Sentence smarter, not longer
March 3, 2013
Measure makes careful changes to cut prison costs while making state safer
Along with crafting a balanced budget and grappling with state pension costs, Oregon lawmakers are considering changes in sentencing rules designed to prevent $600 million in new prison costs over the next decade. The legislation deserves support.
...a bill now before the Legislative...would make changes in sentences for carefully selected crimes and shift the system's emphasis from incarceration to community corrections, drug and mental health treatment, and post-prison supervision. Probation, which has been shown to be effective in preventing repeat crimes, costs $12 a day, compared with prison costs of $85 a day. But community corrections funding has been shrinking. So has funding for mental health and drug treatment.
...The measure would reserve prison beds for the most serious, violent offenders; reduce the time nonviolent inmates spend behind bars by using proven community corrections programs instead; carefully measure the effectiveness of those programs; and reinvest the money saved in community corrections, victims services, law enforcement and specialty courts.
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