News Round-Up Week Ending 30.10.15
(Posted on 02/11/15)Share:
Britain's final Guantanamo detainee flown home:
Cutting the cost of prison, Texas style
The Guardian reported Justice Secretary Michael Goveâ€™s recent visit to Texas to see Old Sparkyâ€™s stateâ€™s rethinking on crime and punishment.
In 2007, the number of inmates in Texan jails was 172,000, twice as many as currently held in England and Wales. Republican state representative Jerry Madden and Democrat John Whitmire sought to figure out how to avoid spending $2bn building new prisons.
â€œYou remember 25 years ago there was a great movie made about a place in Iowa called Field of Dreams?â€ said Madden. â€œA great line from Field of Dreams is, â€˜If you build it, they will comeâ€™. My task was not to build it, so we would have fewer people coming. And at the same time making the community safer.
â€œWe looked at the whole system. First thing you need to look at is what kind of people do we have in prisons? We have people who really weâ€™re afraid of, and ones that weâ€™re mad at. The ones thatâ€™ve done what youâ€™d call knuckleheaded things, and the ones whoâ€™ve done seriously violent things. We put the serious violent ones aside, basically [on Death Row].
â€œIf you take somebody whoâ€™s a drug addict and you break their drug habit, maybe theyâ€™ll be less likely to commit crimes. And if you take people with mental health problems and treat them, provide them with medicines, weâ€™d be safer. If we took alcoholics and stopped them from drinking and driving weâ€™d make the roads safer.â€
The Texas prison population has now fallen to about 166,000 even as the population has grown. Prisons have closed, not opened. Far fewer young people are locked up. Recidivism is down.