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  1. #1
    lewisipso's Avatar
    lewisipso is offline Injustice/Indifference/In God we trust
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    GOP lawmakers paying price for tough-on-crime laws

    OKLAHOMA CITY When Harry Coates campaigned for the Oklahoma state Senate in 2002, he had one approach to crime: "Lock 'em up and throw away the key."
    Now, Coates is looking for that key. He and other tough-on-crime lawmakers across the country, faced with steep budget shortfalls, are searching anxiously for ways to let inmates out of prison faster and keep more offenders on the street.
    Oklahoma's preferred answer for crime has collided head-on with a budget deficit estimated at $600 million, and prison costs that have increased more than 30 percent in the last decade. For years, lawmakers have pushed each other to lengthen prison sentences and increase the number of criminals behind bars. Not now: This week, new Republican Speaker of the House Kris Steele is expected to unveil a package of proposals that would divert thousands of nonviolent lawbreakers from the prison system and ramp up paroles.
    Similar crash prison reductions are going on from coast to coast. Michigan has shuttered 20 correctional facilities and slashed spending by nearly 7 percent. South Carolina expects to reduce its inmate numbers by 8 percent by putting drug dealers, burglars and hot check writers into community programs instead of behind bars. Nationwide, the number of state inmates actually decreased last year for the first time in nearly 40 years.
    "There has been a dramatic shift," said Adam Gelb, a policy specialist with the Pew Center on the States in Washington, D.C.. "The old question was simply, how do I demonstrate that I'm tough on crime?" Now, it's "a much better question: How do I get taxpayers a better public safety return on their corrections dollars?"
    Other states are trying alternatives to prison time. But in no state is the philosophical U-turn more abrupt than in Oklahoma, where last year the Legislature was barreling in the opposite direction. Lawmakers introduced 26 bills creating new felony crimes and 19 increasing penalties in 2010, even as the Department of Corrections was forcing guards and other workers to take a furlough day each month to cut costs caused by rising populations.
    Oklahoma's prison population has grown from 22,600 in 2000 to nearly 26,000 now, and the budget from $366 million to $483 million last year. Unless the Legislature provides $9 million in emergency funding this year, prison officials say guards will have to take three furlough days a month beginning in March, straining the inmate-to-guard ratios that prison officials say are already the most dangerous they've been in decades.
    Accepting that the lock-'em-up days are finally over has been chastening for some lawmakers, especially conservatives.
    "Truthfully, it's popular to be tough on crime," said Coates, a construction company owner from Seminole. "But when I saw what we were spending on corrections and who was going into our adult prisons and for what reasons . you figure out it's not exactly like you thought," he said.
    Unlike previous years, Republican leaders in Oklahoma now own the problem. The midterm elections gave the GOP the governor's office for the first time in eight years and increased majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
    "I have a little heartburn about reducing penalties," said Rep. Don Armes, a Republican from rural southwestern Oklahoma. But "how do I balance that with being able to pay for it?"
    Steele recently joined a delegation of lawmakers, judges and legislative staffers who visited Texas to see how that state has reduced its prison costs, trusting that Texans would do it without coddling lawbreakers.
    "I believe there ought to be consequences for people who break the law, but there ought to be appropriate consequences." said Steele, a minister from Shawnee.


    GOP lawmakers paying price for tough-on-crime laws - Yahoo! News
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  2. #2
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Tents and razor wire are pretty cheap...

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  3. #3
    bayern's Avatar
    bayern is offline Officer First Class
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    We are seeing those crilminals that alway pled guilty and got a slap on the wrist now wanting a full jury trial since 3 strikes was made law a few years ago. They got nothing to lose, just sitting around on their ass, inside or out. If they are out, they continue committingcrimes until bail lis revoked; then sit around and demand a jurty trial for the current offfense, while waiting for trial on the first one. To make matters wors, we have a new Dept of Corrections administraor who wants to rehabilitate them.
    Good luck. I just run a Crim Hist on an individual who's first arrest was in 1955, for, go figure, AWOL, and its been downhill since then.

  4. #4
    sgtbear111's Avatar
    sgtbear111 is offline retired
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    Use outside contracotors. Chiina and Russia need a supply of cheap labor. While they wait, and we sit on our asses, for Obama to strike our colors, we can SELL our convicts to them to use as they wish.
    Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.-- Anonymous

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  5. #5
    Napalm's Avatar
    Napalm is offline Master Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXCharlie View Post
    Tents and razor wire are pretty cheap...
    Hell yea!

    Death Row could use some cleaning out....give em what 12 people thought they desreved!
    Wiping the turds of humanity from the ass of society from 1600 to midnight.

  6. #6
    McCrackhd's Avatar
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    Can't we just annex part of the North Pole and build prisons there? You wouldn't even need guards. If they escaped, where would they go? If the cold doesn't kill em, the polar bears will.
    YOUR ATTENTION, DO I F@#%ING HAVE IT?


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  7. #7
    countybear's Avatar
    countybear is offline BDRT - Baby Daddy Removal Team
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    The price for the "keys" that these lawmakers (and their counterparts) are using to release violent predators on the streets of America is being paid for by the blood of their constituents, and our brothers. What is blood worth?

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
    - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

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  8. #8
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by countybear View Post
    The price for the "keys" that these lawmakers (and their counterparts) are using to release violent predators on the streets of America is being paid for by the blood of their constituents, and our brothers. What is blood worth?
    +1

    Just the medical & burial costs alone have got to be substantial, not even counting the loss of a family's breadwinner (temporarily or permanently) plus the pain and suffering of the victims and everyone in the family.

    That's the sort of damages that a court would award millions of dollars per incident for, if there were anyone to sue. The State and whoever signed off on the early release should be sued personally if a death or injury results, but they probably can't be sued, and the criminal most likely has empty pockets.

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