A minimum-security prison is closing, partly because we're sending less people to prison. Why aren't we celebrating?
While other news outlets lament the 'terrible' news of the closure of a minimum security prison in Ft. Supply, Oklahoma; it scores as a huge win for taxpayers in the criminal justice reform effort. Many news outlets are focusing on the govt. jobs lost, and the state funds no longer coming into certain communities. Those state funds came out of every taxpayer's pocket. But no media outlet is celebrating the milestone evidence that our govt. is forced to live within it's means.
Sen. Murdock & Rep Newton ought to be celebrating the cuts in prison spending. They ought to campaign for re election on these examples of fiscal conservatism. Local economies should not rely on govt. agencies to grow a community. This will be painful to adjust to, but it will realign NW Woodward County to an economy based on industry production in the private sector, rather than consuming more & more tax dollars and growing government.
The massive growth of prisons over 50 years.
In the 90s, privatizing of our prisons then created a strong incentive for keeping inmates longer, because private prison corporations are paid per-inmate population.
By 2010, Oklahoma became one of the highest per-capita states for prison incarceration. And the USA is the highest in the world for per-capita incarceration rates. Oklahoma still is among the highest in the world, especially for female incarcerations.
But are Oklahomans the most vile state population in the world? Because that's the only rational conclusion which would justify the dubious distinction of having the highest per-capita incarceration rate.
Alternatives to prison.
New technologies allow house arrest at a fraction of the cost of running jail cells. Parents can still care for children while in house arrest. Many Oklahomans can continue providing for themselves and their households while in house arrest.
The state's foster care system is also less expensive when house arrest options are utilized.
Work penalties are also an underused option. Yes, community service is often part of some misdemeanor sentences, but could be used more as an alternative for convicts. A way to shorten the detention portion of a sentence.
Often the ill person never gets the proper mental health care in a county jail. And often the ill person gets far worse from the abusive treatment from cops and detention officers. This is largely because training is imbalanced & noncompliance is assumed to be obstinance, rather than a confusion of psychosis. The screaming tactics of a cop will drive a psychotic person further into a deeper psychosis.
It also adjusted to $1000, the threshold value of goods stolen; in order to convict a person of a felony. Now, amounts under $1000 are prosecuted as misdemeanors and time is served in the county jails.
Restore a judge's discretion.
We built a state constitution with a judicial branch to oversee & adjudicate crime. But our legislatures and governors decided to neuter the judges who are supposed to exercise their own judgment in sentencing. We passed laws which mandate a one-size-fits-all incarceration sentence, even when a judge has spent hours in the courtroom listening to specific evidence and knows a much more effective way to secure public safety and recover the wayward offender to a productive part in society... and at a lower cost to the rest of the law-abiding taxpayers and voters in the community. We elect our courtroom judges. That ought to be enough accountability to keep judges behaving prudently.