs are not as easily measured as the State budget for prisons, but they are real and far more painful then dedicating a portion of the budget to public safety and if necessary cutting other, unnecessary State programs.

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