RI Second In Nation For Prison Inmate Spending

From:
Go Local Providence

Friday, June 03, 2011
Chip Young, Senior Editor

Rhode Island ranks second in the U.S. in annual spending on prison inmates per year.

With a three-year contract with the RI Brotherhood of Correctional Officers in place until June 30, 2012, it is unlikely that costs will go down. And despite a gradually decreasing incarceration rate, the cost per inmate may actually go up, according to RI Department of Corrections Director A.T. Wall.

Only Maine pays more for the care and feeding of their prison population, according to the National Institute of Corrections, an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons.

At approximately $43,000 per year, per inmate, the total cost for the RI inmate population comes to nearly $150 million per year as of 2010, according to Wall.
Personnel Costs Run High

In 2010, the Adult Correctional Institutions had an average population of 3,300 inmates, down from 4,000 in 2008.

“Over 80 percent of our costs are personnel-related,” said Wall. “This involves intense supervision at all our facilities, around the clock. And 80 percent of that is “direct supervision” employees (essentially corrections officers).”

Average salary for the COs is $56,610, and there are currently 829 on the books, 61 percent of the total DOC staff. They work three regular shifts, with varied numbers based upon time of day. There is also a shift from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. that is required for handling of visitors and inmate recreation.

Read the rest here

Jail cuts could reduce capacity by half in North Las Vegas

By Brian Haynes and Lynnette Curtis
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Jun. 1, 2011

Faced with ever-deepening budget woes, North Las Vegas plans to cut its jail to just 400 beds, less than half of the 900-bed operation of a few years ago.

It’s a casualty of the economic realities facing Southern Nevada, but local judges worry the smaller jail means less room for the criminals they need to lock up.

“There are bad people we have to lock up,” Municipal Court Judge Warren VanLandschoot said Wednesday. “There’s a misconception that the Municipal Court just handles traffic tickets. But we get guys with 150 prior arrests. We’re able to keep that person off the street for five months. That’s a whole bunch of crime that’s not happening.”

At its May 17 meeting, the City Council voted 4-1 to close all but one of the jail’s dormitories and end a contract that guarantees up to 200 beds for federal prisoners. Even without the federal prisoners, which account for about 50 inmates a day, the city would be left with 200 beds for men and 200 beds for women.

Read the rest here.

—————
What about preventing crime?
What about rehabilitating prisoners to stop crime from happening?
What about stopping the “war on drugs”?

One person with 150 prior arrests? What is wrong with the system, Judge VanLandschoot?! You suggest preventing crime by locking up people? What do you think happens inside? Does crime stop when someone is locked up? Does not it take a little more than just locking up people, o Judge? What happens when someone leaves jail? What happens to your job when these cells are cut, Judge, and when crime falls?

What about investing in more jobs, better education, more mentoring?
Everything costs money, Judge, only the sun comes up for free…

Jail cuts could reduce capacity by half in North Las Vegas

By Brian Haynes and Lynnette Curtis
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Jun. 1, 2011

Faced with ever-deepening budget woes, North Las Vegas plans to cut its jail to just 400 beds, less than half of the 900-bed operation of a few years ago.

It’s a casualty of the economic realities facing Southern Nevada, but local judges worry the smaller jail means less room for the criminals they need to lock up.

“There are bad people we have to lock up,” Municipal Court Judge Warren VanLandschoot said Wednesday. “There’s a misconception that the Municipal Court just handles traffic tickets. But we get guys with 150 prior arrests. We’re able to keep that person off the street for five months. That’s a whole bunch of crime that’s not happening.”

At its May 17 meeting, the City Council voted 4-1 to close all but one of the jail’s dormitories and end a contract that guarantees up to 200 beds for federal prisoners. Even without the federal prisoners, which account for about 50 inmates a day, the city would be left with 200 beds for men and 200 beds for women.

Read the rest here.

—————
What about preventing crime?
What about rehabilitating prisoners to stop crime from happening?
What about stopping the “war on drugs”?

One person with 150 prior arrests? What is wrong with the system, Judge VanLandschoot?! You suggest preventing crime by locking up people? What do you think happens inside? Does crime stop when someone is locked up? Does not it take a little more than just locking up people, o Judge? What happens when someone leaves jail? What happens to your job when these cells are cut, Judge, and when crime falls?

What about investing in more jobs, better education, more mentoring?
Everything costs money, Judge, only the sun comes up for free…

Door to clang shut on ancient state prison

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/may/14/ancient-state-prison-close/
Las Vegas Sun

By Cy Ryan

Saturday, May 14, 2011

CARSON CITY – The ancient Nevada State Prison, initially opened when Abraham Lincoln was president, is finally going to close.

The Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted Saturday to phase out the Carson City facility by April 2012 at a savings of more than $17 million.

Most of the 682 inmates will be transferred to the High Desert State Prison in Clark County, along with 59 staff.

Gov Brian Sandoval proposed in his budget the closure by Oct. 31 this year, but the budget committees, on the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, delayed the phase out.

Horsford said more time was needed to plan the transfer and this would give the officers who are losing their jobs more time to find other employment. And those who are being transferred to High Desert will have more time to re-locate.

The prison, one of the oldest in the United States, was a hotel when purchased by the state in 1862. It burned in 1867 and was rebuilt.

There will be 105 positions eliminated by the closure. But Greg Cox, acting director of the state Department of Corrections, said some of those jobs have been kept vacant.

He said only about 30 officers would lose their jobs. Almost all the officers will retain their employment if they want to move to Las Vegas or other prisons.
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Horsford, chairman of the Senate Finance, got assurance from Cox that there were no plans for building a new prison or for expanded facilities.

Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, complained the former corrections director didn’t do any maintenance on the state prison. He said he would not support closure because so many people are affected.

The joint committees voted down the recommendation of Gov. Sandoval. And there was applause from prison employees in the audience.

But then Sandoval offered the plan to keep it open six months longer than the recommendation and that passed.

Read the rest here.

Wisconsin lawmakers discuss proposal to cut number of prison meals to save the state money

Prisons cost money. Prisoners are human beings just like you and me. They need food in order to live. When are lawmakers and politicians going to stop abusing the human and basic constitutional rights of people in prisons by trying to deny them food? What good will it do the taxpayers who elect politicians, when more security is needed? When more medical bills need to be paid for because of the lack of nutrients and lack of food?

Why don´t politicians like Mark Radcliffe come up with laws for less long sentences? A reduction of people returning to prison like the revolving door phenomenon? Better education and more work for all are also badly needed.

Via The Real Cost of Prisons:

Wisconsin lawmakers discuss proposal to cut number of prison meals to save the state money

* STEPHANIE JONES The Journal Times, Racine
May 02, 2011

STURTEVANT, Wis. — Today’s prison menu includes oatmeal for breakfast, hamburgers for lunch and chicken a la king for dinner.

In the future, one of those meals could be taken off the menu, leaving a brunch and dinner.

State Rep. Mark Radcliffe, a Democrat from Black River Falls, has proposed a bill that would reduce the number of meals served at prisons and jails to save money. Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said it is an idea worth consideration for the state budget.

John Paquin, warden at the Racine Correctional Institution in Sturtevant, said he has not taken a position on it. But he is concerned it could bring about some security issues.

Inmates look forward to getting out of their cells for meals and other activities, he said. If the meal schedule is changed, Paquin said some of the approximately 1,500 inmates in the correctional institute in Sturtevant could get edgy or testy. They could also protest by not going to meals, he said.

“One thing inmates are always concerned about is the food,” Paquin said. “It’s not like they can go down to the local McDonald’s,” he said.

Radcliffe also did not return a call for comment on his bill. But Vos, who is co-chairman of the state’s Joint Finance Committee, said the proposal is worth reviewing if it saves the state money.

“I don’t think being in prison guarantees you three meals a day,” Vos said. “There are very few days I eat three meals a day, and I get along … But at the same time we want to make sure people are adequately taken care of.”

Tim Le Monds, a spokesman with the Department of Corrections, said he does not know how much it would save and the department has not analyzed the impact of the proposed change. But he said it’s his understanding that the proposal would not reduce the number of calories that are offered. Those calories are based on federal nutritional guidelines, he said.

Le Monds also said the state made a meal change last fall which saved money without cutting breakfast.

Instead of having different meals at all the state correctional sites, they created a standardized meal rotation schedule for all state correctional institutions. The change consolidated food ordering for approximately 30 different state facilities and saved money by ordering in bulk, Le Monds said. It started in fall, and Le Monds said it has already saved the state about $2 million.
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Information from: The Journal Times, http://www.journaltimes.com

http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/f5d66c9c52784877af8429301dc14206/WI–Exchange-Reduced-Prison-Meals/

Would early prison release save Washington cash?

From: Seattle Times

Washington faces a $5 billion budget deficit, and that has politicians looking for savings in the cell blocks.

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, The Associated Press
Originally published April 2, 2011

SPOKANE — Like many states, cash-strapped Washington is looking to save money by reducing the size of its prison population.

But the state already has been releasing nonviolent offenders for years, leaving relatively few inmates who would be good candidates for early release. Washington has about 17,000 prison inmates, well below the average for a state of 6.6 million.

“Over the last 10 years, we have moved away from incarcerating in any great numbers people who don’t deserve to be in prison,” said Tom McBride, a spokesman for the state Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

That is not the case in all states. Huge budget deficits are causing politicians in many states to take a hard look at prisons and at the tough-on-crime laws that have locked up more people for longer periods. At least two dozen states are considering early release of inmates to save money. Tougher sentencing laws have contributed to a fourfold increase in state prison costs across the nation over two decades: from $12 billion in 1988 to more than $50 billion by 2008.

Washington faces a $5 billion budget deficit, and that has politicians looking for savings in the cell blocks.

State Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, has proposed early release of some inmates who have not committed sex offenses, murder or certain drug offenses. An inmate at low risk to reoffend could see 120 days shaved off a sentence under the proposal, while a high-risk but nonviolent inmate would get 60 days off a sentence.

Some of the money saved would be used for treatment and education programs that lower recidivism rates. “A person with a high likelihood of committing a violent offense isn’t going to be allowed to be released under this program,” Kline said.

Proponents say the state could save $6.6 million in the next two years, a tiny percentage of the deficit. Prosecutors oppose the measure.

Kline said his bill would reduce the daily prison population by about 3.5 percent. It costs about $37,000 to keep a prison inmate in Washington.

A study conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found the bill would result in 3,700 fewer crimes over the next 20 years, saving taxpayers $35 million, assuming rehabilitation works.

In Washington, discussions about reducing the prison budget come amid the horrific backdrop of the murder of a corrections officer on Jan. 29. Jayme Biendl was strangled by an inmate while working alone in the chapel at the Monroe Correctional Complex.

While prison officials have said Biendl’s murder was not related to state budget cuts, which had yet to impact Monroe much, the case has become a political football.

Read the rest here.

Officials say inmate medical costs rising

From: NECN
March 11, 2011

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A rash of broken jaws and an aging prison population have driven up medical costs across the Nevada prison system, state correctional officials told a panel of lawmakers Friday.

Greg Cox, acting director of the Department of Corrections, and Deputy Director Jeff Mohlenkamp told an Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance subcommittee that they’ve seen a spike in inmate-on-inmate violence that resulted in injuries, including broken jaws. They were unable to say how many.

The topic came up as legislators sifted through the Department of Corrections budget requests for the next two years.

Besides emergency medical care for injuries, Cox said

The system is struggling with costs for prisoners between the ages of 60 and 65. For this age group, the department estimates costs hover around $4,000 a year, a significant difference from the estimated $1,000 per year it costs for inmates 30 and under.

From 2009 to 2010, information provided by the department showed total inmate medical costs jumped from roughly $11 million to $14 million.

Don Helling, deputy director for correctional programs, said aging population costs go beyond treating illnesses or conditions and include additional burdens like those linked with dietary restrictions, a need that translates into providing special food as well as supervision to ensure the right food gets to the right inmate.

Friday’s budget discussion also addressed Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposal to shutter aging Nevada State Prison in Carson City. Cox said High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs is particularly suited to taking on the displaced prisoners because it has two buildings ready to accept new inmates and offers modern facilities that would make monitoring inmate activity easier and more effective.

Read the rest here.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget tightens early prison release

From: Green Bay Press Gazette:

Doyle program has affected 479 inmates for ‘limited’ savings

Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to rescind former Gov. Jim Doyle’s cost-saving sentencing reform measures will have little positive effect on the state budget or even on Walker’s wish to restore truth in sentencing, data from the state Department of Corrections shows.

Walker has proposed changing the funding for the prison system, taking it from a $1.3 billion budget for this year to $1.2 billion in 2012 and then back up to $1.27 billion in 2013.

In Walker’s recent budget address, the governor said his plan would restore truth in sentencing, state efforts begun in the late 1990s to more closely tie court sentences to actual time that inmates serve.
While he didn’t address whether costs would increase because inmates could be kept in prison longer, he said the intention is separating issues of early release from budget considerations.

To some observers, the repealing of Doyle’s early release initiatives seem contradictory to Walker’s cost-cutting strategies.

“There appears to be substantial cuts planned in the DOC budget, and at the same time, we’re expecting prisoners are going to stay locked up for longer periods,” Brown County Judge J.D. McKay said. “That costs money. I don’t completely understand the logic of the two; they seem to run counter to each other.”

In reality, Walker’s planned changes to Doyle’s early release measures will affect relatively few inmates.

Doyle’s plan, which started on Oct.1, 2009, was originally expected to save as much as $27 million over two years. Actual savings have been minimal because relatively few inmates have been released early under the program, prison data shows.

Out of a prison population of more than 22,000, only 479 inmates were released early since Oct. 1, 2009, according to prison spokesman Tim LeMonds. No specific figure of cost savings was available, LeMonds said, but “over the last few years, it was extremely minimal.”

The largest share — 362 inmates — were released under the sentence adjustment program, a program that will remain largely intact under Walker’s proposed changes, according to Tony Streveler, the prison system’s policy initiatives advisor.

Read the rest here.

Deseret News: 2011 Utah legislative outlook on crime

By Paul KoeppDeseret News

The Utah Department of Corrections is requesting from Utah lawmakers an additional $4.9 million to shift inmates to county jails. The state prison is over capacity, with the Board of Pardons and Parole starting early releases of prisoners in the past year. If the prison system stays over capacity for 45 days, state law would trigger an emergency release.

UDOC has also requested approval to build a 300-bed facility, similar to a halfway house, somewhere along the Wasatch Front to house parole violators short term instead of sending them back to prison.

Read the rest here.

Florida TaxWatch, Southern Poverty Law Center applaud Scott’s transition team recs on juvenile justice

From: Miami Herald
Posted by Janet Zink on December 22, 2010

Read more: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2010/12/florida-taxwatch-southern-povery-law-center-applaud-scotts-transition-team-recs-on-juvenile-justice.html#ixzz193ftJsVo

Florida TaxWatch CEO Dominic Calabro says implementing some of the recommendations made by Rick Scott’s transition team on juvenile justice will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Specifically, Calabro’s organization and the Southern Poverty Law Center want Florida legislators to agree to the suggestion not to incarcerate juveniles guilty of misdemeanors, saying it could save $30 million annually. But what about lawmakers who want to make sure voters see them as “tough on crime?” The SPL’s Vanessa Carroll says this: “The research shows that when you put those children into residential facilities they’re going to be more likely to reoffend. So that’s actually not helping public safety.” As it is now, 70 percent of the juveniles behind bars are there for nonviolent crimes, and 44 percent are there for misdemeanors and probation violation.

Calabro, whose organization was represented on Scott’s law and order transition team group, said that given the state’s budget crisis, he expects lawmakers this session will be more open to ideas for saving money in the criminal justice system.

As to the transition team’s proposal to merge the departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Families, one of many organizational mergers contemplated by Scott, Calabro gives that a thumbs up, even though he acknowledges the logistics of such consolidations can be problematic. “Historically, the juice has not been worth the squeeze. You usually end up with more costs. But in this case, because of the nature of this governor, because of his orientation, because of his commitment, I think you will see substantial cost reductions. I actually applaud him for thinking like that,” he said.

Read more: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2010/12/florida-taxwatch-southern-povery-law-center-applaud-scotts-transition-team-recs-on-juvenile-justice.html#ixzz193a9dc5i