It’s a perfect storm that might save some money, if law and order politicians can make the leap. Looking for savings in the prison system, some legislators are talking about releasing some bad guys.
But not the really bad ones…
It’s an idea that’s been discussed before.
Overcrowding in county jails, state prisons, all facilities in the state is stretching resources at a time when resources are scarce.
Senator John Whitmire of Houston is chairman of the committee…
“And it’s just nuts,” whitmire says. “We have one inmate, we spend 1.2 million dollars a year providing him healthcare.”
So the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee is considering the idea of releasing those who will no longer be a threat.
“We do a real good job here in Texas off locking up violent criminals for long periods of time,” whitmire said, “But we do have a population that pose no public threat…old folks, invalids, people who can’t get out of bed. We spend hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars to lock up very old inmates that could be released at great savings to the state.”
“Then there’s the group of undocumented foreign nationals, as many as 12,000,” he says. “I wouldn’t release the violent immigrants. I’d look at the 6000 non-violent, parole eligible. Turn them over to immigration to be deported.”
And perhaps even non-violent offenders.
“Because,” he said, “the criterion is that a reasonable person would not think they’d pose a security risk.”
And the biggest issue for his colleagues? How does a law and order candidate explain this vote to the voters back home?
“Well, that’s what leadership is all about,” he said.
Whitmire told us that his colleagues are surprisingly receptive to this idea.
A 25-billion dollar shortfall will have that effect.