Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Reducing prison population is hard

And we’re taking a step backwards.

Last summer, when tough-on-crime Texas closed its first prison ever, legislative leaders were jubilant over downsizing one of the nation’s largest corrections systems by more than 1,000 beds. It was a first big step, they said, toward saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in coming years.

Meanwhile, prison officials were adding bunks to the other 111 state prisons, which house more than 156,000 convicts. By last week, Texas had about 2,000 more prison bunks than it did a year ago, thanks to a state law that requires the prison system to maintain some excess capacity as a cushion against crowding.

Because those beds will likely fill up — empty prison beds almost always do — Texas taxpayers could be in line for some whopping additional costs come 2013.

I’ll refer you to Grits for the heavy lifting on this. Remember, though, the Republicans cut all kinds of programs that provide alternatives to incarceration, thereby guaranteeing the increase in the number of inmates. Will they be similarly pennywise and pound foolish in 2013? Unfortunately, I wouldn’t bet against it.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.