Indiana, there is a choice to not warehouse more prisoners!


SAY NO TO MORE NEW PRISONS FOR INDIANA

Two items are very important – 1) Criminal justice, especially corrections, is consuming an ever-increasing share of the state’s budget.  Political leaders and citizens are concerned about the skyrocketing costs, particularly when state revenues are dropping  due to the economic crisis.  Sentencing reforms estimated to save Indiana $1.3 billion over the next 7 years have been endorsed by the Governor, by legislators across the political spectrum and by the judiciary. It is exceedingly important that the sentencing reform be passed by the Legislature.  Details of recommendations can be found at http://www.justicereinvestment.org/files/JR_Indiana_Summary_Report_FINAL.pdf.  A one page data sheet can be found at http://www.justicereinvestment.org/states/indiana

 2) In these extremely difficult times Indiana does not need a new 512 bed prison as announced by Governor Daniels on December 15, 2010.  Stopping the new prison will be extremely difficult because of the powerful prison interests involved.  But redirecting the funds allocated for the new prison to initiatives that cut crime and keep people from returning may have even greater benefit to Indiana taxpayers than the $1.3 billion savings claimed by the Governor for sentencing reform. 

Governor Daniels claims a $600,000 savings per annum because GEO Group, the private company being contracted to finance, build and management the prison, guarantees a $37 / day cost per inmate in constant dollars instead of the state average of $42 / day.  But, Indiana is obligated to fill the facility.   If it were not built we would not have this obligation.  In fact, instead of a $600,000 savings it is a $6,914,560 per annum expense to house an additional 512 inmates.  Over ten years the cost to taxpayers will be $69,145,560 with an implied commitment for an additional ten years. 

This money would be far better spent on work release and evidence-based programs that keep people from returning to prison and jail.  Beyond that, Indiana already has a 1,000 to 1,500 bed facility (former Boys School) that is staffed by admin people but otherwise empty.  Where is the need for 512 additional beds if the Governor, legislators and our judiciary recognize that we have far too many non-violent offenders in prison? 

The Governor has decided to obligate the taxpayers with a no compete contract to an out-of-state business to build an unneeded facility that warehouses more people doing nothing to reduce crime.  GEO Group has made large campaign contributions to Indiana politicians.  Let’s hope these contributions had nothing to do with this decision.  

Consider the alternative of investing $6,914,560 through a highly competitive process managed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to choose the best evidence-based projects to reduce recidivism and improve reentry for the thousands of men and women released each year from Indiana’s prisons and jails.  Such an initiative would stimulate innovation at the county level under the policy direction of Indiana state government.  This could help to transform how reentry works at the local level while at the same time adopting evidence-based practices more uniformly across the State.  We could also put hundreds of otherwise jobless or homeless people to work.  By investing the funds in innovative, highly competitive projects across the state, taxpayers will gain vastly more than a 512 bed human warehouse. 

The Governor has the opportunity to exercise leadership to back innovation in corrections in Indiana to reduce recidivism.  The legislature and the judiciary are for measures that lead to fewer prisoners returning to prison.  It is a rare “teachable moment” in government that should not be passed up.  The benefits to Indiana from not building the new prison and instead redirecting the funds to programs that work can reap create much greater benefits than the $1.3 billion savings from sentencing reform alone.   

Sign the Petition.   Click http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/say-no-to-more-prisons-for-indiana-say-yes-to-work-release/  or paste the address into your browser.

Vid Beldavs
Indiana CURE Newsletter Editor
www.incure.org
workreleasefirst@aol.com

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