Monday, November 15, 2010

Arkansas' Accelerated Prison Growth

See below on prison growth in Arkansas.


FSTV 7-31-09 Meshe Monge Ingirray?? Critical Resistance,

Perkinson, Robert. Texas Tough: the Rise of America’s Prison Empire. Metropolitan, 2010. Rev. Columbia Journalism Rev. (May/June 2010).

Kerman, Piper. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. Spiegel & Grau, 2010. Rev. CJR (May/June 20010): Kerman and Perkinson give “two takes on the folly of our prison policies.”

Democracy Now (10-19-10) Amy Goodman interviewed Angela Davis for most of the hour, much of it about Davis’s experience with, views about, and advocacy of abolishing prisons. Prisons reflect a failed society. A genuinely caring society would largely eliminate prisons, as in Finland. Prison abolition is part of “building a new world.”
Ms. Davis referred to the book Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists.
1. Instead of Prisons Table of Contents
A Handbook For Abolitionists, Online book, Originally published 1976.
Show map of 3049 E Genesee St, Syracuse, NY 13224 - Cached - Similar

2. Instead of Prisons Chapter 2
[47] "By freely giving out ... drugs, wardens and guards keep many prisoners ... - Cached - Similar
3. Instead of Prisons Chapter 6
4. We should further reduce our excessive reliance on prisons by making ... - Cached - Instead Of Prisons: A Handbook For Abolitionists :: AK Press
From discussions on the range of voices that comprise the movement for prison abolition to demystification of the myths surrounding the justification of ... - Cached - Similar
5. [PDF]
Treatment Instead of Prisons
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
Treatment Instead of Prisons: A Roadmap for Sentencing and Correctional Policy Reform in Wisconsin. This report would not have been possible with- ... - Similar
6. States Eye Drug Treatment Instead of Prisons - 018751
Oct 31, 2006 ... The use of drug treatment instead of incarceration by states in order to cut costs is examined. For ... - Cached
7. Treatment Instead of Prisons | Justice Strategies
RESEARCH. BY STATE • BY ISSUE • BY PUBLICATION. Treatment Instead of Prisons. Treatment Instead of Prisons. CONTACT: Justice Strategies / A Tides Center ... - Cached - Similar
8. Building Schools Instead Of Prisons | Education
Aug 27, 2010 ... This could serve as a model for the rest of the country as to how communities can effectively build schools instead of prisons. ...

For a fuller discussion of this issue see today's Arkansas Times post on here.

Many thanks to Uvalde Lindsey who addressed Sr Demos on this last year and remarked it would be one of the most important and difficult problem Ark legislators would be facing. Strangely the issue of prison growth/inadequate facilities was not discussed during the 2010 election. Perhaps it was best.
Prison Population Tide Continues To Increase
By Ron Wood
Sunday, November 14, 2010
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS — Arkansas prison officials said they’re being swamped by unprecedented inmate population growth but while they look for ways to house them, the human tide continues to increase.
Locally, judges and prosecutors say they still have a job to do and, in some cases, that means sending people to prison.
“Our growth right now is at an all-time high,” said Dina Tyler, Arkansas Department of Correction spokeswoman.
Tyler said the department is seeing its normal number of returnees but also seeing lots of new faces.
“That tells me our pool of criminals is growing,” Tyler said.
Since the 1970s state population has grown about 30 percent. The prison population has grown 600 percent, Tyler said.
Over the last 15 years, an average of 33 new inmates a month were added to the state prison population, Tyler said. This year, the monthly average has been 119.
“We are far outpacing the growth of Arkansas,” Tyler said. “People say, ‘How can that be? The crime rate is dropping.’ and that’s true. But the crime rate is only one component. You have to look at the crime rate, how many of those crimes are being solved with arrests made and how many of those arrests are leading to convictions and sentences of incarceration. So, we’ve got actually more cases being solved, more trials ending in guilty verdicts and more sentences being prison.”
Washington County courts have been sending more people to prison each year. In 2006, there were 686 people sent to either the Department of Correction or the Department of Community Correction. In 2007, the number was 727. By 2008, it had reached 800. In 2009, Washington County sent 846 people to state lockups.
“Everybody would like to have fewer people in the prison system,” said John Threet, Washington County prosecuting attorney. “But, I think we have to be careful how we reach that goal.”
Threet said his deputy prosecutors don’t seek prison time unless the evidence shows the person really deserves to be incarcerated.
“They’re not there by accident. There’s a reason those people are down there,” Threet said. “We don’t look at these numbers thinking we need to beat that number from last year.”
Circuit Judge William Storey said judges and prosecutors try to find alternative sentences, such as probation, when possible, but that only goes so far.
“It’s a function of the seriousness of the crime as well as the criminal history of the defendant,” Storey said. “Generally speaking, there’s an attempt to use probation as an alternative when the crime’s not too terribly serious or the defendant is not a repeat offender. There are some people who end up on probation or county jail time that really should probably go to prison, but that’s just, unfortunately, a fact of life that we have to deal with.”
Threet said prison overcrowding should not be dealt with by limiting what prosecutors, judges and juries do in their communities.
“If you start messing with the front end, you’re messing with what the community wants done,” Threet said.
Arkansas has a recidivism rate of almost 50 percent, meaning half of those released from prison will return, Threet said.
“We’ve identified the population at risk,” Threet said. “We need to look at doing a better job on that end.”
Threet said he’d like to see more education and treatment programs provided to reduce recidivism. The Department of Community Correction is based in large part on that theory and appears to be more effective than punishment alone, Threet said.
In June, Gov. Mike Beebe’s office announced the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States and state prison officials were working on a study to find an idea to curb growth in prison population while maintaining public safety.
“Our prisons are overcrowded, and the continued growth in our prison population and correction costs is unsustainable,” Beebe said. “We are looking for more ways to suitably punish and rehabilitate criminals while saving our prison beds for violent offenders.”
Pew was compiling data on correction trends in Arkansas with the help of state and local agencies.
Arkansas’ prison population has more than doubled in the past 20 years and is anticipated to top 21,000 inmates in the next decade.
Building and operating new prisons to accommodate that growth will cost Arkansas an estimated $1.1 billion between now and 2020, according to analysis conducted by the Pew team. Construction costs alone would exceed $350 million.
Earlier this week, prison officials said they will ask the Legislature for an additional $7.4 million to reimburse counties holding state inmates in their county jails.
As of Tuesday there were 1,863 state inmates waiting in county jails for a prison bed to open up. By Friday, that number had increased to 1,939.
Benton County on Friday was holding 161 people awaiting transfer to state prison, the average wait is six to seven months, Capt. Rob Holly said. Washington County was holding 245 state inmates.
The state pays counties $28 per day for each inmate.
The Legislature appropriated $7.5 million to pay counties for housing inmates during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, but the money is expected to run out by the end of December, according to prison officials.
Threet said the percentage of Arkansans in state prisons is now within 4 percent of the national average.
“It’s not that we’re out of control. Arkansas was way behind the rest of the country in incarceration rates and no one was prepared when we caught up,” Threet said, who said some of the state officials’ ideas are good.
“I just don’t want people messing with the reason we’re in office,” he said.

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