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Reducing Prison population only way to save significant cash

December 28th, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

One of the major focuses of lawmakers in the coming year is going to be cutting the cost of jails and prisons, which means locking up bad people but not necessarily everyone who has done something wrong.

An average of 99,163 people were in Florida prisons every day this past year. That’s up from just 42 thousand 20 years ago,..a 57 percent increase. New studies show recidivism down, but 2017 is likely to be the year lawmakers reduce the prison population to save money. Dominic Calabro of Florida Taxwatch says the reduction needs to be dramatic.

“I mean get it down from somewhere around a hundred thousand to 80, then 75, 70, until we’re at 60 thousand inmate population we really can’t have the kind of savings” says Calabro.

saving-billions00000009The Prison system cost two point three billion to operate this year. A constitutionally mandated review of state spending recommended letting elderly prisoners out early and reducing the number of people who go to state prison for non violent crimes. Ideas include issuing civil citations to both juvenile and first time adult non violent offenders.

As the prison debate is unfolding, many lawmakers are saying  we should lock up those people we’re afraid of, but not those people we simply don’t like.

saving-billions00000008Barney Bishop says that philosophy is at the core of the Smart Justice initiative.

“Give people a second change if they haven’t been violent” says Bishop.

Taxwatch says the saving need to be spent on things that will keep people from going back behind bars.

“Drug abuse counseling and so forth, and things that will help them when they transition out that they stay out” says Calabro.

The Government Efficiency task Force says every 5 percent reduction in recidivism saves 8.3 million.

The report also recommends creating more work release centers for those nearing the end of their sentence. The task force says  each inmate on work release saves the state 76 hundred dollars a year.

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