Saturday, March 1, 2008

Idaho's prison population continues to rise

Idaho's prison population continues to keep pace with the rest of the nation. However, the correction's budget threatens to topple spending on education and health and welfare.

read more | digg story

The forecast for Idaho and the rest of the nation is gloomy and continued huge investment in prisons. The only exception is New York, which is closing prisons as its incarceration rates decline.

Idaho's prison population has increased over 900% since 1970 while the general population has increased 105%. The implications of the dominant sentencing policies should be troubling to policy makers and citizens alike. First, what are we receiving in return for our investment? The crime rate is low, and continues to decline, but for demographic reasons as opposed to sentencing policy. The other troubling aspect is the impact on the budget. Several states have already seen correction budgets eclipse spending on higher education. The Idaho legislature will be faced with a grim reality - raise taxes or cut spending in other areas.

Is this the future we want for Idaho? Have policy makers made the connections?


John E. Godwin said...

This is disturbing at the very least. However I think this statistic is partially misrepresented. It states 1 out of every 34 male Idahoans is Incarcerated or on Parole. I would buy that 1 out of 34 is incarcerated or on Probation or parole, but not specifically parole. Taking money away from education??? Is stupid a professional term? Why would you take away from education? Studies show the majority of those incarcerated do not have very much education. I think if we take away from education it will be hell on the future of corrections. If we pour more money into corrections it may be a quick fix for today, but trouble for tomorrow. I say keep money in the areas of education and public health and treat them as an investment for the future.

Dan Greenleaf said...

Grant it, I am very biased on this position, but I think this comes down to the value of human beings much more than money. When a population suffers from NIMBY (Not in my back yard) as much as Idahoans do, then they are going to have numbers like this. I was in a meeting with a Boise Police Department officer discussing the homeless problem back in 2006, and I believe what he said applies to homelessness, prison populations, and virtually every other problem we are experiencing in Boise right now. He basically said, that Boise is a large city, like it or not, Boise is not the size it was in the 1980s. GROW UP AND DEAL WITH IT. If we continue to pretend that we are a small town when we are not, then we can plan on paying taxes through the teeth for our ignorance and see more people inprisoned unnecessarily. Who is harming who?

Monty Blamires said...

I am not appauled or bothered by our incarceration rate, rather that we are not doing what is necessary to address the issues that brought them to this point in the first place. As for shifting funding, I do not think that our public education system properly manages their budget in the first place, they receive millions of dollars for the lottery every year and to what is it applied??? The teachers receive 3 months of leave each year and still get inservice training that takes another 2-3 weeks away for teaching. We are really looking at two issues here; prisons and education both systems are broke, both lead to the trouble of todays society, none of the current plans are fixing the issues. We should start by holding people accountable for their actions, it is not their environment that caused their bad act it was their decision to do the bad act. Do not shift the blame off the individual but rather offer the individual the chance to change.