By Alan Bean
Over at Citiwire.net, Neil Peirce has a balanced, informative and succinct report on the growing trend to re-think mass incarceration. What’s driving this reappraisal of lock-em-up policies? Declining tax revenues.
The states, which fund the bulk of our prisons, were hit by a breathtaking revenue decline of 30 percent in 2009 alone. It’s become ever-tougher for law-and-order politicos to justify ever-expanding prison rolls and costs.
What’s likely to frustrate a serious re-evaluation of prison policy? Too many people are dependent on the prison boom and its poisonous fruit.
Rural legislators across the country have pressed for prisons as job opportunities for their residents. Will they agree to shutdowns, even in these toughest of economic times for state budgets ever? It’s hard to believe.
Michelle Alexander doubts that tough times will make much of a dent in the drug war, and I fear she’s right. We may see a year or two of minor decline in the prison population, but when happy days are here again politicians will start banging the “tough-on-crime” drum. (more…)