Ga. leaders wise to rethink corrections policy

When money gets tight, priorities change. Beliefs that were once assumed to be not merely true but downright unassailable are suddenly re-examined in a new light and found to be faulty.

Consider, for example, the assumption that the best way to fight crime is to throw as many people as possible into prison for as long as possible. Thanks to that philosophy, the number of people in Georgia prisons has more than doubled in the last 20 years, rising twice as fast as the state population. By the end of 2007, Georgia had the fourth highest rate of incarceration in a nation with an incarceration rate four times the international average.

A lot of the people we’ve thrown into prison could have been punished a lot more cheaply, a lot more humanely, and a lot more effectively. In fact, data suggest that in some cases, throwing people into prison makes them more likely to become repeat offenders. But for years, no one in political power dared to raise such questions, out of fear of being labeled soft on crime. The theory was arrest ‘em, convict ‘em, throw ‘em into prison and forget about ‘em.

That has begun to change. In his inaugural address back in January, Gov. Nathan Deal noted that “one out of every 13 Georgia residents is under some form of correctional control” and questioned whether that was financially sustainable. While violent and repeat offenders should continue to face prison, Deal said, it was time to reassess how we handle first-time offenders and those convicted of drug possession and other lesser crimes.

With the support of Deal and other state leaders, the General Assembly created the  Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, asking its members to suggest changes to state criminal law and its corrections system in order to cut costs to taxpayers. The group’s report is now out, and its recommendations on the whole are wise, fact-based and well-thought-out.

The tricky part will be translating wise recommendations into wise legislation.

As the report points out, “drug and property offenders represent almost 60 percent of all [prison] admissions. Importantly, many of these offenders are identified as lower-risk. In 2010, Georgia courts sent more than 5,000 lower-risk drug and property offenders to prison who have never been to prison before, accounting for 25 percent of all admissions.”

According to the report, the average prison time for those convicted of drug and property crimes tripled between 1990 and 2010. In addition, the average probation sentence in Georgia is almost 7 years, twice the national average. That’s a huge investment with very little return, considering that the recidivism rate hasn’t budged in the last two decades.

Some of the changes proposed by the council are simple and common sense. Unlike many states, Georgia’s burglary statute treats a break-in of an unoccupied barn just as seriously as it treats a break-in to an occupied home at night. Creating a lesser category of second-degree burglary for unoccupied structures would reduce sentences, lower costs and more accurately reflect the severity of the crime.

Likewise, the threshhold for felony theft is $500, a level that hasn’t been changed in almost 30 years. Raising it to $1,500 to adjust for inflation would again serve the interest both of taxpayers and of justice.

Other changes are more complicated. As alternatives to prison time, the council recommends a more extensive — and expensive — system of drug courts, residential drug-addiction treatment centers, probation centers and community-based supervision, to be funded through savings generating by reducing prison time. (The Department of Corrections spends roughly $18,000 per inmate a year).

Traditionally, it has been difficult to sustain legislative support for financing such alternatives. But as the council stresses, such programs are essential if the larger reform effort is to succeed. The goal of the reform effort is not merely to cut prison time and thus cut spending. It is to cut prison time while enhancing both public safety and the cause of justice.

If we don’t adequately fund treatment programs and sentencing alternatives, that goal cannot be achieved, and we’ll soon be back to warehousing.

-

118 comments Add your comment

Real Scootter

November 30th, 2011
7:07 am

Real Scootter

November 30th, 2011
7:08 am

Good morn y”all. :smile:

Real Scootter

November 30th, 2011
7:19 am

I think drug treatment centers are a waste of money.IMO,they don’t work very well even when people go to them voluntarily.If they are forced to go to one it can’t do very well.

Normal

November 30th, 2011
7:32 am

I wonder if this will mean more “paid public service” for offenders…like picking cotton, or peanuts, pay to go to the prison system? I know that some prisons grow their own food. Do our prisons do this?

Bottom line though, if we had a better educational system, we would have less need for prisons. Only those with no future resort to crime and/or drugs.

And this has always been my argument against the Pro Life bunch. If you want to save that fetus, make sure there is a program available to remove it from a home that doesn’t want it, feed it, keep it healthy, educate it, and in doing so, guaranteeing that it will be a boon to society and not a three time loser.

willydoit?

November 30th, 2011
7:33 am

Prison time for most drug users is a huge waste of tax payer money.

Why do time for a victimless crime?

Please

November 30th, 2011
7:33 am

Granny Godzilla

November 30th, 2011
7:34 am

I am impressed with the report…it does make sense.

In this environment however, making sense isn’t often rewarded.

USinUK

November 30th, 2011
7:35 am

“That has begun to change. In his inaugural address back in January, Gov. Nathan Deal noted that “one out of every 13 Georgia residents is under some form of correctional control” and questioned whether that was financially sustainable.”

dang.

say what you want about the guy, but that was a bold thing for a pol – a GOP pol at that – to say.

USinUK

November 30th, 2011
7:35 am

Hi Normal!!!

JW

November 30th, 2011
7:36 am

Obviously, its far better in the long term to prevent problems from occurring, than waste time and money after its out of control. But alas, it is the government… greedy, corrupt, and always wanting to look good first, perform well second. The best interest of the country as a whole is an afterthought.

Get to the root of the problem. No, the real root. Its not the education the criminals missed out on. Or the parents that didn’t hug them enough. If drugs are removed from the equation, 80-90% of crime in the US completely disappears. And along with it… high unemployment, methadone clinics, prison overpopulation, people stuck on welfare, the list is endless. Then think of all the constructive things our citizens could accomplish once drugs are removed from their lives. The possibilities are endless.

But, it won’t happen. Politicians pockets are fed by huge corporations, not citizens. Drug importation cannot be prevented without tighter borders. But we don’t have the money to tighten borders because its all handed out to people who have already had their lives screwed up by drugs and cannot support themselves, let alone contribute to society. The money is wasted by supporting a prison population higher than any other on earth, instead of being used constructively to prevent poeple from becoming criminals.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will feed himself for the rest of his life.

Allow drugs into our country, men will steal anything to sell for money to buy drugs. They will commit crimes, people will sell their own bodies to get money for drugs. Once drugs have ruined their lives, they will be supported by the same government that allowed them to get their hands on the drugs in the first place. Whos the real drug dealer?

Its incredible how the government never acts in the best, long term interest of its citizens. The future is predictable…

HDB

November 30th, 2011
7:38 am

If people were serious about cutting the costs of the Corrections system…..

1) Increase funding to educatonal systems
2) Decriminalize possession of drugs for personal usage….in fact, just decriminalize drugs all together
3) Get the economy back up so that people can WORK rather than just sit around in misery

Normal

November 30th, 2011
7:40 am

Grand morning to you, USinUK.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
7:42 am

The entire system needs revamping and would require constitutional
amendment. Jimmy Carter started consolidating and realigning this
mess when he was Governor and I think It’s where he left it except
for an increase in Correctional Officer pay. The major problem is
lack of continuity. County level State Probation Officers are the key
to successful offender correction and should be highly trained
professionals. All offenders enter the system at the Superior Court
level. Requiring objective Probation reports prior to sentencing
should be mandatory. Once incarcerated the offender is kept
by Corrections but released by the Parole Board who very
rarely, if ever, interview the offender. As in the Federal system
Parole should be abolished and this Constitutional agency replaced
with the Department of Corrections supervised release. GPS
monitoring should be increased at the Offenders expense. A
look at Florida’s system could be helpful.

Aquagirl

November 30th, 2011
7:43 am

Drug importation cannot be prevented without tighter borders.

Are you going to build a wall around every meth lab in Georgia? That sounds very expensive. And kind of silly.

willydoit?

November 30th, 2011
7:45 am

The “war on drugs” keeps too many people employeed to ever decriminalize it. This crosses both sides of the aisle in Washington.
Think about all of the out of work DEA, cops and prison workers we would have…never gonna happen.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
7:49 am

An addict needs help not punishment.

USinUK

November 30th, 2011
7:56 am

“The “war on drugs” keeps too many people employeed to ever decriminalize it”

hit the nail on the head

willydoit?

November 30th, 2011
7:56 am

“Are you going to build a wall around every meth lab in Georgia? That sounds very expensive. And kind of silly.”

That is silly. However, the drugs coming in from south of the border wouldn’t be worth so much if the war on drugs north of the border came to an end. Its our never ending battle to stop the flow of drugs that makes them so valuble on the street, therefore feeding the drug lord problems in Mexico and here in America.
Take the money out of drugs and you will for the most part, take out the crime associated with drugs.
As for meth, it was a cheap drug that users could afford…until it became a target of the war on drugs as well.

I wonder, what cheap drug will replace meth???

JW

November 30th, 2011
8:02 am

@ Aquagirl… No. We need to think of a constructive way to make meth labs obsolete. Trace the problem back to its root… Building a wall around meth labs will just turn criminals into good climbers.

@ willydoit?… you got it.

@ barking frog… But we also need to prevent people from becoming addicts. This is whats not being done. What better way than removing the substance they are addicted to, from the equation.

@ HDB…Legallizing drugs does not solve anything. Just because something is legal has no effect on its addictiveness, or what people will do to get it. If you think that bag of weed you’re smoking now is expensive, wait till its legal and the government gets a cut. Crimes will still be committed in order to get money for drugs… legal or not.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:04 am

JW what better way to remove drugs from the equation
than the ‘war on drugs’. How’s that working out?

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:05 am

building a wall around every meth lab is no sillier than
building a fence around the US.

Not Blind

November 30th, 2011
8:05 am

Execute the violent criminals and you will have plenty of room for the others. I refuse to accept the idea that criminals, violent or otherwise, have a right to exist in our society.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:10 am

Bill Clinton signed legislation to stop Pell Grants to prisoners.
So much for education.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

November 30th, 2011
8:10 am

The questions asked long ago in criminal law courses have always been what is the purpose? Deterrence, Incapacitation, Rehabilitation and Retribution. Clearly the trend to harsher sentences and our prison system fails on many levels. Many see it only as incpactitation and retribution. The system is out of whack and wasting money.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:11 am

Not Blind, Yes you are.

Aquagirl

November 30th, 2011
8:11 am

Its our never ending battle to stop the flow of drugs that makes them so valuble on the street, therefore feeding the drug lord problems in Mexico and here in America.

Now THAT hit the nail on the head. Stop b!tching about illegal immigrants while feeding a war that creates them. Mexico and other points South are crippled by an 800 lb. gorilla that wants its drugs while punishing the supplier.

Jay’s wrong, it takes no wisdom to blabber about problems associated with drug prohibition. It doesn’t take anything at all, except hot air. Our Fearless Leaders will find a way to kick the can down the road like they did with transportation. And idiot voters will re-elect them, punishing those who attempt to do something for being “soft on crime.” Business as usual in a nation of fools. We elect the government we deserve.

RB from Gwinnett

November 30th, 2011
8:12 am

“Creating a lesser category of second-degree burglary for unoccupied structures would reduce sentences, lower costs and more accurately reflect the severity of the crime.”

How many of you have had your homes broken into? It’s happened to me twice. And to see the POS who did it the second time walking down the street in front of my house 4 days/week sucks. Every time I see him, I want to walk out the the street and beat the crap out of him. He served 4 months for it and now I have to worry about whether or not he’s coming back for more because the penalty for somebody who has no job, no place to go, and no ambitions to do anything else just ain’t that bad when you look at it from their perspective.

Jm

November 30th, 2011
8:13 am

Now if only democrats would realize they need to reform unsustainable entitlements.

For my part, I agree drug sentences need to be changed. Property crimes, however, should still have tough sentences. These people are dangerous and should be treated as such. Ankle bracelets after they get out too.

Jim

November 30th, 2011
8:13 am

if it’s more than “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” most georgians are too lazy and stupid to even consider it.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:17 am

Jm, what’s tougher. Being made to work and pay for your
own supervision or staying in jail and having your food
handed to you on a tray ?

HDB

November 30th, 2011
8:17 am

JW
November 30th, 2011
8:02 am

Compare the crime rate in Amsterdam where certain drugs are LEGAL to what we have here in the US! What has to be done is to remove the criminal element out of drug sales….and remove drug testing in non-essential professions!!

What we have now isn’t working….why shouldn’t we look at a new way of thinking???

TaxPayer

November 30th, 2011
8:17 am

But Republicans are gonna need lots more jail space once they make abortion of a fertilized egg a felony, unless they plan on implementing some form of instantaneous justice. Lynching was a popular alternative in the past. Trees are cheap and low-maintenance and hemp ropes are durable as well as green.

Normal

November 30th, 2011
8:18 am

USinUk,
I like the way you guys think!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15953806

stands for decibels

November 30th, 2011
8:19 am

Execute the violent criminals and you will have plenty of room for the others.

Looks like a typical *defense* in a capital case in Georgia costs about $150,000 to $200,000.

Throw in the prosecution costs, and what it costs to incacerate the person while awaiting appeals and ultimately the execution itself, and it’s just… well, stupid on so many levels.

Jm

November 30th, 2011
8:19 am

Occupy Atlanta now in a homeless shelter

Appropriate

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:20 am

TaxPayer

November 30th, 2011
8:17 am

But Republicans are gonna need lots more jail space
—————————————–
Nuff said..

Normal

November 30th, 2011
8:20 am

TaxPayer

November 30th, 2011
8:17 am

Geez Taxie,
Don’t give them ideas…

JKL2

November 30th, 2011
8:21 am

-When money gets tight, priorities change.

Unless you’re a Democrat. Then the rich become a bunch of evil freeloaders not paying their “fair share” for your pet projects.

It’s funny how all those people protesting wealth are the same ones standing around with their hand out waiting for obama to buy their vote. Free money for everyone!

Normal

November 30th, 2011
8:22 am

jm,
We know you hate people who are using their Constitutional rights, so why don’t you just give it a rest? Please?

Aquagirl

November 30th, 2011
8:24 am

What better way than removing the substance they are addicted to, from the equation.

JW, how do you propose we do this? We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars now. There is no magic Efficiency Wand you can wave and make those billions of dollars do what you want either, show your work.

Normal

November 30th, 2011
8:25 am

Here we go, Prison reform has now turned into the usual partisan “I hate , no I hated you first” Schick.

Some of y’all really need therapy.

I’m out until the next thread.

Doggone/GA

November 30th, 2011
8:26 am

“What better way than removing the substance they are addicted to, from the equation”

Yeah! I mean, really, just look at how well that worked with alcohol!

Jimmy62

November 30th, 2011
8:28 am

I think a lot of the problems with incarcerating people who shouldn’t be incarcerated can be solved by ending the war on drugs and legalizing sales and usage (not to minors, of course, any more than they can buy or sell tequila, and not for driving, also just like with alcohol). Beyond that…. Non-drug related incarcerations may be up, but crime is down. Maybe because we’re putting the criminals away?

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:29 am

Most politicians won’t even discuss the Corrections system,
too close to home.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

November 30th, 2011
8:31 am

And to the mentality of the “death penalty for any violations” it does not deter! If it did then murders in states with death penalty would be less than states without death penalties.

Not Blind

November 30th, 2011
8:32 am

@decibels at 8:19. What did the violent criminal’s actions cost the victim? There is nothing more absurd than life in prison for a murderer, rapist, wife beater, etc.

Jim

November 30th, 2011
8:32 am

jm,
awfully big of you to go after the unemployed AND the homeless. they certainly deserve your contempt and derision. who next, jm?

how about some of your of-so-witty-and-clever contempt for the poor, the hungry, the fat, and crippled?

Misty Fyed

November 30th, 2011
8:33 am

Do you ever wonder what the Philipines recidivism rate is for vandalism after being cained?

Stevie Ray

November 30th, 2011
8:33 am

Jay,

I truly appreciate this column, particularly with respect to the issue of efficacy and the disease of addiction. Other great alternatives do exist however, don’t discount the influence of public/for-profit corporations that contract with state and feds to operate prisons which is well documented. Of course, our politicians are in these pockets as well so any proposed fix will be impossible to pull off until we get reform in lawmakers ethics.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:34 am

A great portion of drug addicts got hooked on prescription
drugs, as in Limbaugh, legal drugs.

BADA BING

November 30th, 2011
8:35 am

Meth is it’s own punishment. Have you seen the mug shots of the users? Clinton and Cain wouldn’t even go out with some of those women.

JamVet

November 30th, 2011
8:37 am

Damn, is Nathan Deal a closet progressive? Considering new and improved ways of dealing with our dysfunctional prison system??

Good on him.

But implementing it? Regarding our stuck in the 1950s neo-cons, I have serious doubts.

It’s funny how all those people protesting…

No funnier than how all of your posts are absurd lies…

Misty Fyed

November 30th, 2011
8:38 am

The death penalty doesn’t deter? I’ve never seen anyone commit murder again once the death penalty has been administered.

The death penalty removes from our society those who either at a moment of passion, pure meanness, or whatever have proven they cannot conduct themselves in accepted standards and have purposely caused the death of an innocent. I don’t care if deters someone else or not. It’s called the death “penalty”….not “murder deterant” for a reason.

Not Blind

November 30th, 2011
8:38 am

@Stevie Ray- Accountability from our lawmakers and bureaucrats? Yeah right. What you going to do, put them in prison ?

Stevie Ray

November 30th, 2011
8:38 am

Regarding the private contractors running many, if not most of prisons, get paid by headcount so lots’ of lobbyist money lines state and federal lawmakers coffers to leave the laws as is….just another insurmountable obstacle until we can force our lawmakers to abide by the same ethics laws as the rest of us….it’s not unlike the idea of getting the cost of our pharmaceuticals down relative to other countries which pay 60% less….follow the money..

Stevie Ray

November 30th, 2011
8:43 am

NOTBLIND,

Thanks for the reply. Until we eliminate the conflicts, insider trading and cronyism in Congress et al, don’t expect anything to change. As long as we have a Permanent Political Class who realizes that the best way to become a rich capitalist is to begin as a politican, not this, the economy, healthcare, tax code etcetera will be addressed in the best interests of us voters….

Yes, lawmakers should march to the same ethics code as we do. If I trade on insider information or if a lawmaker, direct taxpayer funded projects to campaign contributors or pals, I’d go to jail…

King Of All

November 30th, 2011
8:43 am

There’s a lot of money to be made by private contractors out of the corrections systems. This is definitely one area where Government can do it more efficiently than the “private sector”. I bet the lobbyist will go down fighting and will come out the winner. Money talks.

Geezer

November 30th, 2011
8:43 am

We are up against the private prison industry when it comes down reducing the number of people we incarcerate. They are lobbying congress for tougher sentences so they can keep their business thriving.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

November 30th, 2011
8:45 am

Misty, do try to really think about this. The death penaly did NOT deter the original murder did it? You have acknowledged that. So you have said its Retribution. Except that only a small number of murders are actually planned and premeditated. Many are crimes of passion, You’ve acknowledged that too, except that you wish to kill someone who acted not with rational thought at the time but in anger. That same person is generally unlikely to commit another murder. But of course in your mind it is okay to kill a mother who shoots and kills a husband who beats her child or her.

carlosgvv

November 30th, 2011
8:46 am

I agree that violent and repeat offenders should face prison time and we need to re-access how we handle first-time offenders. I agree simply because it’s clear Geogia just does not have the money to continue business as usual. Your political and philosophical opinions here don’t mean squat if there is no money to implement them, and there isn’t.

Stevie Ray

November 30th, 2011
8:46 am

KING,

Nice moniker…All we have to do is follow the money for sure. I don’t agree that government can do it better without changes to incarceration tenets. The addiction thingy and fatherless or otherwise ill equipped parented children can’t be rectified by any body…

markey mark

November 30th, 2011
8:47 am

wow…for all the slams against Deal, so far he has been pretty reasonable in some of his policies, wouldnt you say?

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:47 am

Practically the only prison reform that has been put in
place has been brought about by Corrections Officers,
the guys who unarmed, underpaid and unappreciated
deal with the people we fear the most,daily.

ByteMe

November 30th, 2011
8:48 am

When statewide (and Federal) politicians are looking for support in Georgia for their candidacy, where do they turn first? County sheriffs.

Who runs the jails in Georgia? County sheriffs.

Who benefits from having a HUGE prison population and the commensurate budget for that population? Uh huh.

I don’t see this going as far as it should.

Stevie Ray

November 30th, 2011
8:50 am

GOODFIGHT,

I agree that the death penalty should be abolished and does nothing to deter offenders. At least it makes money for lawyers eh? Heck, Roe v Wade has done more to curb crime than anything else…Freakomonics has a great chapter devoted to this…If the Christian right wingers are successful overturning this, hopefully they have homes to provide the spike in unwanted kids…

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
8:52 am

ByteMe, you have hit on a major contribution to cost.
The sheriff arrests and the courts convict and the
prisoner while in the local jail has to be paid for by
the State thus increasing local revenue.

St Simons - we're on Island time

November 30th, 2011
8:57 am

Good. We might want to look at Florida, they’re ahead of us on this.

I know, Florida – can’t vote, can’t drive. But they’re doing this right.

Aquagirl

November 30th, 2011
9:03 am

for all the slams against Deal, so far he has been pretty reasonable in some of his policies, wouldnt you say?

He obviously has no relatives profiting from incarceration business. :)

Keep Up the Good Fight!

November 30th, 2011
9:03 am

I agree that privatization of the correction systems has been a large failure and has contributed to a skewing of the system to favor the large corporation who stand to profit.

St Simons - we're on Island time

November 30th, 2011
9:08 am

oh, the best laid plans of mice and neocons….

When the security apparatus reports to a “Blackwater”, instead of
directly to the People, only a neocon would see that as a good thing.
Makes me want to blow the causeway bridge to New Somalia

too little time

November 30th, 2011
9:09 am

“What better way than removing the substance they are addicted to, from the equation”

That would certainly be the thing to do. But Prohibition and The-War-On-Drugs pretty much gives us a combined 40 years of failure in those attempts. Those efforts only served to make criminals out of (mostly) victimless crimes, to drain the taxpayers’ pockets, and to bring about contempt of law enforcement.
In short: been there, done that. Long term incarceration for victimless, non violent drug offenses is NOT an answer. Insisting that we can stop drugs in the U.S. by stopping them at the border when we can’t stop 20 million illegal immigrants is laughable, and ignores the meth labs and grow houses/acres and pill mills that exist within our borders.

godless heathen

November 30th, 2011
9:10 am

Lots of things about our criminal justice system need to be rethought. to rethink lots of things about our criminal justice system. Brian Nichols killed people in front of dozens of witnesses. There was never any question he did it. Yet it took how many millions of $ and 2 years to bring him to some form of justice. The Fort Hood Shooter killed 12 people in front of hundreds of witnesses in 2009. There is no doubt he did it. Yet he has to this day not been put on trial. Trial to begin who knows when. Absurd.

Mary Elizabeth

November 30th, 2011
9:11 am

“By the end of 2007, Georgia had the fourth highest rate of incarceration in a nation with an incarceration rate four times the international average.”

“. . . throwing people into prison makes them more likely to become repeat offenders. But for years, no one in political power dared to raise such questions, out of fear of being labeled soft on crime”

—————————————————————————–

During my career as an educator, I asked others to realize that more investment in effective education would cut crime and the numbers incarcerated. I suspect that the recommendations of the Reform Committee did not include initial programs in school systems that would stop criminals from becoming criminals, in the first place – before many become drop-outs. (I have told the story of Robert previously on this blog. He was the almost drop-out at age 19, but through my personal intervention and care, stayed to receive his high school diploma at 21. His mother told me that he was on his way to a life of crime when I helped to pull him back from the brink of that lifestyle. Restating this is not meant to be seen as praise of me personally, but to demonstrate the effectiveness a dedicated educator can have in preventing crime.)

Consciousness needs to be raised about how criminals emerge. Valuing education in our state is primary. We must see the value of education to offset crime and, thus, to cut incarceration numbers. The reform efforts shared above are excellent, but some legislation needs to be forthcoming which will fund programs in school systems which will stop future criminals from becoming criminals, in the first place. We must see the critical connection between education and incarceration.

In addition, as the consciousness of the general public is raised through education, citizens would transcend believing that “hard on crime” solves problems. Instead, they would begin to see that education and reform programs are “smart on crime.” Georgia’s incarceration numbers would then drop.

Rick

November 30th, 2011
9:11 am

“If you think that bag of weed you’re smoking now is expensive, wait till its legal and the government gets a cut.”

States that have legalized medicinal use actually have much lower prices, including from the dispensaries. When you take out the danger of producing and selling on the black market, prices go down.

HDB

November 30th, 2011
9:12 am

Jay…off-topic…but related:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/01/world/europe/great-britain-strike-austerity-measures.html?_r=1&hpw#

Granted, government has to get costs under control….but too many people fail to realize that the government MUST spend in bad economic times…..and CUT spending in good economic times!!

RB from Gwinnett

November 30th, 2011
9:15 am

“If the Christian right wingers are successful overturning this, hopefully they have homes to provide the spike in unwanted kids…”

I guess expecting people to be responsible for their own actions and lives is out of the question???

godless heathen

November 30th, 2011
9:15 am

Price of weed went up when the NBA settlement was reached.

lovelyliz

November 30th, 2011
9:21 am

Be wary of the incarceration industrial complex

Soothsayer

November 30th, 2011
9:21 am

Here’s a great website where you can see who is getting arrested and for what.

http://www.gwinnettmugs.com

Put you cursor on each photo and click to learn that person’s charges.

TaxPayer

November 30th, 2011
9:21 am

There’s all kinds of neat stuff out there on the Internet about jails. It’s a really big industry. Check out this site and click on the “county jails” display option.

Gordon

November 30th, 2011
9:21 am

Now you’re talking, Jay. Keep writing columns about how the government can save money.

Rick

November 30th, 2011
9:22 am

“The death penalty doesn’t deter? I’ve never seen anyone commit murder again once the death penalty has been administered.”

But people who are just given life in prison are really likely to commit murder again?

Granny Godzilla

November 30th, 2011
9:23 am

RB

“I guess expecting people to be responsible for their own actions and lives is out of the question???”

Certainly not.

But not planning for those who will not do so must also not be out of the question.

Richard

November 30th, 2011
9:24 am

End the war on drugs. Legalize all drugs (people can get them regardless of legality). Tax and regulate extensively (in the vein of alcohol and tobacco). Stop legislating morality.

It will save billions on police man power, correctional facilities, and courts, raise revenue on the taxes, and give us back our civil liberties.

mr. garrison

November 30th, 2011
9:27 am

drugs are bad. mmmK

Richard

November 30th, 2011
9:31 am

Wow JW, you are an idiot. If you try to remove drugs from people’s lives you will only drive up the cost and increase the incentive for drug cartels to import drugs (see: Mexico, War on Drugs, 1920s Prohibition). You will never do away with the demand. Legalize it and you do away with all the drug related violence, reduce the cost (resulting in few people spending every dime they have on one more hit), create jobs, and boost the economy.

Jack

November 30th, 2011
9:31 am

We need more jails. Then we could have an OCCUPY jails.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
9:34 am

Jack, that actually is a good idea. More and larger jails
could end the requirement for so many state prisons and
leave the responsibility where it started, in the County.

Not Blind

November 30th, 2011
9:42 am

If we legalize drugs who’s going to be the workers in the businesses that are our economy? Not the drug users, they’ll be saying “The heck with work today, let’s stay home and get high!!!”

JamVet

November 30th, 2011
9:43 am

Jack wants MORE of his money to go for MORE jails? (Or is he one of those Marxists who only wants other people’s money to be used? LOL)

The smart thing to do would be to empty them of the harmless, dumb kids caught with weed, etc to make room for his party’s real heroes – the white collar criminals that have ruined countless families and who tried to destroy capitalism…

zeke

November 30th, 2011
9:45 am

In S.C. the prison system operates several farm type systems. They have a large dairy, a vegetable growing operation and others. The prisoners work in these, learn on the job, supply milk, vegetables, etc. for the prisoners reducing the costs and learning a possible vocation while earning a small income for their use and when they are released! IN NO CASE SHOULD THE PENALTIES FOR OR THE LEGAL RULES FOR CRIMINAL ACTIONS BE CHANGED TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR THOSE CRIMINALS TO AVOID OR REDUCE PUNISHMENT! The only exception should be in the case of non violent white collar type crime. The criminals would not be a violent danger to society and could be held in house type monitored situations!!! REHABILITATION DOES NOT WORK! A MURDERER IS ALWAYS A MURDERER! A RAPIST IS ALWAYS A RAPIST! A DRUG DEALER SMALL OR LARGE IS ALWAYS A DRUG DEALER! You may or may not agree with the laws on drugs, but, THEY ARE THE LAWS AND MUST BE ENFORCED TO THE MAXIMUM PENALTY!!

Aquagirl

November 30th, 2011
9:46 am

You will never do away with the demand.

Where are all the conservative free market worshipers when we’re discussing the drug war? If there is a demand, there will be a supply. You don’t need a degree in economics to get it. Why do they think these rules suddenly change?

People like Rush Limpbaugh should STFU. Don’t babble on about the blessed free market while supporting the war on drugs. (For people other than you, of course.)

Thulsa Doom

November 30th, 2011
9:47 am

An incarceration rate 4 times the international avg. Yeah. So. Did it ever occur to you that the reason it is higher is because the odds of getting caught and convicted here are substantially higher than in other countries? 50% or more of murders committed in mexico go unsolved. Here its around 10% due to better forensics, investigative techniques, etc. we incarcerate more criminals because wer catch and convict more of them. Hence more criminals in jail. You libs are so dishonest with misleading stats that its appalling. Does anyone really think that there are less criminals and crime in places like mexico. Russia, etc. just because they have lower incarceration rates?

HDB

November 30th, 2011
9:48 am

Not Blind
November 30th, 2011
9:42 am

Not all fit your paradigm……there are many hard working Americans that are simply recerational users and they function quite well!! The hardcore addicted will need help in weaning themselves off…but the recreational user should not be lumped in with them!!

Also note: there are non-users that stay at home saying “the heck with work today……”; that’s called a “mental health day”…….are you begrudging them also?????

Paul

November 30th, 2011
9:49 am

Looks like there’s hope yet for Georgia, Jay, even with your current crop of pols.

Morning, USinUK

““The “war on drugs” keeps too many people employeed to ever decriminalize it”

hit the nail on the head”

Have a friend who worked for a major contractor for DEA. The amount of waste – not disagreement on priorities or funding programs one doesn’t agree with – is incredible. He had another perspective (lived in Central America for a number of years): decriminalize drugs and several countries would see their banking systems collapse.

TaxPayer

November 30th, 2011
9:54 am

I wonder if we incarcerate more because we sentence more first-time offenders or sentence more for offenses that others do not sentence people for in the first place.

Corey

November 30th, 2011
9:56 am

Barking Frog- “County level State Probation Officers are the key
to successful offender correction and should be highly trained
professionals”

BF, do you realize that some counties have contracted out probation services to fly-by-night companies who employ people with GEDs making 10/hr working as probation officers in old nearly empty strip malls. See Clayton county.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
9:59 am

Corey, yes and that should not occur.

nelsonh

November 30th, 2011
10:03 am

The reason for the escalating number of inmates in the Georgia Correction facilities is simple[sort of].The reason is the “over-criminalization of the laws. Some of the over-criminalization examples are importing orchids without proper paper work, shipping lobsters in plastic bags. These are not criminal, they should come under civil violations. And of course, the all time winner,”buggery” sodomy between consenting adults. It has been on the criminal books since 1500.
My personal opinion for the sorry state of the monumental expense of crime are the criminal lawyers, with endless leagal manuvering, appeals and delays, prosecuting and incarcerating crooks just keeps getting more and more expensive. Look at the Casey Anthony trial cost the state of Florida mAny millions and even then, she was found not guilty. Then the lawyers write books and make even more. Hve to change the entire procedure starting with under-criminalization of the laws rather than more.

barking frog

November 30th, 2011
10:05 am

Gov. Deal recently appointed a state representative from Hall
County to the Parole Board, a man I am sure is highly trained
in Corrections and who will be well paid from the 52,673,467.00
budgeted to the Parole Board. (some sarcasm here)