Rhode Island Corrections Director A.T. Wall ran into flak yesterday with legislators over what the Providence Journal called a vague proposal for releasing 500 inmates to save money. “What is the plan,” asked a committee chairman, Steven Costantino? “At this point there is no plan,” Wall said. A plan will be come only after a discussion among all three branches of government. Governor Donald Carcieri will work with the Council of State Governments to devise various options for how best to reduce the prison census.
Wall mentioned the possibility of relaxing the eligibility criteria for home confinement, using more probation in lieu of prison, and holding weekend arraignments so alleged offenders are bailed out sooner, rather than occupy prison cells until Monday court appearances. Carcieri plans to resurrect the idea of a state-financed bail program for inmates. The corrections department seeks $189 million for next fiscal year, based on an inmate population projection of 3,789. Carcieri said the budget could only afford an inmate population of 3,289, leaving 500 inmates for Wall to remove from his system. “I don't think 500 can be achieved,” said Costantino. “I'm not sure 250 can be achieved.”