Budget Cuts Changing the Criminal Justice System: Crime News

Crime news from Crime in America.Net

We created a post a little more than a month ago stating that budget cuts were “hampering” the criminal justice system; now we observe that they are dramatically changing the ability of the system to do its job as we currently know it.

We could post approximately 20 articles from this week alone documenting the layoff or potential layoffs of police officers, parole and probation agents and correctional officers. We chose to cite two examples of recent coverage and include our original post.

What this is doing is forcing the system to rethink the way it conducts business and that process of restructuring “could” provide some innovation and efforts unthinkable just a year ago.

Criminal justice administrators are asking themselves whether or not we “really” need to house the current number of inmates or do we “really” need to supervise everyone sentenced to probation or whether we “really” need police officers to show up to your house to document unsolvable crimes (you would simply call the information in to a clerk).

But the bottom-line is that more cuts are coming. We previously stated that the fat was cut from criminal justice budgets long ago. Unless researchers can “prove” that the above examples will not produce more criminality, the system will have to make some very hard decisions very soon.

Example One: The Illinois State Police will lay off more than 460 troopers

The Illinois State Police will lay off more than 460 troopers and close five regional headquarters by this fall, acting State Police director Jonathon Monken said Tuesday.

With expected retirements, the layoffs will reduce the number of sworn state troopers by about 600, or 30 percent, Monken said. The force currently has a little over 2,000 troopers.

 “There will be significant consequences to public safety,” Monken warned.

“We expect an increase in traffic fatalities, increased exposure to terrorist threats in Illinois, an increase in gun and drug trafficking, in addition to the loss of an estimated $12 million in citation revenue for counties across the state,” he said.

The cuts are being made necessary by the state’s budget crisis, Monken told a Senate appropriations committee.

See http://www.sj-r.com/news/x99764408/State-Police-plan-massive-trooper-layoffs-to-close-five-districts.

Example Two: California, in Financial Crisis, Opens Prison Doors

 The California budget crisis has forced the state to address a problem that expert panels and judges have wrangled over for decades: how to reduce prison overcrowding.

The goal is to reduce the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons next year by 6,500 — more than the entire state prison population in 2009 of Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah or West Virginia. In all, there are 167,000 prisoners in California.

The state has begun in recent weeks the most significant changes since the 1970s to reduce overcrowding — and chip away at an astonishing 70 percent recidivism rate, the highest in the country — as the prison population becomes a major drag on the state’s crippled finances.

Many in the state still advocate a tough approach, with long sentences served in full, and some early problems with released inmates have given critics reason to complain. But fiscal reality, coupled with a court-ordered reduction in the prison population, is pouring cold water on old solutions like building more prisons.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/us/24calprisons.html?pagewanted=2&hp

 Original post from Crime in America.Net

http://crimeinamerica.net/2010/02/17/budget-cuts-hurting-justice-system-crime-news/

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  1. It really is a short-sighted decision – the release of the inmates here in California. Some of the ways in which “good” time is being recalculating have been stopped, but its only a temporary stop. The state is going to continue with the early release policy and crime will go up.

    • Hi. Thanks for writing.
      Prison releases are happening throughout the country. This week we will discuss a report from the Pew Center on the States documenting what’s happening.
      There are newspaper articles throughout the country documenting objections and new crimes committed by those released. But as said in the article, states simply can’t afford their current levels of incarceration.
      We appreciate your opinions.
      CIA staff.

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